Feeling clueless about how to offer premier MSP help desk services to clients?
As veterans of the MSP industry, we at Support Adventure are excited to give you insights on how to build and manage a successful help desk. We have worked with dozens of MSPs over the years and know all the dos and don’ts of the help desk framework. We know all the problems and issues you can expect and how to avoid them.
So let’s break it all down for you, starting with management.
Why Should Managers Pay Attention to the Big Picture in the MSP?
Firstly, to build a great MSP help desk, managers need to have a good overview of the entire business. A well-structured MSP must have thoughtful managers who always keep the big picture in mind.
They must see where the company performs the best, where it’s going, and where it wants to be in the future. To accomplish this, your help desk should ideally have a service manager, an organizational manager and a manager of operations.
The main questions they should answer are:
- Where do we want to be in 6 months? …A year? ..Two years?
- How do we logistically get to where we need to be?
- How can we motivate our staff members to go in the same direction?
An impactful manager will look at all processes of the MSP and how those can continually improve.
Processes and System of the Help Desk in MSP
Processes play one of the most important roles when building a help desk at an MSP. For this it’s imperative to review them regularly.
The system is the second most essential attribute of any successful help desk. Management should always keep in mind that they aren’t working in the system, but on the system. Life gets even easier when there is someone in a dispatcher role helping the manager.
A dispatcher essentially is the right-hand man to management as they can additionally control every ticket at the help desk. They are constantly checking all the tickets, as well as looking at the quality of ticket notes and making sure next steps are included.
The harsh reality is that technicians aren’t very good at consistently doing these processes which is why it’s crucial to have a dispatcher or another organizational staff member. Another major task of an organizational task member like a dispatcher is to check that all employees are following processes and procedures.
Why Your MSP’s Help Desk Needs a Dispatcher
In our consultations with our MSP clients, we never fail to stress the sheer necessity of having a dispatcher.
Why? Because without one, you are asking for total chaos and disorganization in your help desk.
For example, let’s say your MSP has five technical employees and you want to hire someone else to improve the distribution and completion of tasks. Should the sixth staff member be a dispatcher or a technician?
Without a doubt, your organization will become even more tumultuous if you don’t hire a dispatcher because you will have too many cooks in the kitchen with ZERO organization. If you have a bunch of technicians answering calls and cherry picking which tickets they want to work on, you’re just creating a tangled web of unsupervised work.
A dispatcher can handle the intake of calls and assign tickets to the right technicians. Because they handle all the inbound communications and look at the system as a whole, they can better see which employees are available at the moment that they assign a ticket. This system is much better than having a ring group with 50 calls a day spread across all five technicians.
They are especially very helpful when an MSP receives complaints from a client because they consistently look at every single case from a process-oriented view.
They can look at tickets to dissect where things went wrong and with which technician. Additionally, they make sure that engineers send a ticket back to them if the tech can’t solve an issue.
MSP Help Desk Dispatcher and Ticket Monitoring
A dispatcher is the manager’s best friend because they are making sure that an MSP is running all the processes that were created for the help desk.
The main job of the dispatcher in the service desk includes:
- Monitoring tickets.
- Checking if techs are updating tickets daily.
- Checking for updated documentation.
The dispatcher will ensure that technicians are doing the most important task, as simple as it may sound, which is to keep tickets up-to-date with the most relevant details.
Help Desk Documentation: What You Need to Know
Documentation is everything for the MSP help desk. Issues simply can’t be resolved without it.
But documentation is something that staff needs to exercise all the time. It should be a habit. Technicians must have the ability to instill that habit in themselves. And the great thing about having a dispatcher is that they’re in the habit of reminding techs to do things they haven’t done and pushing them to follow documentation standards. Documentation should be created by reviewing tickets.
Problems and Best Practices
Documentation often becomes a big pain point on the MSP’s help desk, especially if a technician gets a ticket but doesn’t have the information to do the job properly.
First of all, documentation must all be sorted and kept in a central location. For example, tools like IT Glue can help you out for organization’s sake. In fact, we are strong advocates of this software. The tool helps you to structure and organize files so that everything is easy to find. Imagine how many hours you’ll save with this software!
But utilizing IT Glue doesn’t automatically mean that all the work is done and every bit of information is stored in the right place. Some things might be wrong or missing in some way unless you have the right culture of documentation in your MSP’s help desk to prevent that.
Some companies even prefer Google Docs over ITGlue due to their well-made templates, so that might be a better option for you. But no matter where you store documentation, account managers must scan it from time to time for maintenance and updating.
If your MSP has a reliable system for managing all your clients’ information and keeping it all up-to-date, ITGlue or Google Docs are both great tools. If you are considering moving over to IT Glue specifically, the transition isn’t very complicated. It’s about taking ownership of the process of documentation, and slowly getting staff on board with using the new system.
