4 Modern Help Desk Challenges (And Their Solutions)

Gladly Team

Read Time

8 minute read

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Customer service challenges faced by help desk teams are a dime a dozen – different days, different challenges.

How your help desk teams handle these challenges is critical to your company’s long-term success. If they rise to the occasion, your company will likely have customers for life with increased profitability to boot. But if they fall at the final hurdle, your company can kiss goodbye to some of its most valued customers (not to mention a share of its hard-earned profits).

Here are four common customer service challenges faced by help desk teams along with tips on how to convert them into relationship-building opportunities.

1. Failing to Answer a Question

Let’s face it. Just because some customers think that customer service agents should be the fount of all knowledge, that doesn’t make it so. On some days, even the most seasoned agents don’t have all the answers.

Contrary to popular belief, the ‘gold standard’ of customer service isn’t always about agents knowing the right answer. More often than not, it’s about them finding out the right answer, so the customer doesn’t have to (unless you have a self-service app as the customer’s preferred option.)

Feeding customers guesstimates and misinformation is always a bad idea. So, too, is an agent responding to a difficult question with “I don’t know,” which can sound the death knell of even the healthiest customer relationship. Instead, they should say something along the lines of, “Please bear with me [insert customer name] and I’ll do my best to find out the answer for you.”

Having a go-to knowledge base for agents is key. Gladly’s Answers, for example, is a catalog of pre-written, frequently-used responses to popular customer questions, which agents can easily access to fill in any knowledge gaps. [Read More: FAQ Template]

What is especially useful about this feature is that an answer can be customized to support various channels of communication (even different languages).

For example, let’s say Jack calls your company’s customer support line. Answers will automatically suggest a response suitable for a phone conversation. Similarly, if Jill reaches out to your company by SMS, chat or Facebook Messenger, Answers will recommend a shorter reply.

Answers empowers agents to provide customers with accurate information on time, every time.


Coaching Support Teams: Engagement, Incentives, and Technology


2. Transferring Calls To Another Agent (Or Department)

“I love to repeat myself,” said no customer. Ever.

Being transferred to another agent or department is the bane of many customers’ lives. They hate it with a passion. Why? Because they almost invariably have to explain their issue again – sometimes, for the umpteenth time.

With this in mind, rather than agents saying to customers, “You’ll need to speak to [insert name/department]. Do you mind if I transfer you?” they should say, “I’ll be happy to help you with this [insert customer name].”

But this doesn’t mean the agent must go it alone – quite the contrary. With the best will in the world, even dedicated heroes aren’t always best-positioned to resolve an issue on their own. Occasionally, they need to reach out to colleagues to tap into their knowledge and expertise. Like the old adage goes, “Two heads are better than one.”

Behind-the-scenes team collaboration should be easy and seamless. Gladly’s Tasks, for example, allows agents to resolve customer issues with other agents and experts at your company (inside and outside the customer service team).

Having a centralized platform grants agents access to one, lifelong customer conversation across all channels, such as email, chat, SMS and phone calls. This conversation timeline gives agents enough context, such as recent purchases and service entitlements, to add a radically personal touch and enables them to resolve issues faster – all without asking customers to painstakingly repeat their previous conversations with agents.

By removing impersonal service tickets, inefficient call transfers and, worse still, ‘blind transfers’  – where agents transfer the customer to a colleague without first confirming their availability to take the call – customers are more likely to feel satisfied knowing the agent was able to assist them.

3. Handling Irritated or Angry Customers

In the words of Bill Gates, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

Some customers get upset because they’re confused, others because of an agent’s mistake (actual or perceived) and some are simply having a bad day. Whatever the case, they tend to display their unhappiness in a number of ways – including sarcasm, mild irritation, anger and even rage.

In today’s social media era, bad news travels faster than you can type ‘v-i-r-a-l.’ Even if the agent ‘wins’ the argument, one viral customer complaint or negative customer review can ensure that your company’s bottom line is ultimately the biggest loser.

When it comes to confronting angry customers, de-escalation is key. Disney has developed a de-escalation technique represented by the acronym, ‘H.E.A.R.D,’ which service agents would be well-advised to use:

Hear: The agent should let the customer tell their story without interrupting them.

Empathize: The agent should convey that they understand how the customer must feel (using phases such as “I’d be frustrated, too”).

Apologize: Even if the agent didn’t cause the customer to be upset, they can still be genuinely apologetic about how the customer feels.

Resolve: The agent should resolve the issue quickly or ensure that their colleagues are equipped to do so. They shouldn’t be afraid to ask the customer, “What can I do to make this right?”

Diagnose: The agent should get to the bottom of why the issue arose and focus on fixing the process, so it doesn’t happen again.

To encourage relationship-building with customers, companies can give agents a competitive edge by always assigning the most suitable agent to a customer. This intelligent routing system automatically matches agents with customers based on factors such as their unique history, status and current situation – like an irate customer who is in need of some TLC or a VIP who wants a ‘white glove’ experience.

4. Surpassing Customers’ Expectations

Surpassing customers’ expectations is no mean feat, but it isn’t mission impossible.

Sir Richard Branson was onto something when he said, “The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them – preferably, in unexpected and helpful ways.”

To exceed customers’ expectations, your company should take a customer-centric approach, which involves:

  • Gathering customer feedback (and addressing service areas that are below par);
  • Generating data that reveals what customers want;
  • Training agents to deliver a high-quality customer experience; and
  • Focusing on adding a personal touch to the customer experience.

Surpassing customers’ expectations can generate repeat customers who are not only loyal to your company, but advocate on your company’s behalf.

Challenges Faced By Help Desk Teams: The Final Word

Even if it seems like customer service challenges faced by help desk teams are numerous, they’re by no means insurmountable.

When your team has all it’s tools for success at their fingertips, it’s reassuring to know that your company has all its bases covered – from customer-centric tasks to business-critical data insights in real-time, so you can provide radically personal customer service, day in and day out. Sign-up for our demo today to find out how Gladly can conquer the customer service challenges faced by your help desk teams.