Continuing my quest for openness and accessibility for the help desk and wondering what to do whilst lounging at home recovering from surgery, I got to thinking about ways to get people to use the help desk.
One thought I was turning over in my head was an idea for Help Desk "open days." It would be a way to get people to walk into the office and meet the people who work there. I would make up a few leaflets, laminate a few cards that listed the opening hours and contact details, and hold question-and-answer sessions, so that the help desk could keep abreast of the issues that affect the users directly.
To me it is very important to keep track of what is going on not only in the IT department but also in the general user community. If there is an influx of new people in the company, we need to make sure that all the preparatory work is done, that they have logins and equipment, and that the necessary places are booked on training courses. If you have the help desk as part of the company and not some remote voice on the end of the phone, it means that people will feel easier about coming forward and asking for things.
It is also harder for them to give you a hard time if they know you as a person.
It has often been the practice of some companies to hide the help desk away in a basement or even in another building, thus emphasizing the remote nature of our work. That is fine if you are supporting remote workers, but I feel it is better if the help desk is part of the community and people look on us as colleagues rather than as another external supplier of services that may not have anything to do with the business.
My estimate is that there is a 80/20 skill balance between customer service and technical skills for the average help desk analyst, and I feel that it is important that we all recognize this balance. In the past I have encountered people with superlative technical skills and knowledge who I would never allow within a hundred yards of a customer; paradoxically, I know many excellent help desk analysts who have very little technical knowledge but who do have the skills to listen, record, and glean information from all sources in order to build resolutions.
With this in mind, opening the help desk up to visitors will give end users a better image of the IT department and will give the help desk free access to the issues faced in the real world by real users.
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