Help Desk Software – beginner’s guide
If you work in a big company (like me for example) you know that things are a little more complicated when it comes to it help desk because all requests are processed through help desk software.
Back in the days when I was working as a network administrator things were different. My mobile phone and my desk phone rang like crazy. I was running from one office to another helping my colleagues with their technical problems. At the end of the day if my boss asked what I have done that day it was difficult for me to remember all the tasks I have completed.
But now, with the technology has evolved and you can use a dedicated help desk software to keep all the tasks addressed to the IT department under control. But a help desk management software can be fitted on more than just IT department tasks.
What is a helpdesk software?
A helpdesk software is the interface of the helpdesk resource that is meant to offer support and information to a customer or end user regarding a company’s or institution’s products and services. The role of a help desk is mostly to resolve problems or offer counseling on their products like electronics, computers, software, apparel and so on. Big companies offer help desk support via different channels like email, IM (instant messaging), toll free numbers or websites.
As I were saying before, the term help desk initially reflected the team that offered technical support related to the company IT infrastructure for the other employees but this quickly expanded into something more.
So what is help desk software (or ITS – issue tracking system, incident ticket system, support ticket, request management or trouble ticket system)? Generally it is a computer program that acts like a database holding and managing lists with issues. These help desk management software are generally used by a company to make, maintain, and answer reported customer requests, or requests issued by the company’s own employees.
An issue tracking software is in fact a database that holds information about each and every customer, solutions to usual problems, and many more.
A ticket from the help desk software is a report regarding a specific issue, its current status and other pertinent data. This kind of tickets are generated by the help desk or the call center team and they have an unique identifier, mostly known as a case. This identifier is used to help users working with the customer service software to identify fast, add to or notify the users regarding the status of their request.
The name of the system (ITS or incident ticket system) comes from the traditional way this help desk software has evolved and that is a small card (or memo notes) being used on a wall mounted work planner.
Fig. 1 Wall mounted word planner
The workers that received a call or a request were filling a small note, writing the user’s details and a short summary of their request and sticking it (usually at the bottom) in a column of pending tasks for an engineer. The staff that got the card was, in this way, informed about the request and its priority.
How does a help desk software work?
The design of a tracking system is rather simple as there is one database involved and the customer service software does all the job of sorting and keeping the data structured and readable for the operators. This data is available to the operators or technicians through a web help desk interface or another software application. If an operator makes a change in the system it is recorded so that later a history of changes and who made them is available. Each user that is present in the system can have assigned tasks and also he or she can assign the task to another user if necessary.
Tickets have an urgency status assigned to them, based on the entire importance of that task. Other information will contain the date of submission, detailed descriptions from the user that generated the request, tried solutions and other relevant data. As I have said before every ticket has a history of each change.
An ideal help desk software tracking system should work like this:
- An operator (technician) receives an email, phone call or other kind of communication form from another employee or customer. Some help desk management software have a built in messaging system and automatic error reporting from exception handling blocks.
- The operator has to verify that the request is pertinent and not just a hunch. The operator will also make sure that enough data is gathered from the customer (like the environment where the problem appears, when and how and other relevant information).
- The operator records the ticket in system, stating all the data provided by the customer (or employee).
- As the issue is being resolved the ticket switched its state to pending and every step tried for fixing the problem is noted in the system.
- After the problem has been fixed, the ticket is marked as resolved in the help desk software.
In the “backstage” of a customer help desk software there can be found several dedicated teams addressing several issues. Here are some possible teams:
Server team: Every organization (company) has (some have this externalized though) a server, or more servers that need to be configured and maintained. They are responsible with the configuration of DNS (domain name server), network sharing, network authenticating, email accounts, network resources and other server software related tasks. The issues this team is responsible might include other comprehensive services like storage and management software systems, database maintenance, focused proprietary services and other server-oriented issues.
Desk side team: This team sometimes known as the “desktop support” is taking care of tasks coming from laptops, desktops and peripherals area. The operators assign these kinds of tasks to the second-level desk side team if the first level team did not solve them. This team is especially responsible to configure computers for the new users that come into the company and they also fix various physical issues related to computers or repair software or computer hardware.
Network team: This team is set to take over tasks related to network hardware, software and infrastructure, like servers, firewalls, backup systems, switches, routers. They also configure email accounts, file management, network services, security issues and other network related tasks.
Misc. teams: Some organizations have a telecom team that handle tickets related to infrastructure like setting up PBX’s, VoIP, voicemail, phone sets, fax machines or modems. Other companies have teams dedicated to custom software applications that are used inside the organization (for example CRM, ERP, etc.).
A help desk software can be accessed via remote access from virtually any location that has an internet or vpn connection. An operator or technician is able to resolve a lot of help desk issues that are not conditioned by physical access to the computer (or device) from various locations like the comfort of their home or other company offices around the world.