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The Help Desk (and Other Workplace Myths)

Updated on May 27, 2010

Help desk or helpless desk?

If you work in an office environment, chances are you’ve had a problem with your computer, printer or fax machine at some time or another. And, if your office is like most, you were required to put in a help desk ticket.

And, if this occurred over the past few weeks, there’s about a 15% chance you’re still waiting for assistance.

Unfortunately, the modern day help desk has become a model of inefficiency, as employees are forced to sit “on hold” for up to an hour, or submit a “ticket” with required fields such as dns, tcp/ip, trusted domains, and proxy connections - information the average person couldn‘t possibly know.

In other words, many companies don’t have a help desk so much as a helpless desk.

One of my first experiences with the help desk occurred several years back. I logged on my computer and found that my e-mail was running extremely slow. So, I opened a help desk ticket. Within an hour the ticket had been closed. The resolution to my problem? “Informed user that e-mail was slow”.


Some help desk tickets feature a “severity” field, to indicate the criticality of the issue. Most people will select the highest level, thinking they will get assistance quicker. Not so! Because everyone else is selecting the highest level, and as we all know - if everyone is first, then everyone is also last.

On the flip side…

I’ve worked in tech support, and I’m convinced there are people out there who should be prohibited by law from coming within 100 feet of any electro-mechanical device more complex than an alarm clock. I’ve had clients who swore to me they right-clicked an icon when we both know they double-clicked; who told me their operating system was Microsoft Word; who held documents up to their monitor and pressed the “print screen” key and couldn’t understand why there was nothing in their printer tray. Seriously.

So, how then to make your help desk more efficient? Simple:

Make it more user-friendly. Recognize that tech support personnel are dealing with users of varying levels of technical knowledge and sophistication.

Make your tech support personnel actually troubleshoot the problem, and not just give the user the “top five fixes” (delete your temporary files, clear your cache, cold boot, etc.).

Monitor workflow and make adjustments accordingly. If the average wait time between ticket submission and resolution is more than four hours, you’re just not doing it right.

By following these simple steps, your business can make the help desk truly THIS PROGRAM IS NOT RESPONDING… THIS PROGRAM IS NOT RESPONDING… THIS PROGRAM IS NOT RESPONDING…


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