The level of customer service provided by your business – and ultimately the level of customer satisfaction - heavily depends on how well you can manage and respond to customer requests.
Unfortunately, doing so without any help desk software solutions or similar tools is exceptionally challenging.
However, with professional help desk software in place, support teams can handle all incoming customer communications from various digital and traditional channels quickly and efficiently.
To achieve high levels of efficiency, your team needs to know the ins and outs of the help desk software tool they are using. Help desks can be very complex software with tons of hidden features. As such, getting to know its functionality is essential. That is why having a complete help desk manual is critical.
What is a help desk manual?
A help desk manual is a detailed user guide that describes every aspect of your help desk platform. It describes how to use it to ensure smooth internal and external communication, including support requests, issues, or complaints.
Definition of help desk software
Help desk software is a tool that streamlines all support requests into a centralized inbox so agents can manage all queries from a single interface without having to switch between platforms and devices. All incoming requests are transformed into “tickets”, so help desk software is often referred to as help desk ticketing software or a support ticketing system.
What is the purpose of a help desk manual?
The primary purpose of a help desk manual is to help your team manage your help desk efficiently, as it outlines how the help desk software should be set up, used, and operated to deliver a consistently high level of support. In addition, when a new support agent joins your team, your help desk manual can significantly assist you in their onboarding process.
Help desk solutions are complex software tools, and managing one can be a challenge. However, with a solid help desk user manual, things become easier for your entire team. Help desk manuals are essential for everyone in your support department, regardless of how their role is classified, their authority, and their responsibilities within your team.
Who needs help desk manuals?
Here are three core job functions that use help desk manuals regularly.
Help desk admins
Admins are employees with some technical background responsible for setting up and configuring your help desk software system. They’re also in charge of managing advanced help desk settings, integrations, and adding new users to the system. By creating a comprehensive help desk manual, your admins will know how to set everything up correctly and will be able to refer to the guide if they encounter any trouble.
A customer support manager supervises support agents and manages customer service processes, workflows, and procedures. A help desk manual usually describes all of these processes and procedures in detail, ensuring all managers know how to proceed in specific scenarios while remaining efficient.
Support agents are the frontline of your support team who are specifically responsible for interacting with customers, responding to customer requests, and resolving customer issues. A help desk manual would typically provide in-depth guidelines on how to manage tickets and handle requests effectively.
How to create a help desk manual
Creating a comprehensive help desk manual requires a great deal of planning and preparation. On top of that, you need to understand what exactly should be outlined in your document to ensure it brings value to your support team.
Below are some suggestions on what you can include in your help desk manual – you can customize it based on the needs of your team and the capabilities of the help desk software you use. The first priority to have is to outline and document your help desk processes.
Ticket organization and management play a crucial role in your support team’s efficiency.
To ensure all tickets keep moving through the ticket lifecycle quickly, you need to define ticket statuses. Based on the help desk tool you use, there may be default ticket statuses or an option to modify and create custom statuses. Your help desk manual should list the ticket statuses you’ve defined and explain what each of them means.
Here are some examples:
- New: The default status of a ticket when it gets created.
- Open: The ticket is open, and someone is working on the request.
- Pending: An agent is waiting to get more information from the customer.
- Escalated: The ticket was escalated to a senior agent or another department.
- Resolved: The ticket reached its final stage in processing, and no more action is required.
In addition to ticket statuses, your help desk manual should define your ticket priority matrix so your agents understand how to prioritize tickets based on the available information. Below are some standard prioritization levels:
- Urgent: Tickets marked as urgent are critical issues that may prevent a user from working and cause devastating consequences. These tickets should be addressed first or escalated to a senior agent/manager.
- High: High priority issues may prevent users from using the product or service effectively and require an immediate response.
- Medium: Tickets marked with a medium priority are questions or issues that don’t prevent users from using the product, but they require a quick response regardless.
- Normal: Tickets marked as normal can be questions from people who aren’t active users or leads. “Normal” tickets can also contain general user feedback that doesn’t require an immediate response.
