Help Me Helpdesk
October 10, 2014 12:18 PM   Subscribe

The company I work for has been in the paper-scanner business (and previously microfilm) for years, but this world is moving away from hardware and into software; we're moving from canned air and screwdrivers and into a 'helpdesk' capacity. What software works best to manage this?

I've never worked for a place that does "helpdesk" support before, and neither has anyone else here. Our support-tracking software is designed around dispatches -- you're sent out to fix a scanner, and you it doesn't work well for a series of 3-minute phonecalls with a variety of customers or remote desktop support.

What the higher-ups want is to be able to track all contact with customers, not just when we need to go onsite. This would include a 2-minute call where we tell them to reboot and let us know if that doesn't fix it, or email correspondence where the entirety of the conversation is "can you unlock my locked user?" and "your user is unlocked, let me know if you have any other trouble." Most of our correspondence with customers is on very short timespans, and the granularity is too small for our current systems so it doesn't get tracked.

Now, we have put a trouble-ticket system in place, but it only seems to work well when the person needing support creates a ticket; the process of us creating tickets as a means of tracking a simple customer question is collecting either bad data or no data. When it takes longer to create the ticket than it took to reply to the emailed question, that's not working well for us. We're trying to funnel all customer contact through the ticket system, but that's not always sufficient.

So, how to real tech-support companies keep and track metrics of customer contact via phone, email, Lync/Jabber, etc? What I envision is that you have a webpage or program up, and every time you experience customer contact you click a dropdown, click a button to start/end, maybe enter quick few notes about what you did, and that's it. Is this how tech support does things, or how is this usually handled? What sort of software is used for this function?
posted by AzraelBrown to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's called Customer Relationship Management. There are tons of programs, costing from free to a bajillions of dollars. My office uses SalesForce, but that falls on the "bajillions" side of the cost spectrum/.
posted by Think_Long at 12:26 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

The helpdesk at my company uses Zendesk. At previous jobs, they used Remedy (not sure if that's even still a viable product).
posted by primethyme at 12:34 PM on October 10, 2014

Zendesk is very popular for this. JIRA works well, too.

I'd disagree with Think_Long in that these systems usually exist in parallel with CRM systems - for instance, we have SFDC, but JIRA for tracking all customer support and technical development work.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 12:39 PM on October 10, 2014

My company uses Zendesk and we've generally been happy with it. You can definitely set it up so that if someone emails it creates a Zendesk ticket.

MotMyselfRightNow is right that ticketing systems do usually work with a CRM, but they don't have to.
posted by radioamy at 2:29 PM on October 10, 2014

The Helpdesk Institute has a lot of information on running and managing helpdesks, including the different programs used to track issues.

You might also want to research ITIL, which is a framework of best practices for IT support that a lot of the products incorporate.
posted by nalyd at 1:36 PM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

You want to be able to use a checkbox for common issues like password reset, unlock account, yes, that's a windows update, Intrenet access is down but will be up shortly, etc. You should be able to email tickets to the system, with a bcc: to the end user, with a response and comments indicating that the ticket is resolved, assigned to a particular group or individual, or whatever.

Your phone system should be able to track incoming calls, time on hold, hangups, and possibly more. It's nice if it has the ability to indicate when there are more than N calls waiting, or calls waiting for longer than N minutes.

Higherups always want granular data, and it seems like that data should be easy to generate. But callers just want a fast answer and hate having to go through ticketing. My name is Fran Jones, no, FrankJ is Frank Johnson in Accounting, I'm FranJ, F as in Frances, R a sin Rabbit, A as in Apple, N as in Nancy, J as in Jelly. Oh, come on, I just need to ask Sam to bounce our test server. Your user database has to be able to find users fast. It's useful to have data on time of day and day of week you are busiest, recurrent calls that indicate a problem with your systems, viruses, etc. I used to go in and just read tickets, partly to look for low-hanging fruit to get closed fast, but also to spot trends. Trends might be a user who gets a lot of lockouts and whose machine may be getting hit a lot for some reason, users who get a lot of viruses because they're gullible or love to install crap, and staff who have areas where they need training.
posted by theora55 at 1:15 PM on October 20, 2014

You can always use a fake email address if you just need to get over the speedbump.

I like to use something like
I can search for it to exclude it from email addresses, and if it does get through, it's okay, because resolves to, meaning any mailserver will route the email to itself.

If there's any kind of field customization (salesforce has this for certain, though it's inelegant as a support ticketing system, IMO), you may be able to disable the "required field" status of the email field.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:59 PM on October 20, 2014

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