If you’ve ever had an issue with a company’s website and filled out a contact form to explain the details of your issue, you’ve probably interacted with IT help desk software without realizing it. As a customer, creating a help desk ticket provides an easy way for you to flag an issue with the company and hopefully receive a quick response.
As a managed services provider (MSP), IT help desk software can provide a number of unseen benefits beyond making customers’ lives easier. To understand the full extent of possible benefits automated help desk software can bring, this article will break down what it is, how it works, and how to choose the right software for your business.
What is IT help desk software?
IT help desk software helps businesses provide customers with support in their interactions with company processes, services, and products. Help desks were designed to centralize resources, answer queries, troubleshoot issues, and provide solutions to common or uncommon issues.
If not properly managed, customer requests and issues related to customer care can be overwhelming in large organizations. Moreover, a company’s reputation for customer service can be significantly damaged if a help desk, or alternative support operations, are not established. Help desk software uses categorization, prioritization, automated routing, escalation capabilities, and service level management to deliver effective and rapid support to customers.
What are the advantages of automated customer service?
Automated customer service offers numerous advantages that can significantly improve the efficiency of your MSP and pass benefits back to your customers. Here are just a few of the most notable advantages:
- Reduces human error
- Frees up time so human agents can excel in other areas
- Reduces the need to hire more employees as you scale up
- No training required
- Minimal supervision necessary
- Minimizing the wait time for customers, which can increase customer satisfaction
How do you automate a help desk?
The following eight management and workflow optimization ideas can help MSPs automate or improve their help desk operations, making them more efficient and less resource-intensive. Doing so has benefits for parties on both sides of the help desk.
1. Standardize billing across the board.
IT help desk software that standardizes billing is likely to save you a significant amount of time and resources. Ideally, standardized billing will let you set up and associate specific service items for each of your customers, meaning you can calculate invoices automatically. You should be able to break down service items into hours, flat fee, and project-based rates—so you can standardize payments no matter how you take them. The ability to set up hourly or monthly retainer contracts is also useful.
Standardized billing is at its best when combined with support for flexible rates. The best MSP automated help desks will let you enter hourly rates when dealing with new requests that are outside your preset contractual work.
2. Ensure there’s a place for centralized customer knowledge.
MSPs can always benefit from an in-depth understanding of their customer base. They should know if someone is exceeding their monthly SLAs, how much money each customer is bringing in, and which customers take up the most of your time.
MSP help desk services with a centralized customer knowledge base give you the answers to these questions by storing all your customer information in one place. This could include passwords, expiration dates, procedures, serial numbers, asset information, contact details, and locations for each customer. This information can support revenue forecasting, resource allocation, and your understanding of contract utilization.
3. Provide a branded customer portal.
When hunting for the right IT software, a top priority for MSPs is being able to apply their own brand to the product. The ability to add your own logo, your company URL, and tweak settings to reflect your branding helps ensure you’re at the forefront of your customers’ minds when they’re using the service. This will help ensure your customers directly associate you with their experience—which increases the likelihood of them recommending you and using your other services.
4. Offer a mobile application to give technicians flexibility in providing support.
Even with the most advanced remote management tools, it’s likely your technicians will need to provide hands-on support at some stage. MSP help desk services that come with mobile applications that give technicians rapid access to client information can save you a lot of time and make your hands-on operations significantly more efficient. It’s also helpful if the mobile application offers technicians access to your billing system. Mobile applications can also be used to deliver push notifications, track time, and manage tickets while on the go.
5. Lean into automation to enable workforce scheduling support.
The bigger your MSP gets, the harder it becomes to manage everyone’s schedules. Automated help desk software is vastly improved by support for workforce scheduling, which could involve the ability to add appointments quickly and easily, add details to appointments, associate tickets, and synchronize with other calendars, like Google Calendar and Outlook. Workforce scheduling capabilities can also help you ensure tickets are assigned to technicians with the appropriate skills and availability.
6. Look for features that ease the transition from email to ticket creation.
This is an extremely useful ticket management feature that creates tickets directly from emails. This allows your customers to submit queries via email. Then the emails get rapidly converted into help desk tickets that you can assign accordingly. The best email to ticket creation features capture a record of all email correspondence within the ticket itself, so technicians don’t waste customer time by asking the same questions more than once.
7. Make sure there are ways to track time.
Managing invoices and billing is a crucial part of every MSP’s service delivery—but completing your billing cycle at the end of each month can take days if you don’t have the right tools at your disposal. A great IT help desk reduces the amount of time spent on billing by providing built-in time tracking for all support tickets to boost accuracy and prevent billing disputes. Batch invoice generation and export are also helpful features, which can streamline your billing cycle.
8. Accounting software integrations help ensure finances are in order.
For MSPs, maintaining robust and ongoing accounting processes is a necessity that can prevent future issues and financial difficulty. A fantastic feature to look for in IT help desk software is the ability to integrate with accounting software. QuickBooks and Xero are among the most popular and easy-to-use accounting programs—but you should keep an eye out for automated help desk software that supports whichever integrations you need.
Choosing the Right Automated Help Desk Software
The great news is that SolarWinds® MSP Manager can help you achieve all eight of the optimizations in the above list. This IT service management system was designed specifically for use by MSPs, which makes managing your customers and their queries hassle-free and quick.
MSP Manager’s customer management features are extensive, helping you keep track of everything you might need to know about a particular customer. This includes contacts within the organization, rates, key details, contracts, billing information, ticket histories, and much more. Everything is organized in an intuitive and centralized system, simplifying the process of onboarding new customers and keeping track of current ones.
One of the best MSP Manager features is that it considers the way your employees see the dashboard, rather than just your customers. The dashboard gives engineers a clear overview of their open tickets, lets them view requests in the order of their prioritization, and check their personal statistics. MSP Manager even lets you health check your organization—providing an overview of your employees’ productivity.
With efficient ticketing, clear reporting, batch invoice generation, and much more, it’s no surprise SolarWinds MSP Manager sees widespread use among MSPs. A free 14-day trial is available here.