10 ways to convince your staff to use the help desk

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 10 practices your help desk can use to strengthen user relations and improve client utilization.

This information, which originally appeared as "Talking Shop: Convince users to utilize the help desk," is also available as a PDF download.

#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 do their jobs, 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 fewer problem log later. It also shows the user that you want to improve communications, breaking down that "us and them" atmosphere.

#3: Make contacts in each department of the company

Forge links with the power users and authorize them to handle routine problems. When necessary, these contacts can report more serious issues and training deficiencies relevant to their departments.

#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

Your page 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 users 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.