When the word “help” is in your team’s name…but your customers aren’t finding you all that helpful? That’s when you’ve got a big problem.
Customer dissatisfaction is an expensive and time-consuming predicament for IT help desks. The question is: How do you solve it?
The stakes may be higher than you think. Poor customer satisfaction can jeopardize not only your help desk’s future, but the company’s productivity and security.
If you want to see real improvement in your customer satisfaction scores, you must understand the Three Cs of IT help desk customer dissatisfaction—the Causes, Consequences and Cures.
The Causes of IT Help Desk Customer Dissatisfaction
The first thing you must appreciate about customer dissatisfaction is that there are causes, plural, rather than a single cause. Your customers and employees get impatient and irate with your help desk for all manner of reasons. Some of these reasons are related to technology, others to processes and still others to people.
Long wait times and other misdemeanors
The usual culprits, of course, are long wait times, being passed around to multiple agents, and having to describe an issue multiple times to different agents. These things can drive even the most patient customer absolutely bonkers, while also contributing to abysmal scores in KPIs like average wait times and first call resolution rates.
A large portion of customer satisfaction issues are caused by poor communication. For example, a Tier 1 agent passes a caller up to a Tier 2 agent without explaining why. Or an issue gets escalated up to multiple tiers of support over the space of a few days, gets lost in the dreaded Help Desk Black Hole, and the customer remains in the dark because not a single person calls to confirm if the issue was resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.
Unempowered help desk staff
Sometimes the issue that customers and employees want resolved requires a simple and quick fix, but for reasons beyond their control, Tier 1 advisers must escalate the issue to another tier. This is mainly because some organizations do not empower their help desk staff to resolve all issues. Tier 1 agents are not permitted to fix issues related to security and compliance, for example.
This infuriates customers and Tier 1 staff alike, because the issues are often quick and easy to fix. But what would be a three-minute fix instead requires another tier of support and a multiday delay for the customer.
One sad truth about customer satisfaction surveys is that plenty of companies conduct them but do nothing with their findings. Or they review surveys one at a time, and never step back to see if aggregated results paint a particular picture of the cause of dissatisfaction.
Another mistake that some companies make is treating bad reviews as one-off occurrences. Instead of taking the opportunity to examine the complaint fairly, they assume that the bad review was caused by an anomaly or an unusually difficult customer.
Lack of resources
Another common cause of customer dissatisfaction with IT help desks is lack of resources. Some companies simply lack the people or tools they need to deliver outstanding customer service. Perhaps the help desk lacks the staff to run three shifts a day, or to provide service on weekends. Or the help desk lacks the staff to review customer satisfaction surveys (and to act upon the findings to remedy shortcomings). In many cases, these weaknesses are not a sign of lack of will, but instead simply reflect the size and level of maturity of the help desk.
The Consequences of IT Help Desk Customer Dissatisfaction
If you have a problem with customer dissatisfaction, you are going to discover it one way or another. You may not have noticed the causes, but you will certainly notice the consequences.
A worker with a technical issue is an unproductive employee. And an employee with a technical issue that the help desk cannot fix quickly is an irritated, unproductive employee. This is one of the main reasons that help desks must monitor customer satisfaction—because it affects overall worker productivity. A company that has dissatisfied workers has more than just a problem with their help desk.
One predictable consequence of poor help desk customer service is shadow IT. Customers and employees just stop calling the help desk and instead look elsewhere for a fix for their issue. Shadow IT, of course, is what happens when customers use IT systems, software, applications, devices, and services without IT department approval.
They start using their personal phones for work, for example, using them to access company intranets and other corporate resources without a VPN or other safeguards. Or they start using a cloud service provider like AWS to host sensitive documents. Or they share files via mobile chat applications.
Naturally, shadow IT brings considerable risks because it typically requires employees to work around company security and privacy policies. No wonder Gartner predicts that around one-third of successful attacks against enterprises are on shadow IT resources.
High help desk staff turnover
If poor customer satisfaction is caused by a help desk that is understaffed or poorly equipped, one of the first symptoms is high turnover. No one likes working in an environment where they are overwhelmed with calls or not given the tools they need to do their jobs. So, they quit. And the help desk faces the cost of advertising for, screening, interviewing, onboarding and training a revolving door of employees…all while dealing with customers who have been made to wait even longer due to the staffing shortage.
The help desk gets fired
If your help desk delivers such poor customer service that the help desk begins to hinder business operations, one of you will have to go, and it won’t be the business. Customers and employees who grow sick and tired of poor help desk service will eventually mutiny, forcing management to take drastic action. They are either going to fire the majority of the help desk staff, or they are going to outsource part or all of the help desk function.
The Cures for IT Help Desk Customer Dissatisfaction
The consequences of help desk customer dissatisfaction are a strong incentive to steer things back in the right direction.
There isn’t an overnight fix, but the effort is worth it: A 2020 customer experience study conducted by Dimension Data/NTT revealed that after improving the customer experience, IT help desk professionals could evidence significant benefits such as improved employee experience (53.4% of respondents), increased customer loyalty (46.6%), increased revenue/profits (33.6%), and a reduction in costs (28.4%)
Here are the top six most effective (some easy, some more complex) cures for IT help desk customer dissatisfaction.
Improve your First Call Resolution Rate. If you want to eliminate the dissatisfaction that’s caused by customers being passed to multiple support tiers over the space of hours or days, start resolving more issues during the first call. No other KPI has a bigger impact on customer satisfaction than your First Call Resolution rate (FCR). Improve your FCR rate by training and empowering your Tier 1 agents to resolve the largest number of issues as possible.
Offer self-service options. If a large portion of your issues are about things that customers can resolve themselves (password resets, for example), give them the tools they need to do just that. Offer self-service options (such as chatbots) so that your customers and users can resolve their issues without calling your help desk. Create a robust library of articles and FAQs to boost self-service and reduce the number of tickets generated.
Set expectations. The root cause of poor communication is often unclear expectations. When customers and users don’t know what to expect, either during the call or after the call, they get upset and customer satisfaction suffers. Train your agents to set specific expectations early and often in the call so that callers have a realistic picture of how you are going to resolve their issue. This way, you don’t have agents saying, “You’ll hear back shortly,” potentially resulting in wildly inaccurate customer expectations. (Does “shortly” mean five minutes, an hour or two days?)
Follow up. A leading cause of customer dissatisfaction is lack of follow up. Keep the lines of communication open while you are working to resolve an issue. And remember, the longer the process takes, the more often you must communicate with your customer or user. Customers and users will endure delays as long as they are kept well-informed throughout the process.
Act upon customer feedback. If your customers and employees say your help desk service needs polish, do something about it. Prove to your callers that their feedback is valuable by reviewing their concerns and then acting to remedy them.
Outsource. If your customers and users are dissatisfied with your IT help desk because wait times are long or their issues don’t get resolved during the first call, one solution is for you to outsource part or all of your help desk function. An outsourced help desk provider acts as the first point of contact for your employees and customers when they need tech support. The provider manages their technical issues, resolves their problems, and escalates only the issues that you prefer to resolve in-house.
IT Help Desk Customer Dissatisfaction? Conquered
Improving customer satisfaction is all about measuring and managing. Your measure how satisfied your customers and employees are with your help desk, and then you take the necessary steps to improve your performance. The result? Happier customers and a happier help desk team.