Updated Jan 18 2021 :: by Katie Joll

The help desk is a hub for many activities.

Primarily, it’s about providing excellent service or support to customers and users. However there’s another worthy cause your help desk is in a prime position to assist with: gathering insights that can help make improvements within the company.

In fact, you could say that doing so is optimizing how you use help desk resources. Actionable insights could make a huge difference and help your company to take a proactive stance.

Here’s how you can gather these important insights via the help desk:

Download our ideas for gathering useful feedback here

Data vs. actionable insights

You gather a lot of data via your help desk - most companies do. In fact, many are gathering such huge amounts that the real nuggets of information - those that can be used to derive positive action - get lost among the weeds.

Actionable insights are a step up from mere data (read more on how to get actionable insights). Raw data is meaningless without context. Actionable insights are the detailed points that give your organization a clear path forward. They help you to make meaningful changes to policies, procedures or products based on reliable information.

How can you gather meaningful insights via the help desk? Here are some ways:

Look for patterns between support conversations and wider KPIs

What KPIs are most important in your company? Customer churn? Monthly sign-ups? Net promoter score? Customer retention rate? These metrics can be viewed in a whole new light if you can correlate them with issues being handled by the support desk.

For example, did a new rollout lead to an influx of tickets from confused users? Was there a noticeable impact on customer churn around that time? Or, if customers were calling in and tweeting about a bug, did that have an impact on the number of monthly sign-ups?

Further, you can look at these snapshots in time and see if there are any other significant metrics that played a role. What if the first response time of the help desk was delayed? What if fewer tickets were resolved within SLA or at first contact?

You can start to find areas where you might be able to plan or take action in the future. For example, do you need to make sure more agents are rostered when there’s a product update? Is there something agents can do to help reduce churn at these times?

Listen to your customers

Hey, we’re not going to say “the customer is always right” (spoiler: they’re not), but a verifiable quorum of customers making a similar comment might be. There’s “feedback,” where perhaps a customer was having a bad day and just unleashed in the moment, then there are actionable insights – the nuggets of information that can make a real difference.

Your customers are your VIPs. They’re the reason your business exists, so it’s absolutely worth gathering help desk feedback into meaningful insights and looking for patterns. If many people say the new update sucks, maybe it does! Or, maybe there’s a need to send out better information that helps customers make sense of any changes.

Some companies opt to use NLP (natural language processing) that helps to dive deeper into sentiment, especially across larger volumes of tickets. Rather than basic sentiment analysis, it can analyze more of the context of what they’re really saying. Jitbit Helpdesk also allows you to ask customers for feedback directly upon closing a ticket.

Analyze customer segments

You can gather more specific, actionable insights by looking more closely at customer segments. There are a lot of ways to segment customers (or even users within an organization), so it’s worth considering which will give you more reliable insights.

For example, here are some potential segments:

  • Prospects. Customers on a free trial or on your list and making enquiries to figure out if they want to buy.
  • Customers by user tier or status. For example, if you are a software company, you probably have different subscription levels.
  • Stage of the customer journey (new users, users of one year + etc.)
  • Customers by industry type. Different industries have their own unique needs.
  • Customer’s professional position. How much influence do they have in their organization? Could a word from them sever the relationship?
  • Type of user in the organization. If you are an internal help desk, the type of user, or their position in the organization might reveal key insights.

If you analyze by segments you can start to find insights that are specific to that group of people. If it’s a significant customer or user group, it might be worth making changes that suit them, for example. You might find that some are more prone to churn than others, or that some really appreciate a certain mode of communication or feature in your products.

Look closely at ticket volume patterns

When do you get high volumes, or valleys in your ticket numbers? Your help desk works directly with customers, but how are events outside of the help desk impacting on their work? Understanding this can be very important for improving your processes to meet customer demand.

Here’s an example: let’s say you make an update to a policy or procedure, then find that you get large volumes of tickets requesting information. Is it because that information isn’t readily available to them? Is it hard to find or non-existent? This would tell you that you need to improve your process for creating documentation relevant to any changes. Maybe you need a solution such as a checklist for producing clear documentation prior to a change.

Analyze customer reviews

Do you administer reviews through your help desk? Reading customer reviews can provide you with all sorts of actionable insights, especially if you have the resources to really analyze them and look for patterns.

It’s important to look at all sources of customer feedback, including your social media channels. Look at any trends that crop up - are they leading you toward actions you can take to improve?

Text analysis tools, social listening tools and others, such as NLP or AI-based solutions, can help you to do a deep dive where there is too much data for humans to wade through it all thoroughly. At the very least, you could categorize reviews using an analytical tool and have someone read them more thoroughly for insights.

Remember, it’s not just about looking for things you need to change, but finding what you’re doing right, too. You wouldn’t want to “fix” something that isn’t broken and that people actually enjoy about your product or service.

Don’t miss any insights…

Once you’ve gathered your insights, how will you ensure that the right actions are taken? It’s important to have a system for organizing feedback, ideas and data-based knowledge so that it is clear, easy to find and actionable.

Many companies gather large volumes of data but never do anything about it. Taking action to apply what you’ve learned can become a competitive advantage. We suggest a system of prioritizing actions based on the goals of the company and the resources that you have available. For example, something might be lower priority but only take five minutes to implement - you might want to take care of low-hanging fruit first.

We have another tool for prioritizing ideas which is a feature of JitBit: an ideas forum. You can use this to have customers or users suggest ideas and have others vote on them. This way you get a very good idea of what is important to your users because they’re directly telling you.

Free download: Ideas for gathering useful feedback

Final thoughts

Your help desk takes on several roles, but one that can deliver a lot of value to your organization is gathering actionable insights. Set up systems to look for patterns, feedback and quality information that can be used to make improvements.

A lot of data comes through the help desk but many organizations miss the opportunities that can offer. Make good use of the information you have and optimize your business approach.


'How to Get Actionable Insights Through Your Help Desk' was written by Katie Joll
Katie Joll
Katie is our writer who specializes in technology and travel. When she's not writing, you'll probably find her on a trail, taking photos.


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