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The True Value of an IT Help Desk

How a help desk works and what to look for in an effective IT support provider.

There's nothing better than relying on a helping hand when you need it most, and the same goes for depending on an IT help desk when your business faces road-blocking technology issues. While your company may excel in providing certain services, troubleshooting IT tasks while maintaining your infrastructure can overwhelm in-house teams. For businesses with few or no IT personnel, employees are often left to fend for themselves and work through computer or network issues.

With an IT help desk, tech headaches that cause downtime and lost productivity can be a thing of the past. Certain variations of help desks, including those from a managed service provider (MSP), can go a step further by defending your data from bad actors and boosting efficiency for your employees and customers. Learn how different IT help desks work and the benefits of partnering with an MSP help desk.

What is an IT help desk?

An IT help desk is like a technology fairy godmother for businesses that need additional IT support. Its team, often composed of engineers specializing in different fields and organized in varying formats, responds to assistance requests related to hardware, software, and other IT-related issues. Entry-level technicians often solve simple problems, and additional tiers of expertise get involved in more complex challenges.

An essential factor to understand is that traditional IT help desks assist clients as issues emerge. While many businesses seeking support from a help desk provider desire a proactive approach, standard help desks take a reactive approach. Brian Schlechter, Director of IT at Bit-Wizards, says the difference between the perception and reality of a help desk is critical to recognize before partnering with a provider.

"IT support from a help desk seems comprehensive, but a typical help desk offers assistance with IT issues when a client asks for it," he explains. "You won't get holistic solutions that support your big-picture, long-term goals from a help desk alone."

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How does an IT help desk work?

While they can have varying models, IT help desks are most commonly structured in a tiered support system. In a tiered help desk, teams with varying expertise assist clients based on the nature and urgency of their requests. The first interaction, commonly called the "first touch," involves a team dedicated to answering help desk requests for IT support. Any subsequent interactions with a client go to specific groups specializing in on-site services, remote assistance, server and network configuration and maintenance, and other focuses.

Unfortunately for clients and technicians, more complicated problems often require a second or third touch when a help desk team member sends the request to a specific team. While having a technical resource at the first touch can be beneficial, Schlechter believes it can lead to confusion and excessive involvement. Even though first-touch resolution is possible, it's not guaranteed. If it takes multiple touches to resolve an issue, the client can feel frustration before getting a solution.

With Managed IT Services (MITS) from Bit-Wizards, our team operates in a slightly different format. Instead of a technical resource at the receiving end of a request, clients work with someone on our triage team that mirrors one in an emergency room. Each member is familiar with each MITS engineer's skills, meaning they can direct each client's issue to whoever is available and capable of assisting. While there will always be a second touch for our clients, our engineers will better understand each person's concerns and execute solutions more efficiently.

What are some IT help desk alternatives?

While an IT help desk can be acquired as a standalone service from a provider, other options expand what a help desk includes. One such alternative is an IT service desk, which adds self-service options and resources that populate when a client goes to submit a ticket. These self-help options can be helpful, but Schlechter warns of potential issues due to service desk errors or misinterpretations.

"Self-service options are a less personable way of providing assistance, and there's always a chance that the information is written or understood incorrectly," he says. "We've all googled something and found incorrect answers, and a service desk article can be the same way."

One of the more popular and effective help desk variations that Schlechter recommends is a managed IT help desk from an MSP. With a managed IT help desk, clients receive proactive efforts from their MSP that exceed traditionally reactive IT support from a help desk. In addition to fixing issues as they arise, managed IT helps businesses plan for the future by assessing their current performance and goals.

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What should I look for in a managed IT help desk?

If you want a comprehensive IT solution that includes proactive and reactive support, a managed IT help desk is the best option for your business. Choosing the right MSP can be daunting, especially considering the various service offerings and experience levels they offer. Here are three traits to look for in a managed IT help desk that can indicate a beneficial partnership for your business, employees, and customers.

1. Rapid responsiveness

When any component of your IT infrastructure stops working, every minute it takes to get up and running again costs your business. It's critical to look for an MSP whose team quickly responds to help desk tickets. Additionally, a managed IT help desk should work effectively with each client and request to ensure everyone's time is used efficiently. Jenni Taylor, MITS Service Manager at Bit-Wizards, highlights how our help desk offers rapid, proficient IT support.

