Help Desk call handling is the entire phone interaction between Help Desk agent and customer from start to end. This includes customer greeting, validating the identity of the customer, providing issue support, and ending the call. While every interaction can have unique properties, the call sequence should follow a call handling procedure.
Help Desk Call Handling
Question 1 – Does your help desk have a clearly defined call handling process?
If Help Desk agents are not given a call handling procedure and provided training, then they will use an Ad Hoc process. While you don’t want to micromanage the agents, establishing a call handling procedure is important. Establishing a call handling process will set the expectations of the caller. For example, the first requirement is the Help Desk agents need to greet the caller the same way. For example, “Thank you for calling the ACME Corp Help Desk. My name is Bill. May I please have your user ID?” In our example, we greeted the called, told them who we are, and ask for their user-id to start a ticket and pull up their previous records. The next step may be to ask the user, “How can I help you today [user name]?”
The reason you want a call handling process is for the following reasons.
- To set the caller’s expectations.
- To obtain the required information as courteously and efficiently as possible.
Help Desk Call Handling Training
Question 2 – Do you train all help desk staff on the Help Desk call handling processes and they know what is expected from them?
Author Wayne Schlicht of the Help Desk Management book states, “Having a Help Desk call handling process is one thing. Having your Help Desk agents know and use the call handling process is something entirely different. Don’t let your call handling process collect dust. You need to actively train agents on the call handling process. You need to review their call recordings for compliance. You also need to coach the agents when you find an improvement opportunity.
Question 3 – Do you communicate the Help Desk call handling process and procedures to the customer to establish expectations?
Setting the customer’s expectations on the Help Desk call handling process is more than just being courteous. The customer will know what information they will need to provide such as their employee id and perhaps computer asset tag number. It also reduces the average call handle time. A reduction in average call handle time means the agents can handle more calls a day. As a result, the cost per ticket is reduced. Here is how this works.
Identify what information the agent needs to create a Help Desk ticket and provide support. It could be the user employee number, previous support notes, and certain questions you need the caller to answer. By documenting what the needs are, you can communicate this to the customer. They will know what information they need to provide ahead of time, saving everyone time.
Call Routing System
Question 4 – Does your help desk use an automatic call distributor (ACD) telecom call routing system?
An ACD will handle the routing of incoming and outgoing calls. It will ensure the calls are routed to where they need to go. This routing of calls is based on the IP addressing of the sender and receiver. In addition to point-to-point type routing, call routing rules can be set up on the ACD. Call routing rules are the process where a caller is redirected to a specific person, group, or an on-hold waiting queue based on programmed criteria. Programmed means Help Desk phone administrators can set up rules based on time, volume, location, caller selection, language, and other criteria to route the call.
Agent Call Metric Reports
Question 5 – Do you receive regular agent call metric reports such as call handle time and agent occupancy?
The activities performed at a Help Desk are objective and can be measured. There are specific industry-standard Help Desk key performance indicators (KPI) used to create an overall scorecard summarizing how the agent and the team are performing. The improvement project encompasses defining KPIs, gathering KPI data, and displaying KPIs in a meaningful way.
Skills-Based Call Routing
Question 6 – Does the Help Desk utilize skills-based routing, which routes calls to agents with specific skills matching the issue?
Help Desks may handle support calls for multiple companies or support multiple services. Rules can be set up based on the number dialed or input provided by the caller. The rules can send the call to an agent based on their skill set and ability to handle the support call.
Question 7 – Do you utilize front-end announcement messages during call generating events such as a service outage?
A front-end message is a recorded message informing the caller of specific information. Typically, this message will provide the customer with a notice that there is an ongoing incident causing a widespread user-impacting issue. During a widespread issue, the Help Desk will receive more calls than they can handle. When a customer calls the Help Desk, they usually are presented with a greeting and a menu of selections for the type of support they are seeking. Finally, if a Help Desk agent is not immediately available to handle the call, the customer is placed into a queue to wait for the next available agent. The greeting can be appended with a front-end message. The goal of a front-end message is to inform the customer there is an issue, give them any available workaround information and ultimately hang up to reduce the volume of calls agents must handle.
Question 8 – Do you provide tips or resources to help your customers while they are on hold?
Again, if a Help Desk agent is not immediately available to handle the call, the customer is placed into a queue to wait for the next available agent. The greeting can be appended with a front-end informative message. The goal of a front-end informative message is to provide the customer tips on frequently asked questions. For example, the front-end informative message could tell users there is a self-service password reset portal and how to get to it. This information could lead to the caller with a password issue hanging up and using a self-service password reset portal instead.
Warm Transfer of Calls
Question 9 – Do you warm transfer calls to higher support levels when needed?
Even for a mature Help Desk, 20% to 30% of all calls cannot be resolved by the first agent attempting to provide support. However, there are times where the first-level agent can warm transfer the caller or conference into someone who can. By not disconnecting the call with the customer, it improves the customer experience.
Greeting and Closing Scripts
Question 10 – Are the agents required to use an established greeting and closing scripts when handling telephone calls?
Proper customer greetings are incredibly important. A customer greeted positively will set the interaction up for success. Positive greetings, in addition to productive support calls, will lead to customers relationship improvements. When creating a quality assurance audit scorecard, the review of the greeting area is a core component. An approved greeting script should be provided to the Help Desk agent, and they should receive training on how to use the script. The script should include the following criteria.
While resolving the customer’s issue is the primary goal of the entire interaction, the closing phase can really make a difference. Too many Help Desk agents rush through the closing phase of customer support.
Resolution Validation – Before ending the call, the Help Desk agent must positively identify that the customer’s issue has been resolved or their question has not been answered.
Issue Escalation – If the issue has not been resolved, the Help Desk agent must provide the customer with some information. This information includes the ticket number, the next steps of the escalation, and a timeframe for additional support by the escalation group.