Help desk system: Communication as key to overcoming user’s change resistance

The implementation process of a help desk system in any organization never starts from zero. Regularly, all companies have defined a procedure through which their customers can contact the technical support staff in order to solve their doubts and problems.

The most common scheme for this former help desk is based on the use of telephone calls to establish contact, and emails to follow up support cases. That is why one of the most important challenges for implementing a help desk system is the resistance to change of final users.

Surely, this old scheme has caused many problems to our customers but they are used to dealing with those problems but at the moment we are trying to introduce a new system so that they are more than comfortable with.

Let’s think for a while about an experimented user; they have been making telephone calls for many years, talking directly with their preferred technical “guru” and maybe sending emails to complete the resolution process. In fact, this user is very attached to their knowledge about the process:

– Who to call based on the specific technical problem they have. Nobody is better recognizing the capabilities of each one of the engineers in the technical support group than a final customer, or at least, that’s what they believe.

– When they have to call. Experienced users can distinguish which is the right time to open a support case in order to resolve it as quickly as needed. Few of them will open a case five minutes before lunch time, because they know that at this time of the day, a quick and not very interested answer is more than probable, so they will prefer to wait to open their cases until the afternoon.

– What it is their co-responsibility. They believe they don’t have any responsibility regarding an open case. Most of the customers don’t feel they have any responsibility with registration or documentation of the cases. They do not know the importance of these activities so if the technical problem is solved, that is the end of it.

When this kind of customer is confronted with a help desk system, it is very natural that they response with a strong resistance to the change.

What can we do in order to overcome this resistance? Here we have a group of actions that we believe could be useful to help you dealing with this matter:

– A good sale of the project is vital. Before the final implementation, it is imperative to communicate to the customers our objectives with the new help desk system. This communication could be more effective if the customers and their satisfaction is one of our main goals. Keep this relation in mind: more information, more customer positivity.

– Start the communication when the project is a fact. We do not want to create false expectations.

– Train your technical support staff. Introduce a new help desk system imply of course training our technical support staff on using the new system and its all capabilities but it is also the perfect time to go back on basic topics such as assertive communication, tolerance, management of expectations and focus on service. Make sure that the whole group understands how these concepts should be implemented with the new system.

– If you do a pilot project with a department or with a regional office, bring the results to the customers. Asking a user for help could be a great idea. An email from a user of this department or office, telling everybody how positive his experience was, could help a lot.

– Announce the project’s launch date. Sending a schedule with the activities of implementation, evaluation, adjustments and final settling, is a nice idea.

– Cover basics when the project starts. Be sure that your customers know and understand the basic process to open and follow a support case. Talk to them about main concepts as case numbers, appropriate subjects or how to properly close a case. All the basics have to be covered.

– Start with the old system and the new concurrently but set a date. When you implement your new help system is not a good idea to deny the use of the old one. For example, you could let the clueless or more resistant users open cases with phone calls. When this call is received, invite your customer to use the new system and tell them about the expiration date of the former system.

– When the date arrives, close the old system without looking back.

– Reduce the time between the automatic first message and the message from your support staff. Every help desk system include the possibility of a first automatic response. Regularly in this response the system gives customer a case number and makes a promise like “your ticket will be attended as soon as possible”. But while we are introducing a new system there is a risk; if a customer open a case, receive an automatic response and two hours later receive another message announcing the problem was solved, it is normal they feel extremely cold and impersonal the whole process. A nice way to avoid this feeling and the general rejection is reducing the time between the automatic first message and the first message written by a real person. Take this time as your first service level agreement to be considered.

– Keep customer all time posted. Generally customers want to know what is going on with their cases as much as possible. If the case is complex and requires reviewing a particular system, making some test o even consulting to a third party or a manufacturer, it is a good idea keep customer informed. Surely technical details will be unnecessary but a brief description at each step could be useful. In this way the user will understand his problem is being attended and could feel more related to the new help desk system.

– Listen to your users. It is always a good idea to listen to your customers. Consider it as an ideal resource to adjust the system when necessary.

– Check the acceptance level of your users. Maybe with a satisfaction poll and if it turns out well, it could be positive to publish the results.

At the end of the day, we have to keep in mind that one of the most important keys in a successful help desk system, is the customer so, it is fundamental to overcome change resistance, and our best weapon for this fight is communication, communication, communication.

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