Help Desk: A Complete Guide (2019)

Whether you are a help desk newbie or you are looking to level up your customer support knowledge, this in-depth guide is all you need.

So, What is a help desk anyway?

A help desk is a place where people go to get answers to their questions. In the real-world - typically a place you can walk up to and ask questions but in the virtual world help desk is a lot different. A modern help desk consists of many channels of communication that allow people to raise a support request and get it answered.

Help Desk: Definition

A service providing information and support to computer users, especially within a company. Often also written as a "Help Desk" (noun).

The term was commonly used from the late 80s but has become very popular in the last two decades with the emergence of CRM (customer relationship management) and focus on customer support and customer experience.

Why do you need a help desk?

A help desk is an essential function in an organization that is required to resolve requests, issues, or complaints promptly. An internal help desk helps to resolve issues within the organization, and an external help desk is needed to service customer, vendor, or partner requests. The goal is to improve customer experience and customer satisfaction.

What are some of the examples of internal and external help desk?

    Internal help desk examples:

  • IT help desk - manage organization IT support function
  • HR help desk - manage onboarding, offboarding and HR grievance process
  • Facilities help desk - Manage support services related to building and equipment

    External help desk examples:

  • Customer support - answer customer requests from any channel
  • Business operations - manage operations of any business unit, e.g., logistics, marketing operations
  • Vendor or partner support - manage communication with vendors or suppliers
HappyFox feature to keep evrything together

What are the most common channels for the help desk?

    A help desk channel is a medium of communication that your customer chooses to submit a support request. Here are the most popular support channels:

  • Self-Service: with a Knowledgebase (FAQs), Self-Service portals, Chatbots, and Community forums
  • Email and Phone support
  • Live Chat -
  • Social media messaging

Who manages a help desk?

Help Desk Admin: A person within an organization who configures and manages a help desk processes, workflows, and tools required for the team to successfully deliver a great customer experience.

Support Manager: Usually, a subject matter expert and person responsible for meeting service level agreement and managing customer support process. A support manager supervises a team of support agents. They ensure work is proportionately distributed between support agents and leads up to a great support experience for customers. In a small business support team or IT team usually has only one support manager while in a large call center setup, there would be more than one support manager.

Support Agent: A person who responds to customer support requests and helps resolves on behalf of the business. Support agents can be both generalists or specialists. Their job core skills can range from technical support, IT support, or business operations support depending on the support function. If support agents are unable to resolve an issue, they escalate the request to a support manager or another specialized support agent.

What is a help desk software?

Help desk software is a tool that helps you collate all support requests in a single place and allow your team to respond to each of the issues in an organized and timely fashion. Most companies that are starting their support team rely on shared inbox or even spreadsheets to manage support requests. Help desk software is also often referred to as a support ticketing system or customer support software.

HappyFox feature to keep evrything together

What is a ticket?

A ticket (also sometimes referred to as case) is a term used to describe a specific customer request, issue or complaint. Ticket Management is the process of managing the life cycle of a ticket from it's initial submission to resolution.

What are the popular help desk software features?

Ticket Management: This is the most basic function of any help desk software. Ability to turn incoming requests into help desk tickets to organize, assign, and take tickets to a successful resolution.

Knowledge Base Management: Ability to create knowledge articles or Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and make it available to end-users to search and find instant answers.

Automation: Most support tickets are repetitive questions. By using automation features like auto-assignment, canned responses, business rules, or workflows - ticket management becomes exceptionally efficient.

SLA management: SLA or service level agreement are goals companies set to meet customer expectations. Example: How soon should the end-user receive the first response? What is an acceptable timeline to completely resolve a ticket? A help desk system would provide the company how often they meet their timeline goals and even alert them when tickets are likely to breach their SLA.

Real-time Reporting: Reports help analyze support performance. Having up to the minute report is essential to improve support operations and manage SLAs.

Asset Management: Helps track tickets related to hardware and software assets. Manage a list of assets and how it impacts your business operations.

How is a service desk different from a help desk?

A service desk is focused on IT service management using the ITIL framework. Some service desk teams that don't necessarily follow the ITIL framework but would still require features like asset management, change management, and approval management.

What questions should you ask yourself before you start looking for a helpdesk solution?

  • What are the main incoming channels you would receive support tickets?
  • Would end users require a self-service portal to submit and view the status of their tickets?
  • How many team members in your organization would need access to the help desk system as an agent?
  • Would your team need to access the app using smartphones or mobile device?
  • How would you organize the various type of tickets you receive?
  • What reports or metrics would you like to see?
Customer service software

Customer Service Software – Feature Comparison Scorecard

Choosing the perfect customer service software isn't easy. A typical help desk includes a ticket management system, a self-service portal, reports, and community forums. To help you narrow down on the ideal customer service tool, we at HappyFox have curated this handy scorecard.

Download Scorecard →

What are some of the most popular help desk software?

Some of the best help desk software available is cloud-based (SaaS). Some of the most popular help desk software includes Zendesk, HappyFox, Jira, Spiceworks, and Kayako.

What are some of the most popular apps that work alongside help desk software?

    As help desk ticketing system is often used with the following business SaaS apps:

  • Sales CRM, e.g., Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics
  • Ecommerce system, e.g., Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce
  • Telephony systems, e.g., Ringcentral, Aircall
  • Remote desktop management solution, e.g., Logmein Rescue
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