Over the past several years, most IT help desk operations have expanded from simple phone answering to a plethora of alternatives for taking service tickets, resolving issues, communicating with users, and establishing a rapport with customers. During this evolution, help desks have added features like chat sessions, email help, and self-service portals or service desk catalogs where users can select and obtain the services they need. Now, the industry is ready for the next step: the social help desk. What are the benefits? What are the potential pitfalls? Is this a viable alternative for your help desk operations?
Why Users Prefer Social IT Help
There are several key reasons why users turn to Facebook or Twitter for IT help instead of calling, emailing, or initiating a chat session with the help desk. First and foremost, users feel the need for speed. Why wait three minutes for an agent (or half an hour for an email response) when the answer is just a Facebook post or Tweet away? Some users just don’t want to “bother” IT, or might be embarrassed to admit they don’t know how to save a document as a .PDF.
Other users are just so used to social media interactions that they turn there for everything — what to cook for dinner, how to get to the new cinema plex, and what to do when their computer crashes. Then there are your sneaky users (the ones who keep downloading Evernote despite repeated warnings that IT has their own file sharing solution) who will do most anything just to skirt the system. These users pop on social media in lieu of contacting your help desk, no matter how many convenient options you offer for doing so.
The Benefits of Social to the Help Desk
But it isn’t all bad. There are lots of advantages to your tech folks, too, not just the users. Obviously, every user who gets their answers without contacting the help desk relieves the burden on your staff, who is likely trying to complete various projects and stick within budget and could use the break. But it’s also a unique opportunity to get greater transparency of your users, which is meaningful to the entire IT department.
For instance, with a social media help desk platform, you can build a knowledge base that is complete (or darn near complete) with all of the various known issues along with solutions and viable work-arounds. There are likely some creative solutions lurking in the backwaters of your user base that have been hidden from the help desk, who could use it the most.
Additionally, when everyone is on your social media platform telling all of their “solutions” and “work-arounds,” it gives you the opportunity to catch and correct misunderstandings and misinformation that tends to cause problems in your systems and network. The guys who are opting out of updating the antivirus software and the ones who skirt the rules for downloading outside apps? Yeah, you can find those fellows.
Social media gives your IT department a candid look at your users, their problems, their goals, gaps in your services, and solutions you never thought of. In other words, your IT staff can begin to build a real relationship with your users and/or customer base, which provides transparency and accountability.
How to Regulate Social IT Help
What does it take to establish a successful social help desk?
- Use your own social media platform, or create a page for your workers. However, also scan users’ social media pages for stuff that’s slipping outside your own realm.
- Use good software asset management to identify and eliminate shadow IT so that your knowledge base includes products and services endorsed by the company and approved by IT.
- Carefully scan the social media posts to identify issues to be addressed. Respond to unhappy users, identify and correct misinformation, and clarify misunderstandings as they arise.
- Build a knowledge base from the information gleaned from the social platform.
- Give it time. The successful social help desk isn’t built overnight. Allow it to mature and develop and accept some bumps along the way.
A social help desk could be just the thing to round out your complete ITSM solution.