"In addition to sending a triage response to any tickets within 15 minutes, we ensure multiple tickets submitted by the same end-user go to the same engineer on our team," she says. "We're committed to providing efficient support, so we reassure each person by recognizing their issue promptly and saving them the inconvenience of working with multiple engineers simultaneously."

A vital component of an MSP's responsiveness depends on the team's ability to be reached. If a help desk receives your ticket but doesn't send a quick confirmation or follow-up, you're stuck until someone reaches you. Many IT help desks offer a single point of contact, usually an email or online ticket system, which can bottleneck incoming requests or leave clients stranded. LXS Fregger, Client Success Manager at Bit-Wizards, points out an option for our clients that standard help desks lack.

"We have multiple ways for clients to contact our help desk, with the most unique and beneficial option being a phone number that directly connects to our triage team," she says. "We actively encourage our clients to call us so they can speak to someone directly and get help when they need it the most, and that's a major benefit differentiating our help desk from others."

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2. Proactive approaches

Even though an MSP's help desk is meant to take a proactive approach to your business's IT infrastructure and goals, that attitude doesn't always extend to day-to-day assistance. Managed IT help desks can resemble traditional help desks in responding to tickets and considering the tasks done. When considering your options, look for an MSP help desk that consistently applies its approach. Fregger compares the difference between someone taking orders and going above and beyond to describe the benefit of managed IT help desks over typical options.

"Your everyday help desk will work to find solutions but often stops there once the order they get from a client is completed," she says. "A managed IT help desk will have a can-do attitude and check if you need anything else because they want to do more than what's asked."

Outside of being consistently proactive with your company's IT, an effective managed IT help desk should go above and beyond to ensure you avoid prevalent issues. Many help desk teams focus on incoming requests without seeing the bigger picture of how one client's issues can affect others. If you can find an MSP with a track record or guarantee of proactive preparation, your business can leverage that partnership to focus on operations and feel reassured. Taylor illustrates how she and Fregger collaborate to protect our clients with their proactive efforts.

"Phishing emails happen frequently and are often sent to entire teams or several organizations, so we keep an eye on trending issues that our clients experience," she says. "Our team notifies LXS so she can reach out to our clients, inform them of the common problem, and advise them on how to keep their IT protected."

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3. Consistent CSAT scores

When making a big purchase like a new printer for your office, you likely research each option's success with other customers by looking through reviews. In your search for an MSP that offers a help desk, customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores are similar to reviews in that they provide a glimpse of their track record with current clients. In addition to viewing online reviews, client testimonials, and other resources, check an MSP's score if it's available through programs like SmileBack, a CSAT reporting tool available exclusively for MSPs. Fregger mentions the importance of viewing these scores with an understanding of the industry's benchmark and a grain of salt.

"While it's essential to understand that MSP CSAT scores can range from 60% to 70% with a 20% response rate, you should still look for providers with higher scores and many reviews," she says. "Our website displays our exceptional CSAT score and total review count from the past 90 days so that potential clients can see our results and the range of feedback."

While gaining an understanding of an MSP's beneficial relationships with its other clients, Taylor states that it's essential to consider your company's needs and how your potential partnership will benefit your team and customers. A collaboration between a business and its managed IT provider works both ways in that each party needs to understand the other's needs to make the relationship successful. The partnership needs to be a good fit on both sides, and an MSP that benefits some types of companies may not do the same for other businesses in the same or different industries.

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The magic of the Bit-Wizards managed IT help desk

When good IT support can make or break your business, you need a help desk with people you can depend on. With Bit-Wizards, our team makes magic for our clients through our managed IT and help desk services. We know our clients are excellent in what they do, and we contribute to their excellence by taking ownership of their challenges and successes. Whether you're preparing for holiday remote work or worrying about common cyberattacks, we guarantee you'll talk with a real person who wants to exceed your team's expectations and needs.

Ready to connect your business to IT support with a human touch? Contact us today.

Author

Natalie Ewing, Content Writer
Natalie C. Ewing

Content Writer