Dec 28 2009
For those of you who’ve had the (mis)fortune of working in a corporate environment, the persona of Nick Burns may have an eerie familiarity to it. Nick Burns, as you may know, was the “annoying help desk guy” played by Jimmy Fallon on Saturday Night Live. He was socially awkward, patronizing, poorly-dressed, and very, very weird. And the character resonated with so many people because of its underlying truth: the pervasive un-helpfulness of help desk staff. Most of us can relate.
But what if businesses – particularly small businesses – could implement a simple, scalable Web application to make the Nick Burnses of the world obsolete? That’d be bad for the economy (I guess) but good for our mental health, right? Then check out h2desk help desk software, a tool that allows administrators to answer support tickets using predefined replies and access a self-service knowledge base to manage help desk tasks.
The tool provides two main sets of functionality. The first allows users to Manage Support tasks, where they can:
- Convert support emails to tickets instantly with h2desk’s help desk software
- Keep track of customer issues threaded form
- Reply with a predefined message for every frequently raised issue
- Reply directly from your email
The second allows users to Create a Knowledge Base where they can:
- Easily generate searchable knowledebase articles
- Provide self-service client support portal
- Create tutorials, manuals, troubleshooters and more
- Support Sidebar on their website
Further, the tool is highly customizable; all aspects of the look and feel of h2desk can be modified to fit the look and feel of your own application, with easy to use templates. With this as an introduction, I took a free tour.
The Tour was simply and effectively laid out, providing thumbnail shots of key screens, including the staff home and support tickets page, the support sidebar, customizable customer support portal, and the iphone app, along with descriptions. Next, I decided to go deeper. After reviewing the help desk pricing options, I selected a 30-day free trial. I chose the Help Desk Service – Medium package. This trial supports 10 employees and allows for the submission of unlimited tickets.
I instantly received an email taking me to an administrator log in page. I signed in. My dashboard appeared – nice and clean and easy to manage.
As you can see on the thumbnail, there are 8 areas above, each with their own icon. I went through all eight – here’s how it went down.
1. Knowledge Base – “Find an answer to your question.” I clicked on it and got a file entitled “My first KB article.” It seemed like a dummy article, as there was no content there. This, I surmised, is where administrators such as myself uploaded FAQs and other related documents.
2. Troubleshooter – “Step by step help.” Again, administrator-uploaded content.
3. New Ticket – “Submit a new ticket.” This is where users submit their ticket. So, assuming I was someone else, I submitted a sample ticket. It was easy. I entered my sample name, email, message priority (low, medium, high), subject, and message. Upon hitting “Enter” I received this notification: “Your ticket has been successfully created. An email has been sent to your address with the ticket information. If you would like to view this ticket now you can do so. DF5E78.”
I checked the sample e-mail, and lo and behold, I received a message that my ticket had been created. That said, I wasn’t sure if I – the administrator – also received a ticket (I didn’t.)
4. My Tickets – “View your current help desk tickets.” It says, “Please enter your email address and ticket ID below to access your ticket. If you do not know your ticket ID, leave it blank and a list of all of your tickets will be sent to your email address.” I entered my sample ticket e-mail address from above, checked the account, and lo and behold, received an email.
Note: On the bottom-left of this page is a Navigation drop-down box, enabling me to jump to any of these 8 sub-pages. It’s on all the eight pages, in fact, which is a nice touch.
5. Tutorials and Manuals – “Explore our tutorials and manuals.” Also blank; however, I was told it was “an example manual,” and “change me.” So, I assumed, like with “Knowledge Base” above, this content would be added at some later point.
6. File Library – “Browse available downloads” – empty, to be populated.
7. News – “Recent news from our company” – empty, to be populated.
8. Links – “Useful links we’d like to share.” Links back to h2desk’s home page.
Lastly, I also explored the Support options, clicking on h2desk and “Support.” There were a bunch of support topics; I clicked on “Missing Tickets.” The information was in-depth and helpful. Perhaps more usefully, I clicked on the “Tutorials” option and was given an expansive list of selections. You can also click “Quick Support,” enabling you to send an e-mail directly to h2desk.
Having gone through the trial, I did have a few suggestions for future iterations, from a neophyte’s point of view; let it be noted that I believe the first two can be incorporated in the help desk tour portion of the site:
- I was initially confused about workflow; namely, what happens on the back-end, say, when a help desk ticket is submitted. Does the administrator get alerted? What are his/her duties once that occurs?
- I would insert more “dummy” content in the Knowledge Base, simply to provide trial users with a more realistic experience. Or, during the trial, insert some language like “Administrator adds content here.”
- The client list is extremely impressive. It would be useful to include a few case studies, to show how these companies implemented the tool in the real world. Better yet, try and include some success metrics: reduced response times, ability to meet service level agreements, and improved end-user satisfaction, plus quotes from happy clients.
To this user, h2desk’s layout was intuitive, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to use. As companies – including the dozens of clients listed on h2desk’s site – continue to migrate core functions to the Web, I highly recommend h2desk’s scalable, robust, and user-friendly tool. And to all the annoying help desk guys of the world – you’ve been warned. Your days are numbered.