Archive for February, 2012

Ring, Ring!! ReduceThose Frustrating(ly Needless) Help Desk Calls

February 13, 2012 2 comments is proud to present our favorite guest blogger and general editorial contributor — Donna Earl. Donna’s blog today discusses how to reduce needless or unwanted calls to the help desk.  Mitigating non essential help desk calls — via self service or other means — benefits everyone, and makes the help desk and agents unquestionably more effective.


Hi again everyone. I’m Donna Earl, aka “the Help Desk Coach”! Working on the help desk is a job for problem solvers. The best help desk agents are born and hardwired to solve real problems. However, most complain about having to solve simple and routine problems end users could very easily solve themselves.

Some of the Donna Earl - The Help Desk Coachmost frustrating and repetitive calls are from end users who could have quickly solved their own problem if they simply took the time to check the basics – connections, plugs…start button! Help desk agents (sometimes grudgingly) have to ask what seem like dumbly insulting questions to their end users. “Is your machine turned on?” “Is your laptop plugged in?” “Is your network cable in?” And of course most users will respond they have checked all connections…even if they have not. The more tactful agents have learned some variation of “let’s do it one more time while I’m on the phone. I have to ask you to re-check all connections again because it’s my job.”

Of course, end users can annoy help desk agents by not at least trying to re-boot and solve the issue on their own before calling in. Sometimes the agent will know in advance if the user hasn’t re-booted. To this, the more patient agent will repeat some variation of “let’s re-boot one more time while I’m on the phone to see what happens.”

Given the self-service capabilities of today’s modern help desk software, agents are unanimously annoyed when users do not avail themselves of self help tools. Rather, certain users will prefer waving that ‘big red flag’ and calling into the service desk versus turning to their iPhone for that latest self-serve support app the IT folks recently provided everyone. To this, there are some users who have become totally dependent on the help desk, and feel it’s simply too much trouble to utilize self help.

For all of these frustrating calls to the help desk, the effective agent will avoid becoming angry at and antagonizing the end user. This response results in nothing less than a black eye for the agent, and earns the help desk a reputation for arrogance and unhelpfulness. Rather, the best service staff will take the time – in fact, make the time – to engage with the end user, empathize with their problem, and work emphatically to solve the problem. The best technicians will close out the call by providing the user with a quick overview of the ‘self help’ process, and why self service benefits the end user. Not only does this benefit the reputation and effectiveness of the help desk, it also stands a better chance of creating a learning experience for the end user.

In closing, I worked with a help desk once that changed the recorded message their users heard while in queue. The message reminded users to re-check all connections, re-boot twice (!) and browse self help while waiting in queue. This particular help desk also worked to mitigate the avalanche of frantic end users calls in instances of unexpected network downtime – a feat by any means. Simply, the outgoing service desk message would be immediately updated to alerts callers to the downtime situation.  This prevented the queue from being inundated with calls that, at end of day, couldn’t be serviced and would only detract the help desk from effectively addressing the real problems. Simple solutions like this can go a long, long way to easing end user frustration AND stopping those annoying calls that ultimately can’t be serviced!

With a little forethought, care and effort, reducing redundant and needless calls is possible. What are the repetitive and annoying calls which haunt you and your help desk? How can they be proactively reduced or prevented? Let me know, and I’d be glad to write about it!

In my related article, “Migrating End Users to Self Help,” I address motivating the different types of users to use self help tools.

©Donna Earl 2012

Help Desk Coach Donna Earl has been interviewed for numerous publications, including

>> Visit Donna’s ‘Help Desk Coach’ Consulting Site

>> Visit

Categories: Best Practices
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