Customer Service Challenges for Tech Support Help Desks

Customer Service Challenges  for Tech Support Help Desks

Article by Donna Earl

The technical support desk faces special challenges that differ from other customer service functions. From hiring, finding the right help desk training, to organizational challenges, the tech support manager has special concerns.

In the hiring process, most managers look for a high degree of technical aptitude. While a technical understanding is essential in delivering support to users, also important is the ability to communicate well and empathize with the customer’s situation. Thus the technical support representative’s level of emotional intelligence is critical to success.

Surveys have found that while managers might perceive the most sophisticated tech support rep as being the most valued by the customer, surveys find that IT support professionals who possess the highest level of empathy tend to win highest evaluations from customers. Their empathy drives them to find an answer and explanation for the customer and to focus on customer satisfaction. Technical aptitude alone will not ensure success as a tech rep. Aptitude and help desk training in both technical and specialized customer contact skills are requisites for a successful tech support desk.

In dealing with external customers, a lack of engineering support can create frustration. Often engineering is consumed with developing a new and improved product, rather than supporting the current version. This puts tech support in an awkward position of supporting a product that might have flaws or bugs, and yet not getting the level of cooperation needed from internal sources.

IT help desks are more likely to support internal customers rather than strictly external product users. In this role, tech support can frequently be taken for granted. Often the ‘internal customer’ becomes overly reliant on tech support. The internal customer might be less inclined to solve the problem independently, in favor of relying on tech support to resolve all problems. The tech support professional must have patience, resources, and coaching skills to encourage the customer to resolve problems independently.

These are some of the unique issues facing technical support. Whether dealing with internal customers, or external, the tech help desk needs a high level of people savvy, technical knowledge, and diplomacy.

Copyright © 2004 Donna Earl. All rights reserved.

This article is based on some of the material presented in the seminar Customer Service Skills for the Technical Professional.

Donna Earl, an international specialist in Customer Service, offers specialized technical help desk training. Donna can be contacted by phone at 415.929.8110 or by email at for permission to reprint these articles, or regarding her consulting and training services.