Customers today expect highly personalised service. If they call you on your service phone line, they expect the customer support agent to know who they are, what they purchased, and all their other previous interactions with your brand. Customers expect you to have context at the start of your interaction. That’s why many fast-growing companies invest in customer support help desks.
A support help desk provides a way for businesses to organise customer communications so they can respond to issues quickly and efficiently. With a service desk, customer support agents have a “Single Customer View” where all the records regarding one customer are in one place. It makes it easier for agents to resolve a ticket, provide a higher standard of service, and, ultimately, retain happy, loyal customers.
Now, there are heaps of fantastic help desk platforms on the market to choose from. For many companies, the decision to use one platform over another is often based on convenience. They choose the help desk that’s easiest for them to set up, without fully utilising its other powerful features or exploring other alternatives that may be a better fit.
At Boldr, we’ve helped several companies set up, maintain, and even migrate their process to a new service desk. Our experience has given us a more in-depth perspective on using help desks and making them work for your business. In this article, we’ll share the most important lessons we’ve learned about choosing and managing help desks for better customer support.
Help Desk Management: 5 Tips to Increase the Efficiency of Your Service Team
1. Pick a Help Desk that is dedicated to your platform
While it may be tempting to choose the first service desk platform that comes up in your search, it’s crucial to find the best solution that suits your needs. It’s easier to adapt the help desk to your customer support process than it is to adjust your process to the help desk.
For example, let’s say you are an eCommerce business on Shopify. Your best bet is to use Gorgias, a help desk that’s made explicitly for Shopify (and Magento)-based businesses. Because it connects to your eCommerce platform so seamlessly, support agents can immediately see the customer's order history and update them directly without needing to switch back and forth between tabs. The ability to see all relevant information in one screen is crucial to resolving tickets faster. The quicker your support agent goes through their queue, the more productive they will be.
Client Highlight: Urth
Urth, formerly known as Gobe, is an Australia-based startup that makes premium camera accessories for creators who care about the environment. They were transitioning their business from Magento to Shopify. They needed a help desk that can integrate well with Shopify and their social media platforms. Ultimately, Urth decided to use Gorgias because it seamlessly integrates with Shopify and other apps. It gave them the ability to check tracking, duplicate orders, create new orders, refund and cancel orders without leaving a ticket. It made life so much easier for their team! Boldr facilitated the migration of Urth's data to the Shopify platform. Moreover, we helped them increase productivity by setting up a new infrastructure for support request management, developing canned responses, and creating report dashboards.
“We decided to bring on Boldr at the same time as the change [to a new eCommerce platform] which sounds crazy. But it meant we could all learn the new system together and save double training. The switch to Shopify took a lot longer than anticipated. The Boldr team has been super supportive during the transitional period, where new systems were non-existent and needed to be built. They have a great supportive team with the Team Captains and Advocates who can handle the day-to-day heavy lifting. With the Implementations and Training teams supporting behind the scenes, we’ve been able to continue building out new platforms and learn together.”
~ Poppi Kuropatoff, Team Lead for Customer Experience at Urth
2. Pick a Help Desk that plays well with other tools you use
The most common reason our clients switch to another help desk is that their current service desk doesn’t integrate well with other platforms they use. An eCommerce business, for instance, needs to connect their help desk to an invoicing platform, an inventory management platform, and the like. Now, every help desk can integrate with other platforms. What makes them different is the level of complexity and customization they can provide. One best practice is to take stock of all the tools you use, identify which tools require a more complex set up and find a help desk that integrates well with your current process.
Zendesk is a great help desk tool if your business has many platforms that need to interact with each other. We’ve found that it works marvelously across industries. For SaaS businesses, we recommend Intercom. The platform is excellent at synchronizing contacts and leads for the convenience of sales, marketing, and support teams.
3. Unify all your support channels into one
Help Desk Platform
Most small businesses start with one or two support channels. Typically, they begin with an email management platform like Gmail and a call centre software like Aircall. This set-up is pretty manageable until they hit a tipping point. As their business and customer base grows, not only do the volume of support tickets increase but the channels also expand (e.g. adding a chat platform and social media support channels). In this scenario, what you want to do is find an omnichannel customer support platform.
Having separate platforms for each channel means your customer interactions data is fragmented. When a customer contacts a support agent on your phone line then later follows up via email, you want the support agent handling emails to know about the previous interaction immediately. If your support channels aren’t connected, there’s going to be a lot of back and forth between your support teams, and that wastes time. When you can unify your support channels into one help desk, this can improve the agent and customer experience drastically. Moreover, you can save money by investing in one catch-all solution rather than paying for separate channels.
Kustomer and Freshdesk are great platforms for omnichannel service desks.
Advice on choosing between different help desks:
Take a look at your current support workflow and find a help desk that best fits it. Even though some help desks are more popular than others, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be the best fit for your business and support team. Take the time to investigate all your options. Ask yourself, “Will this help desk platform be useful to my business and to my customer support team in the next 3 years?”
