10 Things You Must Do Before Switching Help Desk Platforms

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As technology changes so does the ability to track customers and customer calls.  There are several ways to prepare before switching help desk software.  I was working at a tax software support center that decided to change their help desk software in the middle of tax season.  

The whole process was miss-managed and caused increased call volume at a time when call volume was already at critical levels.  The lack of planning and preparation of upper management’s decision made life harder for the front-line call takers and added to the customer’s level of frustration as well.  The tangible impact was lower customer service satisfaction scores and decreased renewal rates. There are ways to prevent this from happening.

1.     Organize your transition team.

It is important to have members who represent every level of usage on this team. Too many times upper management puts together a team and completely leaves out the input of the end users. and how the decisions will impact the ability to do their job.  Ensure that each member (even the end users) have the freedom and authority to contribute. This is not the time to surround yourself with “yes” people.  For a transition to be smooth and successful, then all needs and contingencies need to be addressed.  Look over call volumes, and schedule the transition to happen at a time when most of your departments have some sort of lull.  In some cases, a tiered transition may work best. 


2.     Do you need to link your phone and account system with your help desk? 

When a client calls in, do they key in their account number, or phone number. If so, then some help desk software can link with your phone system and when the call is routed to the help desk, then it will bring up the client’s account. 


3.     Do you need to track past calls from a client’s account? 

Do you have regular clients that call in, or are you an open call system?  If your clients subscribe to a service, a database to keep track of those clients, what products they use and the ability to look back at their call history can benefit your call center and allow your team to provide more personalize service to these clients.  


4.     Do you need to migrate information from the tickets to Knowledge Base articles? 

Sometimes calls reveal product issues that have a consistent fix.  Do your staff members have a way to flag the tickets that need more research or even have a knowledge base article posted.


5.     Do the KB articles need to be internal or external, or a combination of both?

I was working with a program that was running on a rather intricate SQL based database. Occasionally there would be data integrity issues would require fixing several of the tables.  This fix needed to be done by a trained database professional, so the instructional articles created for those issues were not available for the general customers. The instructions they got was “Call Support, Ref….” 


6.     Do you need to be able to customize the fields for your ticking system?

No two firms need to collect the same information from clients.  What information do your techs and support staff need from the clients to be able to adequately do their jobs?  Will clients be able to open new tickets from your website for self-help options?  Do you record tickets created by chats differently than you do ones created through inbound phone calls?


7.     Do you need your staff to be able to access the software from any location?

Several years ago, a call center I was working in lost all their phone and internet thanks to a road construction mishap in front of the building. The Construction crew failed to respect the markings for the buried phone, power, and internet cables.  So, 500 employees were sitting in the dark with no phones and no computers.  Corporate scrambled to get our phones re-routed to other locations, but we had specialized departments that were not available anywhere else.  Some of the employees got creative and used tablets as hotspots to hook up laptops to the internet, access the phone system, and redirect phone lines to call cell phones.  For six hours, we had 20 people out of 500 able to take calls, while the city, phone and power companies scrambled to get our area reconnected.  After that experience, it became obvious we needed to switch to a SaaS based help desk.  One year later the great ice storm hit.  Nobody could get out of their housed, but this time it didn’t matter.  Senior techs booted up their computers at home and logged in on time and everything was up and running as if the weather outside was not raining ice Armageddon all over us.  Nobody wants to have to deal with crisis that takes the system down, but crises happen. It is better to be over-prepared than under.

8.     Who is going to test your new help desk?  

Once you decide on the help desk, it is advisable to roll it out to a small test group, preferably one with the most senior call takers.  The front-line workers know their job and what they need to be able to work more efficiently.  Once this pilot team has worked out the kinks, then you are ready to train the rest of your staff on the new help desk software.

9.     Plan the time of your transition and Train your staff in a timely fashion!

A smooth transition partially depends on your staff’s ability to easily maneuver through the new software.  Training needs to happen in less than a month of their transition.  Once training is completed, then allow the staff to have access to the program to ensure smooth installation, compatibility, and a chance to have a hands-on familiarity with it before they go live.  


10.  What are the plans for your past ticketing system and all the knowledge it contains?

Not all teams involved in handling the process of changing help desk are aware of the importance of ticket history.  This is the hardest part of switching help desk software.  The first switch I went through, very few people knew the old ticketing system was only going to be available for research for three months.  I had the lucky happenstance to be in the elevator with a teammate when we overheard the conversation about the process of taking down the old system and when those processes were going to start.  We both went to our supervisors and expressed our concern.  We were part of a team that was supporting a grandfathered, and somewhat obsolete program that still had a few straggling users.  Our entire team was completely dependent on the ticket history to be able to trouble shoot for those programs.   Armed with this knowledge our team managers started pulling ticket history, and in some cases printing out old tickets. Jump forward three months and you could hear the complaints echo through departments who lost years of historical knowledge, only a small number of departments were pro-active enough to pull old tickets before they were lost.  


While every transition will have some kinks to work out.  Planning the process can make a help desk transition smooth.


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