Help desks should constantly strive to improve their methods of client interaction. Users must feel comfortable with the help desk and know they will receive prompt, courteous, and effective support. Here are ten practices your help desk can use to strengthen user relations and improve client utilization.

  1. Be proactive. Don’t wait for a problem to occur before you meet the users—get out there and introduce yourself and the team. In touring the building, you may find ways to improve the way users work. You may be able to show them easier ways to work, shortcuts, better software, and so on.
  2. Have a help desk open house. This get-together is a great way of receiving feedback on your work and learning exactly what the users want. Everything you teach the user is one less problem log later. It also shows the user that you want to improve communication, breaking down that “us and them” atmosphere.
  3. Make contacts in each department of the company. Forge links with these power users and authorize them to handle routine problems. When necessary, these contacts can report more serious issues and training deficiencies relevant to their department.
  4. Publish a monthly newsletter. You can offer hints and tips related to the most commonly asked questions, as well as getting your face known around the company.
  5. Set up an intranet page for the help desk. You could have a short biographical piece on each team member, detailing hobbies, interests, and special areas of expertise, as well as an online form for reporting problems during off hours.
  6. Tag every piece of supported equipment. While you are designing the tags, why not include the help desk number? You could also include useful information like reminding the caller to make a note of any error messages, to call from a phone that is adjacent to the equipment, to have the equipment running when they call—all those annoying things that often waste time.
  7. Publicize the help desk. Get some posters up that show the hours of operation, what you can help with, and what the help desk’s phone number is. You would be amazed how many people do not know the help desk number and call via the switchboard.
  8. Send every user a laminated help desk tips card. On one side, list the help desk’s phone number, e-mail address, and hours of operation. On the other, print helpful tips, such as noting error messages, calling from the room where the equipment sits, and remembering what they were doing when the error occurred.
  9. Work yourself out of a job. Make your users the best trained, best supported, and most efficient in the world. In the highly unlikely event that you make the entire help desk redundant, your bonus and promotion package should be out of this world!
  10. Most important of all, enjoy yourself. Have a joke with your colleagues and, where appropriate, with the callers. Some help desks I have visited are so serious that you wonder whether it can be any fun at all to work there. When the users start to include you on their e-mail distribution lists for jokes, you know you have reached them in a way that means that true communication has been achieved.

Let us know how many of these practices your help desk is currently using. We also want to hear about any other methods you’re using that we didn’t mention. Send us your feedback!