How to Rollout Help Desk Software so that People Actually Use It

Here is a recommendation on how to rollout help desk software so that the people in your company actually use it. It probably applies to all software. The advice is based on the perspective of an end user. That end user is me. Hopefully you’ll find this new perspective helpful as I’m probably a pretty decent approximation for all the people in your office who don’t work in programming, IT, or DevOps.

My suggestions are based on software rollouts that have “worked” on me in the past. In general, those rollouts have three things in common:

  1. Address my fears.
  2. Make it easy for me to comply.
  3. Have incentives for me to act quickly.

Fear may seem like a weird thing to talk about in the context of a software rollout. The truth is that most of your end users will be just like me in that we’re generally not excited about your new software. Instead we’re worried that it will make our jobs more complicated, or worse, make our jobs obsolete.

Therefore, you should imagine me as a scared bunny rabbit and your new help desk software as an angry bear with big bear claws. I’m not excited to hear that there’s an online centralized repository for my support requests, instead I have a hodgepodge of irrational fears swirling around in my head, such as:

  1. Long waits – right now I can call in or stop the IT office and get immediate assistance. Will I still get the same level of personalized attention and speedy service?
  2. More passwords – oh gosh, here’s one more password I have to remember.
  3. Extra steps – why should I have to take an extra step to make YOUR job easier.
  4. Black boxes – i’m not comfortable sending my request into some black box where it disappears. How do I know that you’ve received it?
  5. Big Brother – are you going to be comparing my volume of requests versus my coworkers or are you going to report to my boss that I really didn’t know how to use Microsoft Office as well as I claimed on my resume?

You’ll see how to address these kinds of fears in my rollout recommendations below.

The Help Desk Rollout Email

The email is the most important part of your help desk rollout. It will sit right next to all the other important things I need to do for the day. I will read it as long as your subject line is relevant, or mysterious, or says the word URGENT in it (I’m a real sucker for the word ‘urgent’).Most everyone in your office will be just like me and use email to manage their priorities for the day. They will read your email to. That’s not the hard part. The hard part is getting me to read the email AND do what you want me to do. Here’s how you do the hard part.

Send me the rollout email when the new help desk is live and accessible.

Your helpdesk rollout isn’t a summer blockbuster, there’s no need for me to see a trailer a month in advance. If anything, it’ll be frustrating if you announce something that I can’t use yet. Furthermore, if you tell me the new helpdesk will be ready in a month and for some reason it’s not ready in a month, that makes you look bad, even if it’s not your fault – perceptions are reality, and all that.

So, if you want, send me a brief heads up email one week before the rollout is absolutely certain (ie it’s been tested on your live server and your support staff is up to speed on it). All the email needs to say is “hey, something’s coming in about a week. keep an eye on your email.”

Then, send me one official rollout email when the helpdesk is live.

Include tons of keywords in the email so when I inevitably forget about this new help desk system and search it in Gmail, your email will pop up.

Give me one way to submit a ticket.

Start with one low friction, high speed option that I will “get” immediately.

For example, give me one support inbox to send tickets to OR one support website URL where I can go to submit tickets.

If you’re fighting this recommendation, that’s probably because you’re a technical person and technical people like surveying all their options and making the optimal decision. I am not a technical person nor are most of my colleagues. We want to be told the best way to do something. It’s your responsibility to tell us the best way.
Software developers won’t make this easy on you. They build help desk systems that have to accommodate everyone, and everyone has different preferences. That’s why you see help desk software with options for users to submit tickets via email, phone call, Twitter message, widget form, customer portal, smoke signal, etc. Don’t give all those options to me. Pick the one that makes the most sense and promote it exclusively in the rollout email.

Promote a “no ticket, no work done” policy

Before you roll out, get management to sign off on a “no ticket, no work done” policy.

That makes the point clearly to me, especially if it’s backed by a management seal of approval.

If management has questions about the inflexibility of such a policy, you can promote the tracking, trending, and reporting benefits of your help desk ticketing system and explain how this will eventually help your organization reduce cost and increase revenue.

Once you get management buy-in you should mention the “no ticket, no work done” policy in your rollout email. CC the CEO and/or the highest ranking executive who gave you permission to deploy the help desk software. I’ll generally prioritize and act on things that I think management wants me to do.

