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Thursday 11th November 2010 Managing Help Desk Stress

Help desks are often considered to be stressful places. They are your front line in terms of customer service and support which means that there is a certain amount of pressure to perform. 
Through your help desk you are likely to receive a mix of communications from your customers, which are likely to be fully dependent on the service or product that you offer. Speaking generally you are bound to get emails about customer problems, customer complaints and requests for more information. Hopefully you will also get the odd customer getting in touch just to say what a good job you are doing!
Stress when managing these support tickets from your customers builds up because of customer expectations, but there are ways that you can manage your help desk effectively, therefore managing the situations that arise more succinctly and consequently reducing your stress levels. 
Lets take a look at the three main types of help desk support ticket that you are likely to get, and see what you can be doing to reduce the stress of dealing with each:
1) Requests for More Information
By far the easiest of the the three types of ticket to deal with, and potentially the least stress producing. Firstly, if someone has taken the time to come to you and ask more about what you are doing, that is a great thing! You have engaged a potential customer. You should be easily able to answer such questions as you should be well versed in what the business does and what it has to offer.
If you find that you are getting similar requests all of the time then you can do one of two things. One, create a pre-formed response that can just be selected from within your help desk to answer the question. This saves you from arduously typing the same thing over and over again. Second, update your website to contain this information. If enough people couldn't find the information, but wanted to know about it before buying or signing up with you, it seems well worth adding to your sales site.
2) Customer Problems
Every business is going to have customers that run into problems, there is very little that we can do to alter that. However, what we can do is be attentive to customer problems and solve them as quickly as possible. The vast majority of stress that will come from this area of help desk support comes from a lack of communication; something that shouldn't happen on a help desk! 
If your customer comes to you with a problem, you shouldn't fix the problem and then respond to the request, especially if that takes time. The customer will become frustrated with the situation and probably contact you again to vent that frustration. Frustrated and irate customers = stressed help desk attendants. Instead, you should immediately acknowledge the issue with the customer and reassure them. Let them know that the problem is in hand if it is something that you have already been made aware of, or that you will look into the problem right away if it is brand new. You should let your customer know when they should expect to hear from you next, such as; I will update you on the situation within the next two hours. Whatever you tell your customer, you must then be able to act on it!
The harder part of reducing stress here is being able to resolve the customers problem. There can be all manner of problems that arise depending on your market, industry, product or customer base. Whatever problems do crop up, remain communicative and open with your customers about it. They'll appreciate your honesty, and they'll feel reassured if you stay in touch with them.
3) Customer Complaints
The tough one. These customers are already angry or disgruntled about something that you have done or haven't done, and usually they are the hardest customers to handle. There can be any number of reasons why a customer may complain, from their product not working to having not had a response to an earlier support request. From thinking they've been over-charged to having experienced down-time in the service you provide. 
First of all, you should be very quick to respond here, and do so in an agreeable manner. The earlier you try to deal with the situation, the more chance you have of a happy ending. Get to the heart of the customer complaint. If you have messed up somewhere along the line, apologise, and depending on just how bad you messed up, maybe offer some sort of peace offering - a month free, or an upgrade. If there has been a misunderstanding, carefully explain the situation to the customer and always be very courteous and choose your words carefully. Nothing makes a customer more angry than receiving an email back that says; "hey, you're wrong." So don't do it.
Just as when dealing with problems, be communicative and proactive in dealing with the situation. It might be easier to tuck that ticket away under some easier ones, but that complaint isn't going to go away. In fact, leaving it will only make things worse.
No matter what volume of support tickets you get, or what product or service you offer, you can reduce the amount of stress that is caused by your help desk. Stay in touch with your customers, answer support requests quick, and if you can't for any reason, try setting up an auto-responder that lets your customers know you are dealing with a high volume of requests and that you will be in touch as soon as possible. Communicating the situation is key.
If you can communicate well, both with your customers and within your team to rectify issues, you will find that managing your help desk will become much less like hard work, and more about providing the great customer service that you know you can.

Posted on November 11th 2010 at 12:52pm by Emma
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