10 Things to Aid in Building a Top-level Help Desk


The key to any top-level help desk is to build trust and confidence in your customer base which in turn helps to establish credibility. By delivering consistent, quality customer service, your client base will trust you more and more and use the help desk as a go to source for information and resolving issues. This helps the entire organization to leverage resources and in turn make more efficient use of everyone’s time.

Below are principles every top-level help desk should strive for:

  1. Make sure your smile comes through the phone– The number one way to win over a customer is to be polite and courteous no matter how bad the situation. You may not win the client over today, but there is a good chance the user will call again. Eventually, the customer will understand that you do truly care about their issues and that you will not waver in being polite and courteous.
  2. Listening is #1– Clearly understanding the users issue and communicating a timely resolution helps to build trust and confidence. Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than having to spend 5-10 minutes explaining an issue. Ask questions that are to the point and make sure to confirm understanding of the issue.
  3. No problem is too small– Treat every problem like it is a work stoppage. Even though the issue may be less urgent, it may be very urgent to the customer. In other words, never undercut the customer’s feelings on a particular issue. Customers will appreciate the attentiveness and recognition of their urgency.
  4. Honesty– Being honest is critical to good customer service. If you don’t know the answer, then tell the customer you don’t know. After all, we are not all astronauts. Being up front with the customer and letting them know that you will research this issue and get back to them gains credibility with the customer.
  5. Don’t Make False Promises– If you say you will call the customer back in 2 hours, than make sure you do. Even if you don’t have the solution within 2 hours, don’t leave the customer hanging. The customer will appreciate the fact that you took the time to call and give them an update. False promises lead to an overall dilution of the help desk reputation.
  6. Empathy– If a client calls frustrated, it is important to let them know that you understand and sympathize with them. I have always found that the easiest way to do this is to take on the user’s problem as if it is your own. This is especially important with new customers that don’t even know where to start. Empathy is another way to build trust and confidence with a customer which leads to a better overall feeling about the help desk.
  7. Encouragement– Every customer, whether veterans or newbies, needs encouragement from time to time. The key is to provide encouragement that will get them excited about learning and completing the task at hand.
  8. Positive Positive Positive– Always keep things positive. It is ok to provide empathy however being drawn into the customers negativity will not help resolve the issue.
  9. Leveraging Resources– Leverage resources to keep customer wait times down and to keep help desk staff fresh. If at all possible, staff the help desk well so that the user rarely gets dumped into voice mail. Also, limit the amount of up-front menu options so that the customer can quickly get to a live person. Too many menu options will likely result in the customer being on edge by the time they reach you.
  10. Service Level Agreements (SLA’s)– Refer to the help desk contract so that you are providing realistic expectations to clients.

You will notice above that I focused more on mindset then actual knowledge. True, you need knowledge to resolve issues however I believe the help desk should be about delivering an experience, not merely an answering service. The help desk should be a tool used by the organization to build solid and trustworthy relationships with its customers. Use the above principles and you will likely have a successful help desk and an even more successful organization.

Author: Christopher Wurm, Senior Consultant at Courtland Consulting