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Help Desk Training

Does your help desk solve calls fast enough?

I am a help desk consultant, specializing in finding ways of improving the effectiveness of how you solve computer problems in your company, and ways of reducing the number of computer problems in the first place.  

Software has gotten so complex, often any change to your computer seem to mess up at least one other thing. Clearly, help desks across the country are swamped. Manufacturer's help desks don't seem to understand the complexity of your setups. Many people you could bring onto your help desk can't diagnose problems very well.

Most computer technicians have little formal training in problem solving.

How do technicians at most companies try to find out what is wrong with a computer?

  • Superficial: "Did you try rebooting," or "Let's reinstall and hope that fixes it."
  • Water Cooler: "Do any of you know about _____," and everyone discusses what it might be. You can tell the client that everyone on the help desk is involved in "solving" it!
  • Internet Nerd: "I'll check the 'hidden super undocumented tips and tricks that solve everything' Web page, they'll have it for sure." He'll be gone for hours... 
  • Error and Trial: "You get which error? O.K., let's try (something). Oh, that didn't work? Then let's try (something else). That gives a new error? Well, let's try (something different)." Client's think they're incompetent!
  • Bulldozer: "What we need to do is reinstall your operating system, and then reinstall your applications, so we're working from a clean setup." Most computer technicians lack the discipline, and the customer service attitude, to ensure that everything, from the user's point of view, is reinstalled the way it was. Do yours?

While none of these methods is really used effectively in most offices, the people who check the Internet or other resources know the value of recording what works; training them to record their successful techniques so others can use them will make a big improvement. And people using the Bulldozer method have one crucial advantage over those using the other methods: They at least understand that there are ways to set up a computer to work reliably.

Clearly, we need to make our PC support teams more effective at keeping everyone else productive.

How would a scientist solve problems even more complex than PCs have? How many of your PC support people keep detailed lab notebooks? Can you imagine what the airline industry would be like if they had the same lousy diagnosis and repair techniques as the software industry? If aircraft were diagnosed and "fixed" as poorly as computer software is, you would have traveled to California by covered wagon!

There are ways to improve your help desk.

  • Track the calls you get and the solutions. Since most of your calls are about just a few programs, the better you keep track of the solutions and the diagnostic techniques that were successfully used, the quicker you can get your employees working again.
  • Improve your ability to solve future calls. Get everyone more training in how to diagnose computer problems, both for your most-used software, and for the occasional problems that drive you and your customers nuts!
  • Increase how reliably software is set up in your company, and how well repairs are made.
  • Track down the source of the most common problems, to prevent them before they occur.

I will teach your staff at least three effective diagnostic techniques from other disciplines, that most computer help desk people never use. I will work with your staff to teach the benefits of reuse so that every month your ability to solve calls improves.

I will show the benefits of a reliability mindset, in terms of increasing your company's productivity and net income, increasing your customer's satisfaction with your help desk, and also increasing the personal satisfaction of your help desk members.

I will work with your help desk members to have them invent solutions to reliability issues that exist in your environment.

Best Techniques from a Variety of Approaches

I can recommend what works best for your company size, culture, and desired level of service, including:

Styles of Support

  • Large nationwide company, with calls routed among 50 technicians in 5 groups, supporting a huge variety of software. They desperately needed more technicians to handle all the calls.
  • Separate help desk for each 300-400 people from a few departments. All calls went to voice mail, with all technicians solving calls at clients' desks. The clients were quite happy, since the technicians were at their desks enough to know their systems very well.
  • All calls for the entire 50-person company handled very successfully by two people.

Company Size

  • Medium sized business with stable environment, easy to keep everything running very smoothly.
  • Large business with Windows 3.1, 95, NT3.51, NT4, and every networking client for each of those.

Amount of Quality Control

  • Great attention to quality, to thorough work, and to satisfying clients.
  • Stressed out, little attention to quality, since the attitude was "we're too understaffed to do more than try to catch up somehow..." Each computer seemingly was set up differently -- only the email program was standard! Clearly, chaos reigned...

Amount of Computerization

  • Support Magic, Remedy, or other advanced help desk management system, with the capability of keeping track of all progress made towards solving calls, and of developing a detailed knowledge base of how calls have been solved.
  • A minimal database in Lotus Notes for keeping track of calls, and a place for installation instructions and fixes to common problems.
  • Simple paper systems that still kept track of problems called in, and all changes to the LAN and software. Worked because all staff were trained with excellent quality-control attitudes.

Why do I recommend top help desk packages?

  • You easily keep all your solutions organized and accessible.
  • Your clients will appreciate your having all their information stored, so you don't have to keep asking them.
  • You can determine what departments and software are having the most problems, and assign your best technicians to getting their problems fixed and applying those fixes throughout the company.
  • Full hardware and software inventory tracking, important for every company.  

I have extensive experience in training companies to use their software to effectively keep track of calls and solutions. I recommend customizations to work with your company's style, and to track the information you need as easily as possible. 

I have worked with companies to discover clear ways of reducing the thousands of dollars that each 100 calls to the Help Desk was costing their effectiveness! Would decreasing those costs by just 5% or 10% every quarter, or every month, make a difference? 

I make working together as simple as possible:

  • No mystery about the project. I will provide clear project schedules so you know what to expect, and frequent progress reports.
  • I always give quick notification of any problems that might occur, or that I see could happen.
  • I know help desk software thoroughly, having customized, trained, and been the administrator for Support Magic and Remedy on a large active help desks.
  • My background in database development means I know how to minimize the risk of problems affecting your database, and how to recover fast from any problems that might occur.
  • I know what changes can be made safely through SQL queries. More importantly, I know what is dangerous to do except using the standard utilities. Your data is safe with me, and when I'm done training your staff, it will be safe with them, too.

Every way that can be found to reduce the number of problems your employees have with their computers, and reduce the hours that these problems affect productivity, can have an enormous impact on the bottom line of your company.  

I know the importance of cost-justifying all work done in your company. If we don't agree, after discussing my ideas, that I can improve your bottom line by at least five times what I charge, then we shouldn't work together. But I predict a bigger improvement than that! 

If you want to:

  • improve the effectiveness of your help desk,
  • help everyone in your company be more productive when using their computers,
  • increase the bottom line of your company by dramatically reducing the computer problems so other employees can get more work done

then you owe it to yourself and your company to talk with me about ways of addressing these problems better in your company. 

Please contact me to discuss how I can improve your help desk.