10 things a New Help Desk Manager should do

Help Desk Management Book
Help Desk Management book by Wayne Schlicht

Starting a position as a new Help Desk Manager is a rewarding experience. Customers will appreciate when service is outstanding by being courteous, prompt, efficient, and accurate. To reach this level of Help Desk Management success, you need to quickly audit and understand your new Help Desk environment to ensure you are in a position to provide the best possible service. As a new Help Desk Manager, auditing your environment does not mean you need aggressive changes right away. However, it does mean capturing information about areas that could be more efficient and using it in the near future to prioritize improvements. Before you engineer and implement improvements you need to seek agreement and support from the stakeholders.

Meet with key stakeholder groups

It is important as a new Help Desk Manager to quickly build relationships and seek input from key stakeholder groups to be successful. These key groups are your department’s leaders, the customers you support, the staff that reports to you, and vendors you have contracts with. Understanding the group’s perspective of what is working and what is not, is very important. If the stakeholders do raise an issue of something not working correctly they may not know the root cause of the issues they raise. All items raised should be logged, researched, and your feedback timely returned. This will help you uncover real or perceived issues. For managing vendors, it is important a new Help Desk Manager be very familiar with the contracts, and contracted services and ensure you have processes in place to measure their performance. Read more about Help Desk stakeholder groups. 

Learn the business

While your role as a new Help Desk Manager is primarily customer support, ultimately you have to know your company’s business, products, and applications. It is important that the Help Desk understands what services are mission-critical for the business. Mission-critical services are the highest priority and your department needs to be experts at supporting them. If changes are being made, the new Help Desk Manager needs to be a partner with the development team rolling out the changes to ensure success. If there are problems, these need to be documented, communicated, and the department is ready to provide support. As new services are added, the new Help Desk Manager should be engaged in the project and support knowledge transfer into the knowledge base must be completed prior to rolling out the service.

Mature a Knowledge Base

A Knowledge Base is a repository of the customer, application, and service support information that has been optimized for fast retrieval to provide just-in-time support. Knowledge is gathered by data mining company systems, working with application development teams, from project meetings, and customer feedback for useful support data and information. This data and information is turned into support knowledge. There are 8 steps to create and mature a knowledge management system. By creating and maturing a knowledge base, a new Help Desk Manager will increase the first contact resolution, which is resolving the issue on first customer contact. A knowledge base will also lower the re-occurrence of customer issues since the issue will be resolved correctly the first time. Learn more by visiting our Help Desk knowledge management guides.

New Help Desk Manager and staff

New Help Desk Manager first 90 days
New Help Desk Manager’s first 90 days

As a new Help Desk Manager, your new staff may have been self-managed, managed by a manager from a different department, or poorly managed by a former manager that has left the company. As a new Help Desk Manager, you must assume there are issues with staff roles, work schedules, attendance expectations, performance, and training. As stated earlier, it is important to set up team meetings and 1:1 meetings with your staff. As you gain their trust you will learn what may be causing some issues with your staff. A good resource is the book High Output Management

Create a mission statement

A mission statement is the cornerstone of your department. It defines the reason your department exists, what it does, and how it does it. A new Help Desk Manager’s department’s mission statement is the foundation which your organizational chart, processes, attitude, and customer interaction are built from. It assists a new Help Desk Manager in evaluating your current state, and progress towards goals, and unifies the department in a strategic direction. Whether it is written down or not, every company has a mission statement. Take ownership and control of your most important statement. For more information, see our Help Desk mission statement guide.

Understand your phone system

First of all, you need to make sure that all Help Desk Agent support calls are recorded. All but the most basic Help Desks will have an Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) and call recording service available.  An ACD will handle incoming and outgoing calls to make sure they follow the call routing rules that you set up. Part of an ACD is usually a call recording and archiving system. Each of the calls handled will be recorded for future playback and review. If you do not have this service available, there are many hosted or onsite service options available. Check with your phone system engineer or vendor for call recording options available. Learn more by visiting our Help Desk telephone system guide.

Understand your ticketing application

Creating a customer contact record or ticket is an industry-standard for Help Desks. Every customer contact with the Help Desk needs a ticket created. Each ticket created needs to follow a classification scheme organized by the customer’s issues when they contact the Help Desk for support. Proper ticket classification of an issue enables the Help Desk Agent to sort the tickets into support buckets. This will allow the Help Desk to quickly identify support trends, reduce the time to identify widespread problems, and focus valuable Information Technology resources on targeted service and business process improvement. To improve first call resolution and metric gathering review our Help Desk ticket category guide.

Create an audit program for tickets and call quality assurance

Proactive Help Desk performance management is more than documenting procedures, measuring KPI metrics, and training staff. To truly find out how well your customers are being handled, the Help Desk management team must audit the calls and tickets on a regular schedule. That is where a Help Desk audit program can help you ensure your Help Desk agents are providing high-quality customer service. Your audit program for Help Desk ticket and call quality will require you to build a grading process, which will allow you to fairly score calls and tickets against a consistent standard. A Help Desk audit program will allow you to gather accurate metrics for incentive awards, fairly gauge agent performance, build annual performance review criteria, develop training programs, and uncover inappropriate behavior. For more information, visit our Help Desk audit program guide.

Gather your key performance indicators

Key performance indicators (KPI) are used by management to understand how the team is performing against goals and objectives. It is important to ensure you are capturing accurate data. Most of your data will come from your phone system, ticketing system, and Help Desk audit program scorecards. To learn more visit our Help Desk key performance indicators section.

Control incident management

An incident is an event not part of the standard operation of the service causing an interruption to the quality of the service. The goal of Incident Management is to return the service to normal functionality quickly while minimizing the impact to the business. You must make sure your team is creating incident tickets, assigning priorities, escalating as needed to appropriate resolver groups, and following up with the customer before closing the Help Desk Incident ticket. As a new Help Desk Manager, you must audit the incident management process to ensure incident priority is set correctly, ticket classification categories are functional, and escalated ticket queues are being managed appropriately. Learn more by visiting our Help Desk incident management section.

10 things a New Help Desk Manager should do

  1. Meet with key stakeholder groups
  2. Learn the business
  3. Mature a Knowledge Base
  4. New Help Desk Manager and staff
  5. Create a Help Desk mission statement
  6. Understand your phone system
  7. Understand your ticketing application
  8. Create an audit program for tickets and call quality assurance
  9. Gather your key performance indicators
  10. Control incident management

Being successful as a Help Desk manager, customers will appreciate when service is outstanding by being courteous, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Implementing the above improvements will ensure you are successful and your customers are happy.

1 Comment

  1. Great ideas.
    You have get to know the strengths and weaknesses of yourself and your staff.
    You also have to trust your staff and your staff has to trust you.
    If something goes wrong or you have an incident or a complaint about service you have to make sure it is clear what happened and evaluate what could be done to either prevent that from happening again or put SOP’s and systems in place that work better and quicker the next time. Everybody makes mistakes. It is important what happens after you or your staff makes a mistake.

    A lot of times systems and procedures are not in place to be able to quickly resolve issues and the staff gets the heat because the group does not have a way to get it done quickly. It is like not having a spare tire when you get a flat and if you did have a spare you do not have a wrench to change it or know how to do it.

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