Believe it or not, a question comes up every now and then - can I get away with not having a help desk app?
What the person usually means is, “how about we just handle emails or phone calls as they come in and avoid putting any sort of formal ticketing system in place?”
Sure, you could do that. Many companies have. But for the most part, those companies have become studies in why that is NOT a great idea. There are several “dangers” that go along with not having a formal help desk - here’s what you need to be aware of:
This is a relatively common scenario, especially in smaller companies or startups. “Well, Jo is there to handle all the customer service queries and can manage that from her inbox.” The problem is that Jo easily becomes the bottleneck.
Now, we’re assuming that Jo prefers not to be at work all day every day of the week. Heck, she’d probably like to take some time off, perhaps use some of her vacation days. Now what’s going to happen with those service emails?
“Oh, we’ll have her emails forwarded,” you say” Great, but how will you be sure that customer requests have all been managed? How will you know someone has taken responsibility for it and how will you check any background details from previous interactions? How will Jo know when she returns from vacation which requests are done, which are in-process and which haven’t been looked at yet?
The danger of not having that ticketing software in this case is that you don’t have a reliable way to check that customer requests have been resolved satisfactorily. You could even be in a situation where your “one-man-band” creates a bottleneck because they simply must be there for some questions to get answered.
Holy accountability, Batman! Not having a ticketing system is GREAT when you’d rather avoid taking responsibility for an issue. After all, Jo will probably see this and it looks like the sort of thing she’d take care of…
Except that this is also a great way to avoid anyone taking responsibility and to seriously annoy customers or users. What ends up happening is Jo thought you’d take care of it, so the net result is no one did.
This is never ideal when you’re trying to build a successful company! You need your help desk on-board and accountable for actioning customer or user requests. You can have the hottest new product or service on earth, but your business will quickly die if you don’t provide high quality service with it.
It’s only natural that we sometimes look at difficult things, go “ugh!” and immediately put them on the backburner. And hey, if there are plenty of easier things to be doing, it’s not a leap to work on those first. After all, you’re still working, right?
The problem with this in a customer or user support world is that those difficult requests might stay on the back burner. The customer who submitted the request might wait a very long time to get any sort of answer, if they get one at all – because you know, “someone else will take care of it.”
In short, your priorities can end up backward. A proper ticketing system has the advantage of offering a way to triage tickets so that they can be put in true priority. Without it, you risk a pile up of “hard ones” because it’s just easier to move onto other requests first.
Hey look, no help desk software! This may not end well when the hard stuff gets pushed back...
How much do you love it when you’re contacting a company for the fifth time and it goes down just like the first time? You’re always brand new to them, as though there’s no history of requests being made before. You find yourself explaining what happened last time, and the time before that, again, and again…
As for the person dealing with your request, they’re just winging it. They don’t have any prior information in front of them so they’re going to take a stab at it as though it’s all brand new. You’re loving it, right? Right, we thought you weren’t…
An important thing that a proper ticketing system gives you is the user history. They DON’T want to repeat themselves every time - it’s a waste of their time and yours. Not only that, if it’s a similar problem, you shouldn’t be winging it, or trying to reinvent the wheel every time. Ticketing history gives you the answers from before that hopefully, you may be able to use again, or at least use to inform your next answer.
This is a close cousin to “someone else will take care of it” and “just do all the easy ones first.” When you don’t have a formal help desk and it’s just someone checking on emails, you also usually lack an escalation process for those issues that no one knows what to do with.
In some of the worst examples we’ve seen, issues end up getting bounced from one person to the next, sometimes for days, even weeks. The customer doesn’t care that you don’t know what to do with their issue, they just want to know that it’ll be taken care of within a reasonable timeframe!
Speaking of timeframe, no help desk software means you probably don’t have automated messaging to set expectations with customers. If you want to avoid unnecessary complaints, setting expectations, like informing them of timeframes, is important. Ticketing software will at least send an automated message letting the user know their ticket was received and that they can expect to hear back within a certain timeframe.
How’s your help function going? “We’re doing great! Look at us, solving issues and stuff.” Yes, but how quickly are you solving them? What do your customers think? How long does it take for customers to hear from you once they’ve sent in their query? Are you fully resolving all issues?
You don’t know, do you? Because without a ticketing system you’re also without key metrics that will tell you how well you’re doing. Maybe you’re doing great, or maybe you’re lagging far behind what typical help desk metrics should be. Not having them is a fairly effective way to get away with putting your head in the sand…
Hey, bonus! There are some extra dangers that can go along with not having a help desk. Here are some of the greats:
Just get the help desk. Really. It doesn’t matter what size your business is, you can benefit from having a reliable, trackable, proactive system in place.
If you’re a one--person operation, a ticketing system helps to keep you honest and to help you keep track of past dealings with the user. If you happen to be that person in a workplace service role, the one who everyone comes to in-person to ask for help, having a formal system can put some kind of order and expectations around it!
For support functions of any other size, it just makes sense. Importantly, you can measure how you’re doing which gives you the opportunity to manage it better. So get the help desk software!
Alex has founded Jitbit in 2005 and is a software engineer passionate about customer support.