End every helpdesk request on a good note

One thing we've learned from the (relatively) new field of behavioral economics is that people tend to remember the pain towards the end of something, not the total pain. Thus if a painful surgery ends with a long period of less pain we remember the experience as being much better (less painful) than if the pain maximizes towards the end. (Footnote: Daniel Kahneman's TED talk)

I had a hunch this was true. I've always felt it was important to make sure that a user's experience at a helpdesk ended on a good note. Even if the user is reporting a disaster (data loss, etc.) or if the experience just didn't go well (we mis-handled the request), I wanted the last bit to be a period of reduced pain.

Some ways to do this: hand holding, conforting, chatting with the person to "talk them off the ledge", or just an extra email to them saying, "By the way, I'm really glad you reported this problem. We weren't monitoring for that particular condition but now we are. As a result, our monitoring system is one step better and this will help everyone in the organization in the future. Thank you!"

Yes, it may sound a bit cheesy, but it is true and authentic.

We often forget that people are often intimidated by the thought of opening a helpdesk request. Doing simple things like that helps keep the communication channels open.

P.S. If you are near the NJ/NY/PA area, I'll be speaking at the LOPSA NJ PICC conference, May 7-8, 2010 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. For more info: http://picconf.org


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4 Comments

Also: if your policy is to ask the "have we given you excellent service today?" type of question at the end of the call -- DON'T. A genuine "is there anything else we can help with?" is fine -- unless you need the person to open another ticket, and can't do it for them -- but if you end with a question about yourself, you leave them with the impression that It's All About You.

I agree. Don't be insincere.

Many organizations with ticketing systems use them as a measure of productivity. In particular, they choose as a metric the time that a ticket remains open in the system. Shorter turnaround times are generally considered a good thing. Sometimes the number of tickets closed in a week/month is the metric.

These organizations generally suffer from rude help desk service as tickets get closed abruptly, almost always before the support personnel have verified a resolution.

There's a difference between efficient and effective.

fyi, the link to David Kahneman's TED talk isn't working anymore, you can get to it at http://blog.ted.com/2010/03/01/the_riddle_of_e/

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