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Updated Nov 06, 2023

How to Create a Remote Help Desk for Your Business

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

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Skye Schooley, Senior Lead Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
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When an employee 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 permanently transitioned to remote and hybrid work, the need for efficient remote help desks has only 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 employees or customers. Since remote help desks are virtual (phone- or web-based), support agents can assist users regardless of their physical location.

There are several advantages to having a remote help desk, both internally and externally. For example, remote support can increase business productivity and customer satisfaction. Learn more about the benefits below.

How do you create a remote help desk?

Since a help desk is essential to your company’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 it’s tailored to fit your organization’s specific needs.

Dave Martinez, a former technology evangelist at Ivanti, shared 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? Is your help desk only for employees, or is it for customers too?
  2. Estimate your workload, then determine your staffing levels. Will you need one support agent or an entire team? Identify the needed 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 third-party help-desk programs available, but the best software will be an all-inclusive support solution that can scale with your business.
  5. Create a knowledge base 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 agents.
  6. Once implemented, 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. [Check out these tools to track KPIs.]

A key feature to remember when setting up your help desk is usability — for your support agents as well as the 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 the tools at their disposal and understand how to offer support and communicate clearly with end users, be they colleagues or customers.

“A simple process to receive, handle and solve/close queries and incidents should be created,” Tuan Vu, service management architect at 4me, told business.com. “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.”

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 now that workers and customers are operating from their homes. In fact, a Gallup poll found that eight in 10 people were working remotely or had a hybrid schedule as of June 2022.

“Everyone within an organization should have access to a remote help desk in one form or another to enable them to continue working,” said Vu. “It can be frustrating to have an issue with a specific application or not [know[ 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.”

Whether your teams work in the office or at home, small businesses should consider keeping remote desktop support in place. Remote support teams help small businesses not only offer flexibility and service to their staff and customers, but also manage unpredictable situations in the future. 

What are the benefits of a remote help desk?

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

Additionally, 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 or customer. Problems can be 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 operator is over $43,500. To operate remote help-desk services, your business will pay a fraction of that in most cases.

Furthermore, remote help desks are scalable as your business grows. You can talk to software providers about the package options that work best for your company’s current size, hours and technology needs. Then, as your organization expands, you might want to onboard additional help desk associates or increase your hours of operation. During periods of downsizing, you can often cancel your remote help-desk contract without penalty or decrease your hours of assistance.

Did You Know?Did you know
Although a help desk and a customer service desk both provide user support, a help desk focuses primarily on technical issues. If you want to facilitate traditional customer service assistance, there are pros and cons to outsourcing customer service to third parties.

What are some useful remote help-desk tools?

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

Remote access and support software

If you want to provide remote support to your team or customers, your best option is to sign up for all-inclusive remote access and support software package. Several great software programs for this include Zoho Assist, GoTo Resolve and Splashtop. However, the best remote access and support software for your team depends on your company’s specific needs.

>> Learn more: Zoho Assist review, GoTo Resolve review, Splashtop review

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-guided resources on your website that allow users to troubleshoot problems on their own before they submit help-desk tickets. After users exhaust their self-help options, they may still need to contact you for further assistance, and that’s OK too.

“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 your employees and clients. The vendor can customize service options to meet your needs. For example, you could outsource your IT help desk to an offshore provider to decrease overhead costs. Pricing can be adjusted based on how much support you need and what issues you expect the third-party IT personnel to handle.

FYIDid you know
Similar to remote help-desk tools, remote monitoring and management tools can help you virtually support employee technology, like laptops and tablets, from afar.

What should you consider when choosing remote support software?

When purchasing remote support software, consider which features are essential to the type of remote help you want to provide, like remote wake and reboot, file transfer, live chat, session recording, and cross-platform access. Which functions do you need right now, and what might you want to add on in the future? Choose a platform that can fit your current support needs and scale with your business as you grow. Pay attention to implementation charges and additional fees that may apply to determine the product’s value versus its costs.

“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 remote 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. [Learn what secure remote access is and how it works.]

Other features that make a good help desk include automation, bulk administration, multimonitor accessibility, speed and integration. When 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.”

Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

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Skye Schooley, Senior Lead Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Skye Schooley is a dedicated business professional who is especially passionate about human resources and digital marketing. For more than a decade, she has helped clients navigate the employee recruitment and customer acquisition processes, ensuring small business owners have the knowledge they need to succeed and grow their companies. In recent years, Schooley has enjoyed evaluating and comparing HR software and other human resources solutions to help businesses find the tools and services that best suit their needs. With a degree in business communications, she excels at simplifying complicated subjects and interviewing business vendors and entrepreneurs to gain new insights. Her guidance spans various formats, including newsletters, long-form videos and YouTube Shorts, reflecting her commitment to providing valuable expertise in accessible ways.
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