We recently helped a client who had multiple channels for their eCommerce customer support. They had one platform for email, one for phone calls, and another platform to track order records. They were paying for each platform separately. Then, their business quickly grew. With only one agent doing most of the tasks, this proved to be an inefficient, time-consuming, and expensive set up. So, they decided to unify these channels and streamline the process by moving to Zendesk. Boldr worked with them to migrate all their data and set up their help desk. Now, it works perfectly with their support workflow.
4. Map out your Support Workflow and Audit the Framework for your Help Desk
Improving the productivity of your support process involves assessing your current help desk set up and identifying the platform features that can optimise your overall system. It starts with mapping the entire support workflow from ticket receipt to resolution. Then, looking for ways to cut down the process and maximise the powerful features in your service desk.
When we audit our clients’ support workflow, we base our framework on the four stages of the customer support lifecycle:
- Customer Touch Points - This stage assesses the various points where the customer can reach out to the support team (i.e. email, phone, chat, Etc.)
- Support Workflows and Automations - This stage evaluates the effectiveness of the help desk automation and backend workflows which deflect, route, or triage the customer’s concern after it has been received via their preferred touchpoint.
- Ticket Management & Resolution - This stage examines how efficiently the agent inbox has been set up. Once a ticket is routed to the inbox, we ask questions like: Where does the ticket go? Who takes ownership? What measures are in place to ensure tickets are handled promptly?
- Reporting - This stage reviews the reporting capabilities of the current help desk setup.
In each stage of the life cycle, we evaluate if the CRM or help desk features have been implemented, utilised, or optimised. From there, we provide our recommendations for improvement. Here’s an example of a Support Workflow assessment:
Ticket Management & Resolution
|Current Set up||Opportunities for Improvement|
“What makes Boldr’s audit process for help desk and technology implementations unique is our tailored approach. Most companies have their help desk set up by the Onboarding Manager from the help desk platform they choose. This person can facilitate the setup process and get basic features configured. When you outsource customer support with Boldr, we learn all your support processes first and gain an intimate understanding of your workflow. Because of this advantage, we can implement basic and advanced features that make the most sense for your business. Our recommendations are based on what best fits your team and process.”
~ Chatty Varona, Implementations Manager at Boldr
5. Let automation do the bulk of the work by meticulously tagging your data
You can gain many insights from the powerful reports available in your help desk. But it won’t be useful if you have unorganised data -- data that is inaccurate and incomplete. Let’s say you find yourself being inundated with refund requests. You want to know what’s the main driver of the request. Is it because of a damaged product? Which product? Is it because it was delayed in shipping? Perhaps it’s caused by unsatisfactory service?
To answer these questions, you should be able to look at your data and segment it by “reason for refund”. This is where a proper tagging system comes into play. Tags are a great way to define your data so you can later organise it into something meaningful. Tags should be exhaustive and mutually exclusive. We recommend automating it as much as possible. When a customer fills out a form on your support page, for instance, you can ask them to choose the reason for requesting a refund. This way, when the agent receives the ticket, the basis for a refund is already pre-filled with a tag. All they need to do is review the concern and confirm that the tag is accurate. The agent can also add more relevant tags as appropriate.
When you know what is driving the bottlenecks in your business, you can take action quickly. In this case, pulling out the damaged product line from your inventory or changing your logistics provider.
Client Highlight: Coassemble
Coassemble is an Australia-based startup that offers an all-in-one eLearning training platform. To gain better visibility on customer data, they decided to double down on tracking tags in their help desk platform. Boldr helped them flesh out and make the most out of conversation tags so they can find out about the most common issues customers were experiencing. Moreover, Coassemble was also able to pinpoint specific features in their platform that most customers ask about or are interested in. By understanding their data, they’re better able to plan for feature releases in the future.
“What delighted us the most [about outsourcing with Boldr] was the people on the ground, our flex team members. They are well-trained, professional, and friendly. The other thing that surprised us was the amount of process documentation they have created for us. Essentially, rather than just "doing the job," they are creating long-term documentation and processes. This makes it easier for our business and our partnership to grow and develop. Their approach always elevates the quality of our processes and is much appreciated and valued.”
~ Dimity Redcliffe, Head of Operations at Coassemble
Outsourcing Help Desk Management
Setting up your help desk correctly and making sure that it’s regularly optimised is crucial to running a productive customer support team. When you outsource help desk setup and maintenance, you can be confident that it is configured in a way that fits your existing process. Beyond the technical aspect, an expert team is also there to contextualise the help desk system to your process. What this means is, as your outsourced team becomes more intimate with your business, they’ll be able to identify areas for improvement, recommend solutions, and execute efficiently. Not only will you be able to improve customer support productivity, you’ll also upgrade the agent and customer experience to a whole new level.
At Boldr, we’re experts at customer support. Learn how you can set up and optimise your Help Desk with us. Leave us a message below!