As more companies incorporate the benefits of remote work into their operations, they’re also relying more heavily on help desk solutions to support geographically distributed teams. For managed services providers (MSPs), booming customer interest in remote service solutions likely means that investing in their service desk capabilities needs to be high on the list of priorities.
The service desk is often the first point of contact for your customers when they have an issue, so it’s critical your teams have the tools and training both to make a good impression and to resolve issues in a timely manner. The good news is that adopting service desk best practices can also help you manage your operational expenses more efficiently. Here are a few organizational strategies and best practices for preparing your technicians to help you deliver superior service that keeps end users happy.
Create an accessible customer portal
When your customers need help, they need a hassle-free way to request help. Customer portal software provides a reliable and consistent point of access for end users, while also extending a number of useful benefits to MSPs. Many customer portals support integration with cloud-based IT ticketing systems, enabling MSPs to provide seamless technical services and manage their workflows more efficiently.
Customer portals should also include a knowledge base or self-service option. Studies and surveys have found the majority of customers (roughly 67%) prefer to use self-service options over speaking with a customer representative or technician. In many cases, end users are looking for a quick fix for issues they can easily resolve on their own, without the need to create additional service tickets. The advantages of this are two-fold: customers feel empowered to resolve issues independently, and your service desk teams will have more time to attend to complex problems that require hands-on additional support.
Establish an IT service catalog
In addition to creating a knowledge base and customer portal, MSPs should consider developing an IT service catalog, which essentially functions as a meta roadmap for your customers. A service catalog should include clear instructions that detail the proper way to open a service ticket, as well as how the service desk will respond to the ticket, and who to contact in case the end user has additional questions. Service catalogs can include elements like:
- Catalog item name
- Category of service (whether the ticket is related to hardware, infrastructure, software, or another kind of support)
- Cost of service (if applicable)
- Ticket approval structure
- Ticket tracking process
- Relevant security or privileged access permissions
- Expectations regarding delivery or ticket resolution
- Point of contact
Build effective workflow and escalation processes
The wide variety of incoming service desk ticket types can often present a greater challenge than ticket volume—MSPs also need to think about ticket prioritization and escalation. The right IT service desk software helps to ensure incoming tickets end up in the right bucket and workflow, while also increasing the transparency of internal processes.
There are some key benefits to specializing your teams (such as improved expertise over their particular areas of focus, which drives faster issue resolution). But your ticketing platform should also allow your help desk technicians to easily check the status of any issue—and step in or take over as needed. Providing your customers with a combination of expertise and flexibility is a crucial part of successful service operations and increased customer satisfaction.
Establish clear service level agreements
Service level agreements (SLAs) are another element of MSP operations that benefits MSPs and customers alike. Having clear, defined internal goals makes it easier for your teams and analysts to understand and measure success. They also help to establish end user expectations for the services you provide and make sure everyone is on the same page.
SLAs aren’t one size fits all, and they can be useful benchmarks—both for tailoring your services to meet the specific needs of your customers and, if the time comes to evaluate or renegotiate contracts, to demonstrate the type, quality, or quantity of service you’re providing your customers.
Cultivate a proactive internal culture
While focusing on cost-efficiency and streamlining your operational costs may sound like a good strategy on paper, doing so can actually negatively impact the quality of your customer support in significant ways.
Instead, prioritize making sure your customers have access to the services they need to carry out their everyday responsibilities and tasks. One way to position your team as being partners in problem resolution rather than aloof technicians is by taking the time to communicate with end users about everything, from how long it typically takes to resolve similar tickets, to the next steps your technicians are planning to take.
Providing a degree of transparency into your operations can help dispel some of the service desk mystique, minimize customer frustration, and ambiently increase awareness of the other forms of support that your teams provide. Encouraging your teams to be proactive when presented with opportunities to assist end users instead of waiting for someone to create a ticket—so long as doing so aligns with your SLAs—is another method of demonstrating the value-add of your services.
Empower your team with MSP Manager
SolarWinds® MSP Manager is a cloud-based IT ticketing system designed to outfit service providers with tools like rapid and intuitive ticketing services, scheduling, accurate and easy billing, robust and powerful reporting, customizable knowledge management and integration with SolarWinds RMM and N-central®. Your teams will be more efficient and better prepared to deliver superior service in no time.
To experience the features of MSP Manager for yourself and allow your technicians to begin familiarizing themselves with the software, try it out free for 14 days—no credit card required.