Next, your help desk manual should outline your entire workflow from when a user submits a ticket until it’s resolved. The outline should describe what your users/customers can expect to happen when they submit a support request. Provide a brief description of the following to ensure your agents have a clear understanding of the processes and actions they need to take to resolve a ticket:
- Response to tickets: Indicate whether your support agents need to send an email acknowledging the customer’s initial message. Explain what details should be included in the first response and whether you should inform the customer of the expected resolution date.
- User follow-up: Explain how the support agent should proceed and format a follow-up email if the customer does not respond within a specified period.
- Closing tickets: Explain how and when tickets are closed and when your agents should send out CSAT surveys.
- User feedback: Describe the preferred steps your agents should take if customers are unsatisfied with their service and how they should report concerns.
While support agents can resolve most support requests during the first contact, some issues might demand the intervention of a senior rep or a manager who has more in-depth knowledge, technical expertise, or simply more authority than standard support agents. To ensure streamlined support and a quick ticket resolution process, you need to have a clearly outlined and documented ticket escalation procedure that your agents can follow whenever they encounter issues they cannot resolve immediately.
The escalation process may differ depending on the size of your support team. Generally, a ticket escalation process should:
- Define which issues require escalation and to whom to escalate them.
- List your support tiers and outline the skill levels and responsibilities of each tier.
- Estimate the duration for resolving tickets (Service Level Agreements).
- Define who to notify when an issue needs to be escalated.
- State how often agents should provide updates to customers.
- Define who to contact when the issue is still unresolved after the first escalation.
Help desk set up checklist
Most help desk tools offer multi-channel support, meaning you can integrate them with as many support channels as you want. These channels could include email, live chat, phones, social media, knowledge bases, and more. The primary purpose of a checklist like this is to describe how to set up and integrate each communication channel that your customers will use to communicate with your support team. Here’s what it can include:
- Email: Explain how to connect email accounts and configure the centralized mailbox used to create and respond to tickets.
- Phone: Explain how to set up the call center, connect VoIP video phone providers, and create an IVR menu with call routing options.
- Live chat: Outline how to place live chat widgets onto websites and set up proactive chat triggers, such as VoIP instant messaging.
- Social media messaging: Create a step-by-step guide for each social media integration (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, instant messaging apps).
- Self-service portal: Explain how to create a self-service customer portal that contains a knowledge base, FAQs, and other helpful documentation.
- Third-party apps: Describe how to integrate third-party apps to enhance help desk capabilities and improve agent performance.
Help desk software solutions may have different settings and workflow management options. When highlighting the basic and advanced help desk settings, pay particular attention to outlining the following features:
Setting up automation is especially critical for businesses with high ticket volumes as it ensures tickets are automatically routed to the most relevant agents or departments. Automation helps manage the workflow of your support team, improve agent performance and customer satisfaction.
Any fully functional help desk software would typically allow you to set up action-triggered, time-triggered, or SLA-based automation rules. Your help desk manual should list all the available automation options supported by your help desk and explain how to set them up.
Service-level agreements (SLAs)
SLAs help set performance standards for your support team and ensure every issue is responded to and resolved on time. Your manual should determine and outline your SLA policy, so your agents have a clear understanding of the service standards expected of them in the workplace.
Creating and deploying canned responses to common queries can significantly streamline agent workflow and save both agents and customers a lot of time and effort. Remember to include instructions on creating and using canned messages to speed up responses and issue resolution times.
Analytics and reporting
Based on the reporting capabilities supported by your help desk software, you may be able to track a variety of metrics and KPIs to improve your team’s performance. Outline the reporting options of your help desk tool, explain how to generate different kinds of reports, how to customize the reporting dashboard, and who should be tracking and managing your help desk statistics.
Detail the standard help desk channels
With a centralized help desk system, your agents can manage support requests from various communication channels from a single interface. However, each of these channels can have specific workflows for configuring and handling tickets.
