Helpdesks are a critical touch point for organizations. When customers are frustrated, confused or experience problems with a product or service, it falls to the support group to save the relationship.
And as Five9 pointed out in a recent infographic, 85% of consumers who have a bad experience with a customer support contact will retaliate against the company; 49% will stop doing business with them.
Given the ease with which enraged customers can use social media channels to broadcast their displeasure, does it follow that organizations must deploy massive, highly skilled teams to the helpdesk in order to protect their reputation?
Absolutely not. The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80-20 rule, is particularly apt for helpdesk operations. Eighty percent of your customers who contact your helpdesk will ask about the same 20% of issues. To deliver world-class support, you’ll need to excel at handling routine questions, and provide escalation channels for those customers who truly need a higher level of hands-on assistance.
Online Help
At Velocity, we are using analytics to mine and model the support history across our customer base such that we can automate common requests and provide answers online for users who are comfortable with self-service.  Velocity value’s our high touch relationships with our customers but recognize that for routine questions, some users prefer to search and find their own answers.  Often, this online help will focus on answering questions such as how to reset a password, access a popular feature, or navigate an upgrade.  When developing online help files to address routine customer questions, we aim to use simple, straightforward language and include lots of screenshots or images.  If an end user is looking for an answer using our online help section, we want the answer they find to be complete.  Although we never discourage our customers from not calling, we understand that a user who wants to help his or herself wants to be productive and needs the online help to be of great quality.  
Historically at Velocity, we have not made delineations between helpdesk tiers.  When our customers call during functional support hours, they talk directly to certified experts without needing to know whether their issue is a Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3 issue.  Now that Velocity provides onsite helpdesk support for customers to include PC, Citrix, and LAN support, we have adopted a tiered approach to support end users on site.  
Tier 1 Helpdesk
As you think about your Tier 1 helpdesk, it’s important to realize they are are often the face of your company for internal users and has the largest impact within IT on the employee experience.  A common expectation of the Tier 1 level is that they  they should be able to resolve 80% of the incoming calls. When we fall below this metric at the Tier 1 level, we look at training opportunities. 
Ideally Tier 1 helpdesk personnel should be fully versed on the products and services, and preferably have substantial hands-on experience.
In general, we view the role of Tier 1 helpdesk is to:
  • Answer basic implementation questions, and help customers get up and running
  • Explain feature use cases, as well as direct customers to additional sources of information (e.g. product manual, online tutorials, on-demand webinars, etc.)
  • Perform basic troubleshooting and problem resolution (once again, the 80-20 rule will apply to incoming calls)
  • Escalate issues to Tier 2 as needed, as well as set customer expectations for follow-up (i.e. when to expect a follow-up contact and by whom)
When escalating an issue to Tier 2, the hand-off of the issue is critical to success.  Tier 1 reps should have access to forms that prompt them for the complete range of information the Tier 2 rep will need to begin working on an issue. Asking frustrated customers to repeat information disclosed in a previous call can result in a poor customer experience.
Tier 2 Helpdesk
Tier 2 should resolve every issue that’s escalated from Helpdesk by first engaging the customer directly and assessing their situation first hand.  In the event they can’t resolve the issue with a hands-on visit, the rep should work with engineers or programmers to resolve the issue while maintaining updates with the customer. The Tier 2 helpdesk rep should remain the point of contact for the customer until the issue is fully resolved. The end result is a customer that sees  professional staff that are able to assist them first hand and drive the resolution to a close for them. 
In general, Tier 2 Helpdesks should:
  • Perform higher levels of troubleshooting by engaging the customer directly 
  • Interact with other departments within the organization as needed to resolve an issue
  • Regularly update the customer with regards to issue status
  • Analyze, triage and report problems or issues to the product management group so that they can be addressed in future releases
  • Share best practices with team members and the Tier 1 helpdesk in order to expand the range of issues Tier 1 can handle
In some cases, organizations may opt to establish a Tier 3 helpdesk in cases where the client must work directly with the company’s engineers to resolve an issue. For most organizations, however, online help, combined with two tiers of helpdesk support is the best approach to providing customer assistance to all clients.
If you would like to continue the dialogue about best practices for end user support, please connect with us here. We feel passionately about the Customer experience and Support is critical to success.