Help desk

9 Aug 2016
Harish Mani
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A help desk is a department in an organization which helps in the following:
  • Technical queries resolution
  • Service request fulfillment
  • Solving issues raised by end users
The main goal of the help desk is to help user return to normal services, so that there is no hindrance in his ongoing work. Depending on organization’s convenience they can outsource the help desk support or can have an in-house help desk.
Help desk may follow a hierarchical structure. At each level there will be service desk analysts with different level of skill sets. First level analyst usually help the users with simple issues and commonly asked questions. If the analyst at first level is not able to resolve the issue, then it will be transferred to second level. Second level analysts are more experienced and are able to resolve complex queries. Based on the size of the organization, it may also have analysts at third level. These analysts usually deal with software related issues such as bug fixing or software updates.
To raise a request or an issue, a user can contact the help desk via telephone, e- mail, or help desk software. Now a days the most commonly used methodology to log any issues or requests is via help desk software. This software helps to track the progress of the ticket and communicate the same to the user. The software used by the help desk is usually a web based application.
Mentioned below are few terminologies which makes it easier to understand how the help desk application works:
Ticket: A ticket is a request raised by a user on help desk application. There can be different types of tickets like:
  • Change Request: User can request for any specific hardware or software which s/he wants to be installed in his / her system.
  • Security: This is mainly used for User account creation / modification / deletion
  • Issue: Focuses specifically on the technical issues faced by the user.
  • Queries: User will select this option if he wants an understanding or need guidance on certain processes / functionalities
  • Others: User will select this option if s/he is not sure about the category in which the ticket will fit in.
Status: Status will display the actual status of the ticket. A help desk application can have the following status:
  • Open: The ticket status will be open, when no service desk analyst / agent is assigned to the ticket.
  • WIP: The status of the ticket will be set to WIP, when an analyst / agent is working on the ticket.
  • On-Hold: Status will be on-hold if the analyst / agent requires additional input from the user. Status can also be kept on-hold if the submitted ticket requires approval from a higher authority or depends on deployment.
  • Resolved: An analyst will set the status to “Resolved” once he has fixed the issue from his end.
  • Closed: Status will be set to “Closed” once the end user confirms that the issue has been fixed.
Priority: Depending on the urgency, the priority will be set to High, Medium and Low. Tickets will be resolved depending on the priority of the tickets.
  • Example: Helpdesk team receives two tickets with “High” Priority from two employees A and B for the same issue saying “system’s speaker is not working”. Employee A is the manager and employee B is a level 2 employee who has a project demo with the client on Skype. In this case based on the explanation on the raised ticket, help desk team will give high priority to Employee B’s ticket considering s/he has demo with the client.
A general workflow of help desk ticket can be explained in the following manner:
  • A user submits a ticket on the help desk application. While submitting the ticket, user can also add details regarding the issue faced.
  • As soon as the ticket is submitted, an agent / analyst is assigned to the ticket depending on his / her availability.
  • In the process of resolving the ticket, an agent / analyst may interact with the user, if required. If the ticket needs approval from higher authority, it will be assigned to appropriate person.
  • Once the issue has been resolved, agent / analyst will change the status of the ticket to “Resolved”.
  • A notification will be sent to the user from help desk application, stating that the issue has been resolved. If the user is happy with the provided solution s/he will change the status of the ticket to “Closed”, else s/he can keep the ticket open along with the reason for the same.
  • The ticket may be added to the knowledge base by the agent / analyst. The knowledge base can be later referred to provide quick solutions, in case the users face the same problem again.
Conclusion:
It is the responsibility of the help desk team to make sure that there is no downtime in an organization which would hamper the productivity. Help desk application helps in effective communication between the users and the help desk analyst. It also supports help desk analyst in tracking and resolving the issues at the earliest.