It’s always wise to look before you leap, but there does come a day when you just have to jump. If you’re thinking about expanding your help desk to provide 24-hour support, it’s probably because your resources already feel stretched pretty thin. If you want your company to succeed, sooner or later you’re going to have to add more help desk support.
But how can you be sure the time has arrived? What does a ‘round-the-clock help desk really entail? And is this the kind of thing you should build on your own, or should you consider outsourcing your help desk? Read on to learn more.
Signs You Need 24-Hour Help Desk Support
Most help desks begin by providing 9-to-5 coverage Monday through Friday. For many businesses, this kind of coverage is plenty at first, but gradually the need starts to shift.
It could be as simple as coverage hours extending later into the evening to support employees who work late. Or perhaps a traveling executive requests on-call support while they are working off-hours on business trips. As your business continues to grow, these small things can start to add up. If you’re not careful, it can leave your users feeling unsupported even as your help desk staff becomes overwhelmed and burned out.
Don’t let it get to that point. Instead, watch out for these common signs that you may need 24-hour help desk support:
- Your Business Is Booming — and Branching Out
Success will often bring growing pains, and that’s certainly true for your help desk. If your business is adding new branches, moving into a new overseas market, or employing new team members in different time zones, those changes will all put new demands on your help desk beyond their regular hours.
- Your On-Call Staff Is Exhausted
When you start to see a need for off-hours support, your first solution may be to have a regular team member be “on-call” overnight to provide coverage. As overnight calls become more frequent, however, your on-call staff are going to start showing up exhausted during regular hours. They’ll be less productive during the day and unable to keep up with the demand at night.
- No One Can Take a Day Off
Maybe you’ve already made your first foray into 24-hour help desk support, but you’re trying to get by without adding more staff. As a result, you’ve got one-person coverage on nights and weekends, leaving you in a potential pinch. What happens if that person gets sick? What if they take PTO? Just because you’ve technically got 24-hour coverage doesn’t mean you’re truly prepared for the ‘round-the-clock support your users need.
The Challenge of Staffing Internally for 24-Hour Help Desk Services
As we alluded to in that last bullet point, it can be tough to staff your internal help desk for 24-hour support. If you are expanding an existing help desk, you’ll probably need to add more people just to ensure there’s a single support agent available at all hours of the day.
Click to enlarge | Source: Global Help Desk Services, Inc.
As you can see from this example, those five people are going to be able to provide only the absolute bare minimum of support for your users. If someone is ill or takes a scheduled vacation, the rest of your team will be feeling the pinch. When it comes to staffing “If you only have one, then you really have none”.
Another risk of this type of minimal coverage is that it creates the kind of pressure on agents that fuels a high turnover rate. The problems only compound as you consider how to make up that coverage as well as how you’ll train a new hire to get up to speed.
Obviously, minimal coverage isn’t ideal. But even with twice as many agents, your help desk may not be prepared for call surges that result from software rollouts, new product launches, and other company changes. Instead of trying to build a 24-hour help desk yourself, it may be time to consider outsourcing your help desk as a solution.
How Outsourcing Can Provide the 24-Hour Help Desk Services Your Users Need
When your company needs 24-hour help desk support, outsourcing those services can be one of the most cost-effective ways to ensure your users get the assistance they need, whenever they need it.
First, your outsourced help desk service provider will conduct a discovery process to identify where your challenges lie. This phase will also help your provider determine how to integrate as seamlessly as possible with your company to offer user support. If there are any additional considerations — security or compliance concerns, for example — these will also be identified and taken into account.
Next, your provider will leverage their resources to provide 24-hour coverage that is responsive to the needs of your users. Rather than tasking a single agent to handle your company’s calls, you’ll have a whole team standing by to assist. That means a better experience for your users without you needing to hire a whole lot more headcount.
Outsourcing Your Help Desk Is Good for Your Whole IT Department
When your help desk is overwhelmed by support tickets, it can have a cascading effect on your entire IT department. Instead of focusing on the high-level strategic projects that you hired them for, your operations group may find themselves spending more and more time answering the phone and resolving tickets.
This can lead to bad experiences for everyone involved. Your IT team may end up so frustrated by answering phones that they leave to take a job elsewhere. In the meantime, your users get to experience this frustration first-hand when they speak to your burned-out employees.
Once these dominos start falling, they can be very difficult to stop as the pressures continue to mount. But by outsourcing your help desk services, you disrupt the cycle. You provide relief to your team and better support for your users — no matter what hour they’re calling.