A help desk is a well-established method for providing performance support on a top-down basis. To avoid the help desk being overwhelmed with queries, it’s important that it is not used by employees as their first port of call in the event of difficulty. A good sequence would be:
- Receive training where necessary and available.
- Consult reference materials where these are available.
- If the reference materials don’t address your particular problem, check out the FAQs (frequently-asked questions) or past forum postings.
- If your problem hasn’t been documented so far, consider posting a query to the forum or, if you must have a fast response, contact the help desk.
- If the help desk can’t answer your query, have them put you in touch with the appropriate subject expert.
Help desks can operate by phone, by email, by some form of online instant messaging or via a web form. Typically they will be supported by software which issues ‘tickets’, prioritises requests, tracks progress and maintains statistics.
A help desk is:
- at its best when it is responsive to high priority requests, when backed up by FAQs and other performance support materials, when supported by help desk software, when accessible via a variety of media;
- best avoided when slow, poorly organised, used as a first port of call.