Top 11 IT Help Desk Best Practices

Providing quick, effective IT support to users is not just a ‘nice to have’ business function. Help desks that resolve issues fast have been shown to drive loyalty amongst customers and boost employee productivity.


The true measure of a help desk’s success isn’t just about closing tickets but in understanding and supporting the human and business needs expressed by every request. It’s about recognizing that behind every ‘system error’  is likely a person’s workflow interrupted or impeded, and a business need unmet – and that every support ticket is an opportunity to reduce user frustration and help the business run more efficiently.

George Terrone, Co-Founder of ITSco


So, whether you need to support a large internal team or simply answer customer queries, these 11 help desk best practices will help you establish effective (and efficient) support teams.


In a Nutshell: 11 IT Help Desk Best Practices


Best Practice

Brief Description

1 Hire Qualified Help Desk Professionals Employ knowledgeable technicians who love what they do and are able to handle IT issues quickly and courteously.
2 Identify Service Desk Software That Fits Your Needs Opt for user-friendly, multi-channel ticketing systems to facilitate effective service request handling.
3 Encourage Users to Provide Context Prompt users for detailed information to understand and resolve issues faster.
4 Document Issues and Solutions Create a comprehensive knowledge base for users and staff to streamline solutions for common issues.
5 Don’t Treat Your Help Desk as a Do-it-All Avoid overloading the team with diverse tasks; categorize help desks for specialized and efficient support.
6 Leverage AI for Known Minor/Recurring Issues Use AI-driven chatbots to handle recurring queries, saving time for more complex issues.
7 Set Clear Targets for Your Help Desk Establish service level agreements to define expected service standards and response times.
8 Incentivize Positive User Interactions Reward quality support and customer satisfaction over merely fast resolutions.
9 Promote Self-Service Implement user-friendly self-service portals to enable customers to resolve issues independently.
10 Monitor Help Desk Performance Monitor important metrics to track help desk performance and identify areas for improvement.
11 Gather Feedback From Users and Your Help Desk Collect and analyze user feedback to continually refine help desk operations and user satisfaction.


11 IT Help Desk Best Practices for a Growing Company


1. Hire Qualified Help Desk Professionals

Having knowledgeable technicians who can swiftly and courteously handle IT problems is the backbone of an efficient help desk. It’s a waste of time and resources when simple issues get escalated to senior engineers unnecessarily because first-level technicians don’t know how to fix them.

Finding skilled technicians can be a challenge, and retaining them even harder. Plus, salaries for qualified, experienced professionals can start at $60,000, putting pressure on your payroll.

Another option is to work with professional managed services providers (MSPs). They can take care of some of the help desk or IT support tasks, allowing more senior team members to focus on more complex IT projects.


2. Identify Service Desk Software That Fits Your Needs

Choose a ticketing system that’s specifically made for help desks. This type of software comes with the right features your team needs to handle service requests effectively.

While there are various help desk software options, prioritize those that are user-friendly, quick to set up, and offer a comprehensive set of tools to speed up problem-solving.

The keyword here: is omnichannel. Your software should allow users to reach you effortlessly via email, phone and chat. It should also ensure seamless interactions and escalations so as not to add to user frustration (eg: by having to relate an issue over and over again to different teams).


3. Encourage Users to Provide Context When Reaching Out

When people send vague help desk requests like, “Help! My computer isn’t working,” it’s hard to know what the actual problem is. These requests don’t provide much information.

Prompting users for more details with your requests allows your help desk staff to understand the problem faster. They spend less time guessing what’s wrong and more time fixing it. Clear information helps solve problems quickly, keeps everything running smoothly.


4. Document Issues and Solutions (Build a Knowledge Base)

A good knowledge base should include all the instructions, troubleshooting steps, and answers to frequent questions – and 91% of people say they’d be happy to use a knowledge base if it met their needs.

The knowledge base isn’t just for users, it’s for your team too. It’ll help create streamlined solutions for common issues (“My email’s not opening!”), instead of requiring your team to reinvent the wheel every time. When you are evaluating helpdesk systems, look for platforms that include integrated knowledge base systems if possible.


5. Don’t Treat Your Help Desk as a Do-it-All

Dealing with a variety of issues often poses a bigger challenge than handling a high volume of them. In complex setups involving extensive infrastructure, like networks of cables, hardware, and virtual machines, IT teams may find themselves stretched thin.

Initially, teams might juggle numerous tasks ranging from user account management and hardware support to maintaining office networks, updating software, tackling projects, and performing regular maintenance.

A key strategy is to avoid overloading a single team with too wide a range of diverse tasks. Categorizing IT help desks is a best practice to follow. It will allow teams to become experts in their areas and help you manage support tickets more efficiently.


6. Leverage AI to Resolve Known Minor/Recurring Issues

Chatbots can be a big help to a help desk team. They can suggest articles from the help center, encouraging users to find answers on their own and saving the team from dealing with the same questions over and over (up to 80% of support requests are for recurring issues).

Plus, chatbots are available all the time, so users can get help any time of the day or night. This means the help desk can handle more tickets and reduce how long people have to wait for answers.

AI-driven bots offer far more seamless customer experiences than chatbots of old. Just make sure to evaluate these systems thoroughly so as not to add to user frustration.


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7. Set Clear Targets for Your Help Desk

Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are contracts that explain the customer services your help desk will offer. They outline how quickly the help desk should respond to requests and how to measure its performance.

SLAs are like official promises between the help desk and its customers, clarifying what each side can expect. This helps avoid confusion and disagreements later on. They’re useful for setting clear goals and standards for outsourced and internal IT teams.


8. Incentivize Positive User Interactions (Not Hasty Resolutions)

From goal-setting to incentivizing. Focus on rewarding positive interactions with users, rather than just quickly closing tickets.

This approach values quality support and customer satisfaction over simply rushing to solve problems. By encouraging your help desk team to take the time to truly understand and solve user issues, you create a more supportive and effective service environment.

Moreover, if the issue is resolved satisfactorily, you’ll face fewer return callers too.


9. Promote Self-Service as Much as You Can

Research indicates that a significant majority (67%) of customers favor self-service options for support. However, the effectiveness of self-service hinges on its usefulness and user-friendliness.

Implementing an accessible self-service portal is a pivotal step in simplifying the support process for customers.

This portal, complemented by comprehensive knowledge bases (see above) and interactive Q&A communities, empowers customers to find the solutions they need quickly and efficiently.


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10. Carefully Monitor Help Desk Performance

Keeping an eye on your help desk’s metrics helps you understand how well it’s doing. These numbers show you what parts of the help desk could be better and let you easily track any improvements you make.

You can use measures like resolution times, how many problems are handled by the chatbot, how many are escalated to a human agent, customer satisfaction, and ‘cost per request’.


11. Gather Feedback From Users and Your Help Desk

Checking your help desk’s performance numbers is one way to find areas to improve. Another good approach is to ask for feedback from your users. Since the help desk is there to help them, it’s important to know if they think their issues are being solved properly.


Maximize Productivity and Efficiency With These IT Help Desk Best Practices

IT help desks are the front line of user experience. Effective solutions will get your team back to work quickly, and positive interactions will minimize frustration.


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