Importance of Ticket Notes in the Help Desk
Writing fool-proof ticket notes that adequately detail progress on an incident is a huge part of a successful help desk operation. This is so huge that we have created an MSP Ticket Note Writing Guide for you to download!
Generally speaking, ticket notes must include two main components:
- Business information.
- Technical information.
Under the business information, we understand ticket issues in terms of success for the client–for example, when we receive a complaint from the client.
The technical information allows staff to understand the matter of the issue and how it was solved. This helps technicians see what techniques can be repeated later in case a similar problem occurs. In the end, if a technician writes good ticket notes, someone could make a knowledge-based article out of this as well for future reference.
This is why we stress that it all starts with the ticket notes. Employees can also link to any knowledge-based articles which were used during the process of resolving an incident when they write ticket notes. And if they found some mistakes in the documentation they used, they should update it instantly.
We always make sure that each ticket ends with one of the following four statements:
- ticket resolved
- post-resolution notes (eg.”the documentation needs to be changed” or there could be a note for a staff member to review details about the resolved ticket)
- steps for resolving are defined
- ticket escalation
Steps for tickets getting to the responsible person
If a ticket isn’t resolved yet, there must be well-defined “next steps” for it. These must be clearly stated on the ticket. For example, if a ticket is waiting on a software installation at 10am, that must be written in the ticket notes as the “next step.”
This is so helpful because a person who is looking at a ticket will know the most up-to-date status of the issue. This also helps the dispatcher or service manager to understand what’s currently going on with the ticket, what action is planned, and who is the responsible person.
Escalation of the ticket
Whenever an escalation is required, the person responsible for that ticket must also write comprehensive notes about why they’re escalating it. They need to document the reasons why they can’t solve it and explain what was already done in order to fix the issue.
This is the main process of taking ticket notes. Once you nail this procedure consistently, your MSP help desk will be well-organized with comprehensive documentation. Staff will be able to look at ticket notes from the past and solve the same issue in the future more easily.
Find the Right People for Your MSP Help Desk
Staff is the most important success factor in the help desk of the MSP. You need to invest time, effort and money to recruit and hire these people.
We prefer technicians who want to learn and grow with a team instead of focusing only on money. Hopefully, that’s the sort of people you attract. Your staff should be willing to grow as people and as professionals.
Our best MSP clients have team player staff members who contribute to their excellent structure. And these employees love the companies they work for because they feel respected. Their bosses care about their employees as equals, instead of being people with God complexes who fixate on profits above everything.
You must also find managers who will give staff a good feeling every day. They also have to know how to interview people who are going to fit into your culture. If candidates don’t know absolutely everything about the technologies at hand, you must have managers who are happy to mentor them.
What Role do Metrics Play in the MSP?
Metrics are a way of understanding which processes are currently in place in an MSP and how they are running.
For example, a 30 minute delay in response time is a metric or KPI (key performance indicator) that can aid with improving support. This can tell you if the dispatcher is looking at the board quickly enough or not. If he or she doesn’t do it fast enough, then the first response indicator will go down.
Metrics can also speak volumes about the communication time between the dispatcher and the technicians and how that affects productivity. For example, if the KPI is one hour, communication is probably taking too long and management needs to get involved to figure out why. They might learn that the dispatcher is just assigning a ticket, but not communicating its priority or urgency.
Of course, there are many more metrics, like phone calls or unassigned tickets. Overall an MSP has around 70 different metrics which help tremendously to keep an overview of organization and processes. Thus, you must know your most important metrics and track them precisely.
Main Elements of MSP Help Desk Success
What your MSP help desk shouldn’t do is just as important as what it should. Some of the worst practices of we recommend MSP helpdesks avoid are:
- Technicians cherry picking tickets.
- Senior technicians answering phones.
- Technicians doing insufficient documentation.
- Technicians proceeding escalations in the chat rooms.
We have learned through working with dozens of MSPs and contracting staff for them on all six liveable continents that a prosperous MSP does the following:
- Listens to all the stakeholders of the company and asks for their opinion in order to improve operations.
- Incorporates suggestions, thus satisfying the stakeholders.
- Creates a great system of boundaries for the help desk.
- Recruits and trains new staff with an organized onboarding system.
- Mentors staff and validates the positive work they do.
- Invests in the right tools to run the dispatch and management side of the business.
If you are doing all of the above, then the chances of becoming better than 90% of MSPs in the market are quite high.
We hope you enjoyed the information we have provided and are ready to implement these suggestions with your help desk! If you are aiming to scale your MSP business by hiring highly talented and cost-effective staff, check out our services on this page.