Help Desk Training
How Customer Service Skills Deliver Productivity and Profit
Article by Donna Earl
The temptation in scheduling training for help desks, especially technical help desks, is to place all emphasis on technical skills and either ignore training in customer contact skills, or delay it until we have a budget for it.
Unfortunately while this might equip help desk agents with the technical skills they need, the fact that they will be dealing with people (customers) is overlooked. How well the help desk agents communicate with customers determines the customer satisfaction rating of the interaction, and directly impacts the customer friendly reputation of the help desk.
Help Desk Training must include a focus on customer service skills. Without these skills, calls will take longer, help desk professionals will experience more stress and burn out, and the frustrated customer will take much longer to hear the solution to the problem and feel less satisfied by the interaction.
Help Desk managers are under increasing pressure to justify the existence of customer support for either internal or external customers. Many organizations are tempted to outsource this function, citing economic factors. The effectiveness and efficiency of the customer support desk can be dramatically improved through ‘soft skills’ or customer contact skills training, especially if this training is targeted to technical agents.
In a class for customer service managers, a participant named Travis represented the technical help desk for a major telecommunications company. He had been sent to the class to learn how to force his customer support engineers cut off their conversations with customers. In Travis’ words, his engineers were needed to stop answering the ‘sensous’ questions posed by customers requesting tech support. When asked to clarify what that meant, Travis explained. “My engineers are so conscientious. When they’ve provided the level of technical support covered by the customer’s contract, and the customer says ‘since you’s on the phone anyway, I have another question. . .’ my engineers are too nice to cut them off.” Thus his help desk was providing a higher level of service (at greater expense to the organization) than customers had purchased.
The engineers needed some guidelines for politely, but clearly communicating what they could provide, while still pleasing the customer. This was accomplished during a help desk training seminar. Travis also informed sales department of the excellent customer service levels his help desk had been providing, and gave sales data to renegotiate customer contracts.
Customer Service skills training for help desks also helps tech support professionals calm down the frustrated customer more quickly. Agents learn skills to help the agitated customer explain the problem more clearly, and quickly assess the customer’s level of technical expertise. Help desk training also shortens call duration, as the skilled agent moves the customer more quickly from frustration to resolution. Customer satisfaction ratings improve, as the customer perceives the tech support to be offered in a customer friendly and effective manner. Help desk training in customer service helps technical professionals demonstrate their technical skills by using excellent customer contact skills.
Copyright © 2004 Donna Earl. All rights reserved.We have developed an on-site seminar geared specifically for help desks. Customer Service Skills for the Technical Professional addresses the issues and customer interactions handled by technical help desks.
Donna Earl is an international specialist in Customer Service, Management Skills and Emotional Intelligence. Donna can be contacted by phone at 415.929.8110 or by email at email@DonnaEarlTraining.com for permission to reprint these articles, or regarding her consulting and training services.