(Optional) Bribe me with incentives

I’m a sucker for competitions, puzzles, and anything that needs to be solved. Most office workers are like me and love contests too, especially contests that briefly distract them from their day jobs. Take advantage of that.One idea is to have me submit tickets to receive clues to solve a puzzle. As I submit more tickets, you can reply to the tickets with additional clues (or automate that process if you really want to show off the capabilities of your new help desk software).Another idea could be to offer a special prize to the first ten people who correctly submit a ticket into your system. I will really want to be one of those ten people.

Sample email script

Here’s a sample email script you can use when you rollout your help desk.

Subject: [Urgent – Do Not Delete] New process for IT support / help desk requests
Dear {First name},

We’re excited to release a new help desk process today that will allow you to easily submit support requests & check their status online.

Simply go to: http://
Enter your email address & log in. No password is required.
Explain your request & click “Submit”

Once you submit your ticket, you’ll receive an email that confirms we’ve received your message.

 

This new process is a company wide best practice and it’s the only way to guarantee prompt service. If you don’t submit a ticket, you will not be able to get work done on your requests.

We understand that IT issues can slow you down. This new process helps us address your requests faster. It also allows us to be proactive and prevent issues before they happen.

We’ll still be onsite and available to stop by your desk to help fix laptop, phone, PC, or other issues when necessary.

Thanks,
PS. As part of the help desk rollout, we are holding a special contest where you can win by solving a puzzle using a series of clues we’ll issue from the help desk system. To participate in the contest all you have to do is submit a ticket with the words ‘Contest’ in it and you’ll receive the first clue and instructions on what to do next.

PPS. Don’t delete this email. Please archive it email for your records.

keywords: support request, help, help desk, helpdesk, IT, support, tech support, tech, assistance (to help you find this email in Search later)

More Helpdesk Rollout Tips

After you send the help desk rollout email, you’ll have a few end users who revert to their old habits of calling in for support or popping into your cube for a quick chat about their issues. It won’t be me of course, but it will probably be one of my friends in Sales or the guy whose the VP of Whatever.

Here’s a few things you can do to fend off non-compliance from these weirdos.

Put your bad memory to good use

Something that we all have in common is that we forget stuff. I forget stuff, you forget stuff. It happens. This understanding means that I’m sympathetic to the phrase “I forgot” and your poor memory is a very useful resource for deploying a new trouble ticketing system. In other words, if you need a reason why someone must submit a ticket the way you want them to, then cite your terrible memory. Tell me that you might accidentally forget about my issue, if I don’t submit a ticket.

Here are some example scripts you can use with non-adopters who use an unsolicited format for their support requests:

In-person Request – “Yes I’ll look into it, but please go ahead and submit a ticket, because odds are, the second you leave my office someone else will walk in with a question and I will have forgotten this conversation altogether.”

Phone Call Request – “Yeah, I can take care of that, but I’m on the other line addressing another issue right now. Submit a ticket so I don’t forget, I have a terrible memory!”Email Request – Set up an auto-responder that says, “Thanks for your message, if this is a support request, please <insert your preferred ticket submission process here> to ensure your issue is resolved as fast as possible. I only scan emails and could forget something if it’s not in our ticket system.”

Tape some signs up around the office

I didn’t want to make this recommendation. I hate when people put signs up in the office. The aesthetics bother me. I have a large laminate planning calendar that’s up on the wall behind my desk and I despise it. But when it comes to influencing behavior…signs work.We have a little sign in our office kitchen that says, “Please do not feed the wildlife. If you leave food out, they will come,” and there is an illustration of ants scrawling just above the quote. The sign is a little over the top, but it works. Every time I use a plate I wash it off and put in the dishwasher. Every time I open the bag of company trail mix, I reseal it.Therefore, if you’re worried about the traction of your new help desk, it wouldn’t hurt to put up a few signs that say something like,

“Need IT Help?
Submit a ticket at “

Refrigerator doors, microwave doors, and bathroom doors are great high traffic targets for a guerilla sign campaign. You might want to get the approval of your office manager first. They can get all fussy when you put up signs that aren’t pre-approved.

Last lines of defense – email signature, voicemail, and white board

Here’s a couple of other ideas that can help increase helpdesk software adoption and compliance.

  1. Include a link to the helpdesk page in your email signatures (or include a description of the proper process to submit a ticket).
  2. Set your voicemail so that it mentions the ticket system in your greeting.
  3. Put a portable white board outside your cubicle or office space with instructions on how to submit a ticket.

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If this blog helped you out, you can return the favor by spreading the word using the social sharing buttons below or, even better, take a test drive of our help desk software and let me know your thoughts.

Thanks –
Ryan

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