Written by: Daniel Haurey on 10/31/23

We’ve discussed before that selecting the right managed IT services provider for your organization takes diligence. 

It is rarely the price of services that differentiates one MSP from another, but rather the processes, documentation and focus on customer experience. 

When evaluating potential service providers, one area you should explore in depth is fundamental to successful outsourced IT support: the help desk. 

Before signing any managed IT services agreement, you should fully understand how that MSP approaches IT help desk, from service level agreements to ticket resolution rates, and other IT help desk best practices.

Choose a Partner That Follows Every IT Help Desk Best Practice

Work with a dedicated support team committed to excellent customer service.

Learn More

Questions to Ask About IT Help Desk Best Practices

An IT help desk committed to customer service is built around several key pillars that collectively provide a positive experience for users while also delivering effective problem resolution. To understand your potential MSP partner’s approach, ask the following questions:

What Level of Technical Expertise Does the IT Help Desk Team Have?

It may seem obvious that the support team includes people with strong technical knowledge and expertise in networks, software, and hardware. 

However, some service providers may not be willing to invest in high-level engineers or those with extensive experience. Be sure the help desk staff has a range of certifications, experience, and any specialty focus that aligns with your needs.

Beyond expertise, the IT help desk team should be equipped with professional development plans that encourage continuous learning and training, much needed in an industry that evolves as quickly as technology. 

They should also be supported with training that enables them to approach complex and difficult situations with an open mind and a commitment to problem-solving, even when it takes more time than a quick fix. 

The ability to identify and resolve issues efficiently is at the core of help desk service.

How Does the IT Help Desk Communicate With Customers? 

Quick, clear, concise communication is essential when it comes to IT help desk best practices. IT support staff should be able to explain technical concepts in layperson terms and avoid jargon. 

They should also provide regular updates on issue resolution progress—including an initial response to confirm the support ticket has been received, an update on the priority established for the ticket and anticipated timeline for response, and, finally, confirmation the issue is resolved. 

Most MSPs leverage a client service portal to not only accept support tickets but also to provide updates. That portal offers customers a one-stop shop for questions, communications, and other resources, such as a knowledge base that can offer self-help guidance for simple problems.

Speaking of Timely, Ask About Service Level Agreements

IT service desk best practices are rooted in service level agreements, which define and establish clear expectations for ticket response times and resolution targets. 

That documentation typically covers the MSP’s process for setting priorities for IT help desk tickets, ensuring that customers understand what levels of priority exist and how those decisions are made. SLAs are key when it comes to aligning customer and service provider expectations.

Why is this documentation so important? When an IT issue is a high priority, it can impact an organization from its employees to its customers, wreaking havoc if not resolved promptly. 

Having the IT help desk processes captured in a way that clients fully understand what to expect is a crucial step in customer satisfaction. 

Most service organizations depend on help desk software that guides the help desk team through proven steps to resolve issues in a way that aligns with their documented SLAs.

Supporting those efforts should be a modern ticketing system that can handle all levels of support ticket volumes, as well as project management tools that streamline efforts by the IT help desk. 

An effective MSP IT help desk should maintain a comprehensive knowledge base and documentation system. This helps in quickly finding solutions to common issues and ensures consistency in support.

These documents often provide the framework for measuring success with an MSP, providing easily measured key performance indicators that can be reviewed during quarterly business reviews to ensure both sides of the partnership are in alignment. 

What Processes are in Place to Ensure Security and Compliance?

Every MSP should have protocols in place to protect customers, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) for submitting tickets or requesting support on a phone call. 

A potential IT help desk partner should be able to walk you through the steps their help desk staff follow in order to adhere to security best practices and compliance with data protection regulations. 

In light of recent cyber attacks that leverage loopholes in IT support processes to breach sophisticated cybersecurity systems, be sure to drill down with your potential MSP about each step in the security process. 

This is especially important when it comes to protecting your environment during remote sessions, as well as understanding how they ensure that they are working with real employees of your business. 

Another element of help desk support best practices is their ability to meet compliance requirements, such as backing up data regularly and securely, asset management and control, and adhering to clearly defined security protocols and policies.

Dependable IT Help Desk Services are Closer Than You Think

Other IT Help Desk Best Practices to Watch For

One element of an effective IT help desk can be challenging to measure, but it is equally important when evaluating an MSP’s IT help desk best practices. 

Service desk team members should not just be knowledgeable about technology. They should also show empathy toward users who may be frustrated or stressed due to technical issues. Patience is essential when providing effective customer support.

The IT help desk team should be friendly and responsive when interacting with users, keeping in mind that the customer requesting help is having a frustrating experience, and looking for help. 

Another element of this particular IT help desk best practice is training and educational resources that help end users avoid common issues and empower them to use technology effectively. 

As previously mentioned, many MSPs offer a knowledge base resource that helps customers with self-service, encouraging them to resolve simple issues on their own.

By upholding these pillars, an IT help desk can deliver excellent service that not only resolves technical issues but also fosters a positive relationship between IT and users, promoting user customer satisfaction and productivity.

IT Help Desk Best Practice Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation CriteriaDescription / Questions to Ask
Technical Expertise-Does the team have a range of certifications?
-Do they have specialty focuses that align with your needs?
Professional Development-Are there plans for continuous learning and training?-How do they handle complex problem-solving?
Communication-How are technical concepts explained to end users?-Is there a client service portal for updates?
Service Level Agreements (SLAs)-How are ticket response times defined?
-Are there clear expectations for ticket resolution?
Ticketing System and Documentation-Is there a modern ticketing system?-How comprehensive is the knowledge base?
Security and Compliance-Are there protocols like multifactor authentication?-How do they ensure data protection compliance?
Customer Interaction and Empathy-How does the team handle frustrated users?-Is there training to help users avoid common issues?

Interested in learning more about IT help desk services? Check out these blogs:

Work With a Partner That Follows IT Help Desk Practices

In this article, you’ve learned about some of the most common IT help desk best practices, along with some important questions to ask a potential help desk services provider. With this information in hand, you’ll be able to choose the best possible partner for your business.

Since 1997, Exigent Technologies has provided dependable IT help desk services designed for businesses like yours. With the help of our experienced technicians and advanced ticketing system, you’ll resolve technical issues faster and regain control of your workday.

Experience the benefits of having access to a help desk team that provides trustworthy support whenever you need it by partnering with us. For more information, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.