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Tip: Offer help desks to build customer loyalty

In this customer loyalty tip you'll find out how help desks are different from call centers and what skills help desk agents must have. Learn how help desk technologies can be used effectively to build customer loyalty.

The following is tip #2, Offer help desks to build customer loyalty, excerpted from Chapter 7 of the book Technology and Customer Service: Profitable Relationship Building, by Paul R. Timm, published by Prentice Hall Publishing.

What you'll learn in this chapter:

  • Help desks are a key component in the customer support mix.
  • Help desks are specialized call centers that may serve both internal and external customers.
  • Help desks rely on a multi-level support model to provide appropriate assistance.
  • Technology such as problem management systems, knowledge management systems, and remote support undergird modern help desks.
  • Automation, centralization, and outsourcing will shape tomorrow's help desk.

The role of help desks in customer support

Help desks are big business. According to IDC, a leading technology research firm, the market for outsourced technical support and help desk services was $13.1 billion at the end of 2001. By 2006, IDC expects the market to more than double, with revenues reaching $28.4 billion. To these figures should be added the value of in-house provided help desk services. In a recent InfoWorld survey, 90 percent of the respondents operated in-house help desks -- only 10 percent outsourced. Providing technical solutions for the computer weary has become a major part of customer service and support.


Additional information on help desks:

A help desk is the generic name for an end-user support center. Other common names for a help desk include customer support center, information center, information technology solutions center, resource center, and tech support. Regardless of the name, the purpose is the same: provide technical assistance to end users. What's an end user? This is how information technology professionals describe someone who is the "final" or "ultimate" user of a computer information system, rather than someone who develops the system. The end user works with the finished product after it has been fully developed and installed, rather than working with prototypes. The term "end user" often implies someone with little computer sophistication. Someone who is technically savvy is often categorized as a power user.

In the late 1970s, IBM coined the term "help desk" to refer to an in-house operation that screened incoming technical service request calls and routed them to the appropriate customer engineer. From that narrow focus, help desks have evolved to become a single point of contact for providing technical customer care. Today's help desk is an integral part of the customer support mix. In addition to answering technical questions, help desk staff may conduct training sessions, install new hardware and software, manage network access and availability, perform user satisfaction surveys, and participate in software product improvement. Modern help desks are proactive, anticipating end-user problems and identifying ways to prevent such problems from happening in the first place.

Download the entire chapter for more information on building customer loyalty. This chapter includes application activities to evaluate your help desk and customer loyalty building potential.

Building customer loyalty: Four tips in four minutes

 Home: Introduction
 Tip 1: Use effective call centers to build customer loyalty
 Tip 2: Offer help desks to build customer loyalty
 Tip 3: Apply the power of CRM to build customer loyalty
 Tip 4: Design Web sites that build customer loyalty


Technology and Customer Service: Profitable Relationship Building These chapter excerpts from Technology and Customer Service: Profitable Relationship Building, by Paul R. Timm, are used by permission from Prentice Hall Publishing.

Purchase the book here



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