The 13 Best Practices for IT Help Desks

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A stellar support desk does more than support—it helps scale your business.

So, your business is growing. Excellent! But are you increasing the resources necessary to deliver a superb customer experience as well?

Having a robust and responsive IT help desk is crucial. Now more than ever, your customers expect a seamless support process, and their loyalty often hinges on it. Here are the best practices for IT help desks to implement and prime your business for lasting success.

1. Use the Right Help Desk Software System

Without the right IT service management (ITSM) software, your help desk will be helpless. ITSM enables your help desk to receive service or incident tickets, manage assets, and report ticket resolution-rates and other metrics. A well-configured ITSM suite enables IT help desks to manage large volumes of tickets and — via self-service portal and other features — reduce call volumes and control IT support costs. The challenge is having enough resources to properly configure your ITSM suite and sustain the overhead of an actual service desk (e.g., payroll, equipment, etc.). BMC Helix and ServiceNow are both great choices for ITSM software.

2. Hire the Right Talent

IT help desk jobs aren’t always easy. You need the right people staffing your help desk. One way to ensure this is to get them HDI (Help Desk Institute) certified. Doing so will ensure that your support agents are operating using help desk best practices, especially in terms of customer service and asset management.

Helpdesk Best Practices

3. Build & Implement a Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Your IT help desk should operate according to a Service Level Agreement (SLA). Under an SLA, you can require your help desk team to solve a minimum percentage of tickets, respond to calls and support tickets, and other requirements. SLAs enable you to hold your desk team accountable and, in turn, ensure your help desk is working effectively to improve user satisfaction and customer service ratings.

4. Maintain Enough Capacity

An understaffed/overworked service desk will quickly lead to more problems. Make sure your team has the capacity to support your call/ticket volumes, but also the ability to respond to users/customers in different time zones or during off-hours and holidays. Need assistance with this one? We’re here to help!

5. Use Automated Ticketing Systems

A well-configured ITSM suite will include automated ticketing capabilities. However, the idea behind this is much broader. Be sure to look at automating as many manual, low-value tasks as possible to free up your agents to resolve IT problems.

6. Deploy Specialized Help Desk Groups

In some cases, you might need a dedicated help desk group to specialize or focus on a specific set of applications or IT best practices. For example, most of your team might use a certain application for their daily work, or you might have a critical IT system for which you want to prioritize support. The idea is to ensure you have the right people responding to tickets, not wasting time in escalation.

7. Use Pre-Drafted Responses

The goal behind pre-drafted responses is to remove your help desk staff from burning time on menial tasks. Ideally, when someone requests help, your ITSM suite should generate an automated response. You can go a step further by pairing canned responses with self-help support, such as directing the user to a self-help service portal, knowledge base, or FAQ to see if they can resolve the issue on their own.

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8. Be Available on Multiple Contact Channels

When it comes to IT help desk best practices, the importance of great communication cannot be overstated. You should be able to communicate with your help desk through live chat, phone, email, and as many other means as possible. The point is to provide maximum accessibility to IT help.

9. Grow Your Knowledge Base

Having to escalate an issue to more senior level reps is never ideal. Empower your service agents to expand their knowledge base and equip the entire help desk with the expertise and tools needed to solve any problem.

10. Aim for First Contact Resolution

When it comes to service desk best practices, focus on solving tickets on first contact. This will  minimize downtime or disruptions. In some cases, this may require providing a significant amount of training to each of your help desk staff. Yes, upfront costs will be high, but the strategy will pay dividends by reducing the impact of IT issues. Plus, first contact resolution (FCR) contributes to increasing customer/end-user satisfaction rates.

11. Follow-Up Resolved Cases

Your IT help desk should follow-up on closed/solved cases with a survey or feedback form. This is a great opportunity to collect information, assess your staff, and improve processes.

Best Practices for IT help Desk

12. Track Your Help Desk’s Performance

Your SLA should require your help desk to track its performance across key metrics, including:

  • ticket resolution rates
  • time to solve tickets
  • average pick-up/ticket response time
  • percentage of tickets still open/unsolved after a set amount of time
  • FCR rates
  • number of escalations to Level 2 and Level 3 support


By getting visibility into each of these areas, your help desk will identify gaps in its knowledge base and processes. In turn, it can improve through training, ITSM configuration work, or other methods and drive additional cost and time savings.

13. Keep Your Help Desk Employees Happy

As Andrew Carnegie once said, “There is little success where there is little laughter.” It’s imperative to prioritize the work-life balance of your employees while incentivizing them to improve their crafts. The end results will benefit all.

Need More Help in Controlling Your IT Support Costs?

Next Steps

It’s a natural cycle: As your business grows, so does the complexity and scope of your IT needs. But building an agile and effective IT help desk (and managing it) takes significant time and money.

If you need help desk ideas or a comprehensive solution, consider a managed IT services provider (MSP) like Buchanan Technologies. We have more than 35 years of experience providing world-class IT help desks to growing and established businesses. We provide faster ticket resolution times, higher resolution rates, and deliver 97%+ user/customer satisfaction rates with our IT Infrastructure Library-compliant processes and HDI certified teams.

Request a quote today for our managed IT help desk services and get support your business needs for sustainable success.

Interested in Managed Services for Your Organization?

Contact Buchanan Today.