Are you looking for proven ways to overcome your help desk challenges and reduce your IT help desk expenses without hurting worker productivity or company performance?
The good news is there are many strategic steps you can take that carry the potential not only for significant cost savings, but for improved output and overall value to your organization. They also help you in indirect (but equally significant) ways that aren’t directly reflected on your P&L.
Here are four of the most impactful changes you can implement into your IT help desk operations.
1. Maintain a Robust Knowledge Base
The less time your help desk agents spend resolving user issues (and the less often they have to escalate to higher-tier support), the more you save on IT help desk support. One of the most effective ways to resolve support issues quickly is with a robust knowledge base.
What do we mean by robust? A robust knowledge base should be:
- Up to date
- Easy to access
- Simple to use
You need a knowledge base because help desk agents, particularly at the Tier 1 level, spend a great deal of their time — and your budget — fielding the same types of calls to resolve the same issues. (Password reset, anyone?) The less time they must spend looking for the right answer, the faster they can resolve the call.
Additionally, a robust knowledge base can allow you to shift more types of calls to Tier 1 help desk support. After all, employee wages are a big part of IT budgets. It doesn’t make sense to have a Cisco engineer answering calls regarding basic PC problems. By shifting more resolutions from your Tier 2 or Tier 3 groups to the help desk, your cost per resolution goes down and you free up more time for your higher paid resources.
You can start by getting each resolver group to identify frequently asked questions that instead, could easily be documented in your knowledge base and handled and resolved by your Tier 1 help desk.
(If you don’t have the help desk staff, tools or expertise to pull this off, help desk outsourcing may be the way to go. We’ll speak more on this in a minute.)
2. Standardize Your Processes
Just like time is money, time wasted is money wasted. And if IT help desk agents are never quite sure where to look for information or how to resolve an issue, they’re going to waste a lot of time … through no fault of their own.
An excellent way to reduce your IT help desk costs is to standardize your processes. Standardize the format of your knowledge base, for starters. Standardize what you capture, when you capture it and where you store it. Standardize your navigation, site architecture and the keywords required to find knowledge quickly and easily.
Also standardize with runbooks and jump-off documents around a support team, piece of software, user group or location. Standardizing in this way works like a hub-and-spoke model of knowledge. You maintain a central hub of information for a support team, piece of software, business unit or location. From there, you provide ways for agents to jump off to solutions that are specifically for their challenge or support issue.
What you’re aiming for with standardization is to create and document proven, predictable, repeatable processes. Standardization reduces your help desk costs, improves customer satisfaction, increases your first-call resolution rates, and helps you onboard new agents more effectively — and sooner.
3. Embrace Reporting and Analytics
The best way to stay on top of your help desk budget is to manage your help desk KPIs. Before you cut anything from your budget, and before you increase a line item or add a new one, you must know your numbers. Every decision you make about where and how to reduce your help desk budget should be informed by empirical data.
To understand what's going on in your environment, embrace reporting and analytics. Run regular reports and regularly consult your dashboards to see what’s trending, what’s falling behind and what’s improving.
But it must go deeper than just looking at the numbers. You need to figure out what those numbers are telling you — and what you should do as a result.
So, analyze them. Dive into your ticket data. Crunch the numbers on what your agents have been doing. Analyze the amount of time they're taking to read through tickets and figure them out. Review how often agents have to go on site, determine if that work could have been done remotely, and so on.
Benchmarking is key
A vital part of reporting and analytics is benchmarking. You can easily and accurately assess improvements (or otherwise) in performance when you have an established benchmark to measure up against.
Also, pay attention to the people behind your tickets and see if there are patterns you can spot based on previous benchmarking. One great way to do this is to run reporting against your most frequent callers, filtering out IT people and the high-touch executives who submit requests all the time. Do you see any callers, for instance, who used to only submit one ticket a month, but are now submitting 10 tickets a month? Perhaps you need to replace their laptop, conduct additional training or take other steps to remedy this spike in support requests.
Fix the problem, and you’ve just saved your IT help desk a substantial chunk of time.
4. Outsource Your Help Desk
One proven way to lower your help desk expenses is to outsource all (or part) of your help desk function.
Outsourcing reduces your staffing and infrastructure costs because you require fewer IT staff and less equipment. This has the added benefit of translating into fewer hassles for you and lowering your overall cost-per-ticket.
Outsourcing your help desk eliminates the capital costs that you are used to seeing in your budget. The costs associated with purchasing and maintaining computers, servers, phone systems and other technology required to set up and grow your in-house help desk vanish or drop considerably when you outsource. You also eliminate the ongoing costs of hiring and training staff, processing data, and plenty more.
A global cosmetics company in need of seamless, expert support — in English and Spanish — shortened handle times and boosted customer satisfaction by switching to Global Help Desk Services, Inc.
The Hidden Savings Outsourcing Can Provide
All the benefits we listed above will make a difference to an IT department’s budget.
But there are additional cost savings to be had, depending on who you work with. If you decide to go the outsourcing route, take the time to find a help desk outsourcing partner that not only works with your budget, but also seeks out ways to make your processes as cost effective as possible. After all, affordability is only part of the picture: If the help desk outsourcing team you hire handles processes incorrectly, the whole idea of saving money is lost.
Lowering your costs is just one of the many challenges facing help desks. Discover the 10 most common help desk challenges. Or, if you’re ready to see how you can improve your help desk performance today through outsourcing, give us a call.