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How to Create a Remote Help Desk for Your Business

Skye Schooley
Skye Schooley
Staff writer

Follow this six-step process to create an effective remote help desk for your business.

  • A remote help desk is a team of support agents who provide virtual technical support to your employees or customers.
  • To create a remote help desk, determine the level of support you need, staff accordingly, select your remote support tools, create a knowledgebase, set expectations, and track and modify support as needed.
  • Look for all-inclusive remote access and support software that can scale with your business. 

When a team member or customer needs virtual technical assistance, an agent from a remote help desk can resolve the issue quickly and conveniently. As many businesses around the U.S. have recently transitioned to remote work, the need for efficient remote help desks has increased. Every business can benefit from offering remote support, whether through an in-house or outsourced remote help desk. 

What is a remote help desk? 

A remote help desk, also known as a virtual help desk, is a support system of one or more agents who provide remote technical assistance to users or customers. Since remote help desks are virtual (phone- or web-based), support agents can assist users regardless of physical location. 

There are advantages to having a remote help desk, both internally and externally. For example, remote support can increase your team's productivity and your customers' satisfaction. 

Benefits of a remote help desk

A remote help desk is a cost-effective way to provide on-demand solutions to your staff. A remote help desk provides instant support without the need to wait for a support member to travel to the site. Remote help desk technicians can easily figure out the issue and offer resolutions without any downtime.

A remote help desk service reduces productivity disruptions, because it can work around your normal business hours and provide assistance when the device, application, or program isn't in use by the employee. Problems are solved quickly, with little to no loss of productivity.

Another benefit is that a remote help desk costs less than an in-house team. According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary of an IT help desk technician is over $41,000. For remote help desk services, your business will pay a fraction of that cost in most cases.

Remote help desks are scalable to your business. You can talk to providers about the package options that work best for your company's size, hours, and technology needs. As your company grows, you might want to hire additional help desk associates or increase your hours of operation. During periods of downsizing, you can often cancel the remote help desk contract without penalty or decrease your hours of assistance.

Who needs a remote help desk?

Businesses operating within complex industries like computer security and networking, finance, healthcare, IT and telecommunications should always have a help desk; however, every organization, regardless of industry or size, can benefit from a remote technical support team. Remote help desks are especially important during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, since most workers and customers are operating from their homes. 

"Everyone within an organization should have access to a remote help desk in one form or another to enable them to continue working," Tuan Vu, service management consultant at TOPdesk, told business.com. "It can be frustrating to have an issue with a specific application, or not knowing how to access certain company resources. But also, not everyone knows this information – that's where having a central team or system to provide this information adds value." 

When the coronavirus crisis is over and teams return to their offices, small businesses should consider keeping their remote desktop support in place. Remote support teams help small businesses to not only offer flexibility and service to their staff and customers, but also to manage unpredictable situations in the future. 

How to set up a remote help desk

Since a help desk is essential to your team's productivity, you should always have an experienced IT professional on your team. However, every business has unique tech support needs, so when you build your help desk support team for the first time, make sure that it is tailored to fit your specific needs. 

Dave Martinez, technology evangelist at Ivanti, created a six-step process that businesses can follow to set up their remote help desk systems.

  1. Determine what type of support and services your help desk will provide. Will it assist with fixing things only? Will you allow self-service requests? Will you provide a one-stop for requests for other non-IT departments?

  2. Estimate your workload, then determine your staffing levels. Will you need one support agent or an entire team? Set up their skills and training requirements.

  3. Determine your service levels and set expectations with the rest of the organization. Make clear the supported channels that employees and end users can use to communicate with the help desk. Establish the linkages and support levels with other specialized teams that can help with escalations. 

  4. Select a tool to provide support. There are several tools available, but the best software will be an all-inclusive support solution that can scale with your business.

  5. Create a knowledgebase and FAQs for use by your help desk staff and end users. You can offer self-service support to free up more time for the help desk staff.

  6. Track how well the help desk is doing and make ongoing adjustments. Capture KPIs and identify areas for improvement. Use surveys to gauge how end users feel about the customer support from the help desk.

A key feature to remember when setting up your support desk is usability – for your support agents as well as your users receiving support. If your support agents or end users don't understand how to use the system, you may as well not even have one. Make sure your support professionals are properly trained on how to use their tools, offer support and communicate clearly with end users. 

"A simple process to receive, handle, and solve/close queries and incidents should be created," said Vu. "Be clear and transparent in your communication to your users about the help desk. Setting the expectation of what they can and cannot support, but that they will do their best to help, is key. The experience a user has is crucial to how they perceive the whole system." 

Tools for a remote help desk

Several pathways are available for businesses to provide a remote help desk option to employees or customers. The following tools make it easier for onsite team members and remote help desk employees to work together.

Software

To provide remote support to your team or customers, your best option is to sign up for all-inclusive remote access and support software. Several great software programs are available for this, like Zoho AssistTeamViewer, and Splashtop. However, the best remote access and support software for your team depends on your specific needs. 

Self-service portals

You can add self-service web options to simplify the resolution process for technical issues. For example, it can be useful to have self-help resources on your website that allow users to troubleshoot problems on their own before they submit support tickets. 

"Provide multiple points of contact (e.g., single help desk email, phone, communication software like Microsoft Teams or Skype, and a self-service portal)," said Vu. "By giving users options, they feel they can easily access the services available to them." 

Third-party providers

Another option is using a third-party service to provide a remote help desk service to employees and clients. The company can customize service options to meet your needs. For example, you could outsource your IT help desk to an offshore provider to decrease overhead. Pricing can be adjusted by how much support you need and what issues you expect the IT personnel to handle.

How to choose remote support software programs

Consider which support software features are essential to the type of support you want to provide, like remote wake and reboot, file transfer, live chat, session recording, and cross-platform access. Which features do you need right now, and which features might you want to add on in the future? Choose a platform that can fit your support needs and scale with your business as you grow. Pay attention to implementation costs and additional fees that may apply. 

"You should select a tool that will support your supported services, communication channels, automation, reporting requirements, and provide a good user experience," said Martinez. "Automation is key to making the help desk staff as productive as possible and maintaining consistent service quality."  

What makes a good help desk?

A good help desk is transparent, reliable and convenient to access across all devices. This can make a world of difference to your team and your customers. When users connect with your remote support, they should feel confident that the connection will be stable, secure and private. Agents should be motivated to provide clear resolution steps in a way that is engaging and easy to follow. 

Other features that make a good help desk include automation, bulk administration, multi-monitor accessibility, speed and integration. When you are creating a help desk, consider what features your employees or customers will expect from you, and employ software and agents that exceed those expectations. 

"To drive engagement and adoption, it's important to speak to your users," said Vu. "Understand what they need and be transparent about what's happening. Welcome their feedback and be open to a different way of working."

Image Credit: scyther5 / Getty Images
Skye Schooley
Skye Schooley
business.com Staff
Skye Schooley is a staff writer at business.com and Business News Daily, where she has written more than 200 articles on B2B-focused topics including human resources operations, management leadership, and business technology. In addition to researching and analyzing products that help business owners launch and grow their business, Skye writes on topics aimed at building better professional culture, like protecting employee privacy, managing human capital, improving communication, and fostering workplace diversity and culture.