Survey Says Help Desk Is a Must-Have

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Help desk software lets you automate the management of your IT support, customer support, and IT assets. And it’s moving beyond its nice-to-have status and fast becoming a must-have application for companies of all sizes. That’s what my company, ManageEngine, discovered in a recent user survey — and that discovery means different things to different people. We’ll look at the survey revelations and ramifications below, but here’s the key takeaway: Put the right help desk in place, and you will reap substantial rewards in productivity and end-user satisfaction.

Sure, that takeaway might not sound surprising, especially when it comes from a vendor of help desk software, which we are. But here’s the thing. Help desk rewards continue to elude a lot of people.

Some still use email and spreadsheets to manage their end users’ support requests. And others took the plunge and adopted a help desk app only to regret the decision and wish they were still using email and spreadsheets. Why? Because their help desk software creates a big pain in the butt — usually because the software is bulky and bloated, requires extensive customization and results in rigid processes that reduce productivity.

Both groups are missing out on the benefits that the right, purpose-built help desk software confers. And when they don’t see those benefits, they don’t see the necessity of help desk software. Well, if you find yourself in either camp — or just generally dissatisfied with your current help desk solution — our survey results will open your eyes. The rewards are out there.

Numbers Reveal Help Desk Necessity

For context, the survey was conducted among organizations that deployed our help desk software, ServiceDesk Plus Standard Edition after we made it completely free in March 2014. The Standard Edition includes ITIL incident and knowledge management, and it has no restrictions on the number of technicians, tickets or users — all of which makes it appealing to a lot of first-time users as well as users looking to switch to a more suitable solution.

Now let’s see what the survey respondents reported:

• 98 percent improved help desk productivity and attained incident management maturity
• 95 percent saw a significant increase in end-user satisfaction levels
• 71 percent were able to measure performance by identifying and tracking key metrics
• 47 percent implemented a help desk software solution for the first time ever
• 39 percent implemented a knowledge base for the first time ever
• 20 percent use help desk software beyond IT in other departments such as HR, travel, and maintenance and facilities

Those are all phenomenal numbers, especially the improvements in help desk productivity (98 percent) and end-user satisfaction (95 percent). Email and spreadsheets will only take you so far. To take productivity and satisfaction to the next level, you need a true help desk that has the self-service portal, service level agreement management, help desk reports and related features to enhance work flows and business processes.

Just as promising is the finding that 71 percent of the respondents are positioned for additional performance gains by virtue of their ability to identify and track key metrics. Simply put, being able to measure their performance better enables them to improve it over time.

In one of the survey’s more striking findings, 47 percent of the respondents reported that they adopted IT help desk software for the first time. When you consider the relative maturity of the help desk market, this result reveals that there’s still a lot of unmet demand from people who have yet to invest in a help desk app.

Clearly, though, users don’t want just any solution. After all, vendors have been offering free versions of their help desks for years, yet we still have this huge demand. No, users want the right solution, and that usually means the right mix of features, usability and cost.

More than one in three respondents (39 percent) implemented a knowledge base for the first time ever. This is a perfect example of opening users’ eyes to help desk advantages that they previously didn’t know. A knowledge base is pivotal to productivity and satisfaction gains because it establishes a repository of solutions that can be accessed instantly by users and help desk technicians alike.

Finally, 20 percent of the survey respondents reported that they use help desk software beyond the IT department to handle the support duties in other departments such as HR, travel, and maintenance and facilities. We believe this is the future of the help desk, which will expand beyond IT to centralize the management of services provided to any department. In any given department, the help desk will automate, track, measure, monitor, alert and/or report on tasks and activities that were previously done by hand, by a patchwork of general purpose apps (think email and spreadsheets) or by purpose-built apps that are data silos.

If you’ve been waiting to roll out a dedicated help desk, now would be a good time to make your move. The help desk has become a must-have, and you’ve got more options and more opportunities than ever before. Adopt the right help desk, and your business, your help desk techs and your end users will all thank you.

Raj Sabhlok
Raj Sabhlok is the president of ManageEngine and Zoho.com, both divisions of Zoho Corp. Raj has particular interest in IT management software and its power to change the fortunes of a business when implemented effectively. Prior to Zoho, Raj spent nearly 20 years working with some of the world's most innovative technology companies including Embarcadero Technologies, BMC Software and The Santa Cruz Operation (SCO). Raj has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an MBA from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

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