Becoming a Best-Practice Organization Through Outsourcing Help Desk Services


Can outsourcing help desk services help you become a best-practice institution? Absolutely.

Without a doubt, there are several big benefits when it comes to outsourcing your help desk services: consistent user experience, higher efficiency, and better utilization of valuable resources are just some of the many advantages. But one key benefit that often gets overlooked is the fact that outsourcing can help institutions become best-practice organizations.

That was one of the many points that Tracy Smith, Director of Service Support Operations at the University of Virginia, made during a recent webinar about launching and managing a partnership with a support provider. Outsourcing allows you to identify best practices and then implement them, all while delivering the value that comes with an experienced outsource partner.

You can check out the full webinar here:

Here are a few of the key areas where outsourcing can enable your help desk to excel:

Knowledge Management (KM)

It’s no secret that the quality of your written knowledge is key to a successful help desk. This is, after all, the primary source your advisors leverage to answer users’ questions quickly, effectively, and consistently. And KM is an important way to collect, maintain, and disseminate this valuable information.

Outsourcing often necessitates an evaluation of those KM processes and enables you to work with your vendor partner to establish the best strategy to keep these assets up-to-date and effective.

“Good knowledge management is absolutely critical,” Smith states. “Using an outsourced support partner highlights the need to make sure they are included early in all technical projects.”

Tools for Advisors

If one of your goals is to improve your call-to-resolution time and minimize the volume of calls being escalated, it is also a best practice to ensure the right tools are available to your help desk staff, particularly Tier 1.

“Tools have to be a part of all your projects involving new services or updating existing services,” Smith explains. “By tools I mean whatever it takes to reset passwords or to look up information that is called about at the service desk.”

In many organizations, help desk tools are often omitted, and Smith notes: “The lack of tools for Tier 1 advisors is a real pitfall.”

Outsourcing can spotlight the need for these tools sometimes more effectively than internal requests or discussion. Be prepared to challenge and change your IT culture if your institution does not provide the needed tools all the way to Tier 1—which includes your outsource partner.

All of this has a direct relation to customer satisfaction. “Available support tools drive first-call resolution and is therefore a best practice,” Smith says. “They affect customer satisfaction, efficiency, and the whole value proposition, regardless of who is providing your front-line support. But it becomes increasingly visible as you have an outsource vendor partner.”

Quality Assurance (QA) Processes

Continually improving the service your help desk provides goes a long way to maintaining high user satisfaction. Quality assurance is a great way to accomplish this, and outsourcing can not only help you hone your QA processes but it can provide a new workflow tailored specifically for your institution.

“The quality assurance process is an area for us that is make or break in our ongoing relationship,” Smith explains. Working with Blackboard, the University of Virginia developed a new system that handled both quality review of their knowledge base as well as checks for advisor training.

While discussing and developing a QA process with your outsourcing partner, be sure to ask key questions about its logistics and your expectations:

  • How fast will new or updated knowledge articles be available?
  • Is there a coaching and feedback process for advisors?
  • Do they have a system to report back the results of those coaching sessions?
  • How fast does training occur? Just-in-time training can’t be effective if it happens a week later.

“Having a quality assurance process that you and your partner can easily use will contribute greatly to your success,” Smith concludes.

Best Practices for Best Value

Outsourcing or even exploring outsource options for your help desk exposes you to numerous best practices that can make your institution run even more efficiently. After all, outsource vendors have vetted these processes with a wide range of clients, so they have the experience of knowing what works and what doesn’t.

Smith summarizes his experiences at the University of Virginia this way: “The bottom line is that an exceptional outsource partner will work with you as you implement best practices in your organization. And, they will help you deliver that value to your organization.”

For more insights from the webinar, download the slide deck.