5 annoying help desk calls -- and how to banish them

Free your help desk staff and empower your IT customers by eliminating these five all-too-common calls.

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Her investment was well worth her time: Instead of getting 300-plus calls in the weeks following the rollout, her help desk got around 25.

Michael Little, IT support center supervisor at Columbus State Community College in Ohio, says he faced a similar situation. He found that new hires as well as workers switching jobs or adding responsibilities were frequently calling with requests to access or learn new applications.

"It seemed we were repeating ourselves a lot," he says. To stop that situation, he worked with an IT team to build a website where workers could sign up for access and training on their own. As a result, those calls dropped from 50 a week to nearly none. "And if the calls do come in, the time it takes to respond to the calls is a lot less because we can direct them to the website," Little says.

Outage reporting

The help desk at Columbus State Community College supports 34,000 students, staff and faculty members, so when something goes wrong, the help desk hears about it -- multiple times over.

Little says users would bombard the help desk with calls when unexpected, unplanned outages occurred. The same response happened whenever IT took a system down for planned work as well.

"Stuff breaks, and it's always going to break, and people feel responsible to call," he says. "We would get bogged down with the 'I-can't-use-this-or-that' type of calls." Problem was, IT was already aware of the problem and didn't need to waste resources fielding hundreds of redundant calls.

The college's IT team tackled the problem using a few different strategies, Little says.

It implemented a strict policy that IT wouldn't take a system down without sending notices to users and the help desk in advance. IT also must post notices at the top of the college's website home page when systems go down.

And the help desk now sets up an automated message during outages so users calling to report it know right away that IT's already on the case, a move that's dropped calls from upwards of a few hundred a week to a just few stray callers.

The folks here at IDG Enterprise (Computerworld, Network World, ITworld, CIO, etc.) decided to join this meme and offer our take on what different things end users say to IT staffers. Broad generalizations sprinkled with some truth, of course!

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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