Since email remains one of the most preferred business communication methods for consumers, your team is likely to be receiving a large portion of support requests from emails. Make sure to use an email ticketing system that helps set up and configure email templates, set up spam filters, tag and prioritize tickets, or apply mass actions to simplify and speed up ticket management.
Ensure your help desk manual includes information about the most critical call center features. Describe how to create IVR menus, set up call routing options, automated callbacks, transfer calls, track call metrics, make outbound calls or internal calls.
Live chat is getting increasingly popular with consumers as it offers immediate real-time assistance. If your help desk provides live chat support, give some guidance on configuring chat routing options, setting up chatbots, enabling proactive chat, setting up canned responses, and tracking website visitors.
Social media messaging
Most help desk software tools offer integrations with the most popular social media platforms and instant messengers. Create a list of the social media and instant messaging apps that you can integrate with your help desk, describe how to connect them, and outline best practices for handling social media support queries.
Outline the self-help capabilities of your help desk. Showcase how to set up and manage external and internal knowledge bases, create FAQs, add, categorize and edit self-help content in your knowledge base, set up and manage a community forum, make feedback widgets, etc.
Index the help desk features
Today’s popular help desk solutions are equipped with a wide range of basic and advanced features. Even though your support team might not be using all of them in their daily operations, some features may become necessary in the future. Index all the help desk features your help desk software provider offers so your team members can conveniently refer to them whenever needed.
Depending on your business type and the size of your support team, you may want to organize your agents into different departments based on functional responsibilities, supported products, supported channels, regions, or other parameters.
For example, like most organizations, you might have separate departments for customer support, sales, marketing, human resources, accounting, etc. You can also have respective departments that handle different customer types (VIPs, partners, resellers, etc.) or customers from other geographic locations and timezones.
Overall, departments keep your help desk more organized and efficient as your agents will only respond to the tickets they are best equipped to handle. Think about the best way to organize your departments suited to your organization’s needs and describe the scope of responsibilities for each of them. Your help desk manual should also outline:
- How to create and edit departments
- How to add and remove agents from departments
- How to set up automation rules for routing tickets to specific departments
- How to monitor each department’s performance
7 examples of help desk manuals
Help desk manuals can differ based on the specific purpose your help desk serves and whether it’s intended for your customers or employees. You may also have different help desk manuals serving different departments within a single organization. Below are examples of some of the most common help desk manuals.
Technical help desk manual
A technical help desk manual provides step-by-step instructions on correctly setting up, configuring, and using the help desk software. It also outlines how to connect your support channels, integrate the help desk software with your CRM and other business tools and third-party apps.
Customer service help desk manual
A customer service help desk manual outlines how support agents can efficiently manage and respond to support tickets, what phrasing they should use, and how they should communicate with customers in different scenarios.
Business operation help desk manual
A help desk manual for managing business operations with help desk software describes how to set up and use a help desk to manage operations of any business unit, e.g., logistics, marketing, or maintenance operations.
Vendor or suppliers support help desk manual
A vendor help desk manual highlights how to configure and use help desk software to manage vendor relationships, keep accurate supplier records and information, store the information on routing and scheduling of deliveries, manage supplier contracts, track supplier performance, etc.
IT help desk manual
An IT help desk manual contains a step-by-step guide for managing incidents and internal IT support requests.
HR help desk manual
An HR help desk manual defines how HR departments can utilize help desk software for efficient hiring, onboarding and offboarding, training, HR compliance, grievance handling, and other HR-related activities.
Facility management help desk manual
A facility management help desk manual outlines communication processes with maintenance and facility workers. It explains what details you should include in maintenance requests and how to format them appropriately.
Having a solid, in-depth help desk manual in place is critical for any organization using help desk software. In general, a help desk manual is a user guide for your entire support team that outlines how your help desk software system should be configured, used, and managed.
Having a manual like this ensures customer requests and issues are handled quickly while agents remain productive and efficient, ultimately contributing to consistently high customer satisfaction levels.