Hire the Best for Your Help Desk

Article by Donna Earl

Hiring and retaining top quality help desk agents is a challenge. All help desk managers want agents who will deal effectively with customers and thrive in the job. Help desk positions require a special combination of attention to detail and effective communication skills. Among agents who are ill-suited for the job, “burn out” and lack of training create high turn-over. Most organizations have a help desk or contact center to answer inquiries and resolve problems for external and/or internal customers. Finding customer-focused, competent agents for your help desk requires time, persistence, and ingenuity.

  • Think creatively to recruit help desk candidates.
    • Offer a bonus to employees who refer eligible candidates.
    • Contact community colleges, four-year colleges and universities. Communications and broadcasting students have vocal and communication skills training.
    • Contact agencies that place physically challenged workers. Often they have already trained candidates in telemarketing/telephone service skills.
    • Contact organizations which promote older workers, part-time or job share working arrangements.
    • To recruit technical reps, ask your star technical agents to recommend other technical reps who have good interpersonal skills.
    • Either take a technical class and recruit, or ask one of your agents who might be attending a class to recruit classmates.
    • Attending trade shows and sessions at conferences can be a good strategy for recruiting in your industry.
  • Interview the candidates extensively by phone. If your customer’s impression of your organization depends on help desk employees’ phone skills, allow the candidate to first impress you with his or her telephone skills.
  • Help desk personnel have 100% turnover per year. Keep recruiting, even when you have an employee for every phone. Some employers find that older workers, part-time and job share employees, and physically challenged candidates change jobs less frequently.
  • Train thoroughly. I constantly remind clients that technical and product training is essential. Changing an employee’s basic temperament is impossible. Hire the behavior you want, train the skill.
  • Call the help desk yourself and monitor employee responses, phone etiquette, and effectiveness. Would you want to do business with your own help desk?
  • Provide continual feedback, motivation, and support for help desk employees. They perform the “emotional work” of handling customer frustration before dealing with customer questions and problems.

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