The Pros and Cons Of Automating Help Desk Tasks for Small Businesses

Whether running a startup or a more established outfit, small business owners have a lot to think about. When help is on hand in the form of automation tools, small businesses have a chance to improve their help desk experience for both customers and agents.

From ticketing to customer support to social media management, small businesses need plenty of resources, energy, and dedication to succeed. But rather than burden IT support teams or hire more staff, small business owners should consider the benefits of automating their help desk tasks.

Why Small Businesses Need Automated Help Desk tools

Automated help desk tools provide small business owners with the chance to improve both their internal and external communications. Through a single dashboard, help desk software brings the full range of communication channels together in one place. Then, automation provides the power behind better processes and workflows.

Automated help desk tools aim to strengthen customer relationships and improve the customer experience. What’s more, it can even empower teams to collaborate better, giving them insights on what is and isn’t working. Plus, with this data and knowledge, it’s easier for everyone to make positive improvements across all aspects of a business.

What Help Desk Features Do Small Businesses Require?

So, what are the key aspects small business owners should weigh up before investing in automated Help Desk Software? Here are a few to start with: 

Type of Technology 

Most help desk software is available via two delivery models: on-premises and SaaS (Software-as-a-service). SaaS is also known as cloud-based software. Cloud technology is more popular due to the range of benefits it offers over traditional software. As a subscription-based model, all costs are included and spread over months or years, depending on your needs. Suiting companies with smaller budgets such as small businesses.

Core Capabilities

It’s important to review the core functionality of help desk technology such as ticketing. Automation enables better tracking of queries, requests, and jobs such as:  

  • Tracking a ticket life cycle
  • Triggering alerts and notifications
  • Logging end-user calls
  • Managing ticket status 

Another core aspect is self-service. This is gaining popularity due to a customer’s increased desire to gain control and autonomy over buying decisions. 

Stats show that most customers prefer knowledge bases over any other self-service channel. This is because they can easily self-diagnose or solve problems more comfortably and with ease. Because it doesn’t need any help desk staffing, knowledge bases are also cheaper for business owners.

Relationship With Software Vendor

The relationship a small business has with a software vendor can often determine the success of the investment. For instance, a business may need a more ‘hands-on’ approach, with regular communication and engagement across stakeholders. Or, it may be more valuable to establish a proactive relationship on a consultative basis, where greater value can be obtained to support growth. 

Before embarking on any investment in software, small business owners should conduct a full analysis of their requirements. 

How Help Desk Software Enhances Customer Support Teams 

Providing agents and staff with automated help desk tools can bring many benefits to a small business. They include:

A Proactive Approach

Successful customer support teams take a proactive approach to customer experience. And customers respond to this well, with almost 70% thinking more highly of brands that display a proactive approach to service. Automating key communications such as push notifications, emails, feedback surveys, and new product launches will also take the strain off your teams while making customers feel valued and more committed to your business in the long term.

Save Time and Improve Efficiency 

One of the biggest benefits of marketing automation is the time saved from manual operation. This has far-reaching impacts on all aspects of a small business. For example, automation can prioritise tickets based on levels of urgency. This enables support staff to resolve problems quickly and efficiently. In gaining urgent resolution to problems, help desk agents are freed up to spend time and energy on maintaining a professional response to queries. This aspect also supports small business owners working towards metrics or targets within Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

Empower Support Agents

With automation running across the board, from ticketing to knowledge bases and FAQs, customer support staff become freed up to provide high-quality standards in customer care. Using the saved time can lead to faster, more immediate outcomes. Processing speeds increase with self-service help desks and attentive communication from chatbots answering customer queries 24/7. This both meets the demands of customers who want businesses to take care of their needs and releases time to deal with more customers. Plus, when 81% of customers say they base their buying decisions on customer reviews and ratings, maintaining a friendly, stress-free manner in customer engagements should be a priority. 

The Downsides of Using Help Desk Tools for Small Businesses

While it may seem like help desk automation can provide the answers to many problems, in reality, nothing can ever guarantee success. At least, not without the right approach, strategy, tools, attitude, and people. As a result, small business owners must be willing to make well-judged decisions when choosing to invest in any infrastructure. To help, here are some key factors worth considering before introducing automated help desk tasks:

Automation Must be Planned

The idea of automation may seem exciting, but in reality, every aspect must be planned. Why? Well, if things aren’t running well, customers won’t be happy. For example, if automated workflows aren’t tested often enough this could lead to customer frustration. When they receive irrelevant questions or prompts for items they didn’t ask for, it poses a risk to their loyalty. 

When nearly 80% of UK consumers said they received bad customer service in the past year, it is critical to get automations right. If not, they could harm future sales or even risk making things worse.

Be Wary of Shiny Features

Although features like Live Chat, SMS, and AI-powered Chatbots may sound like the perfect solution to your round-the-clock customer service needs, they don’t come without cost or complexity. One condition of AI chatbots, for example, is that they need a support system of their own. And these systems, as part of most SaaS products, need regular maintenance, testing and upgrading. So, it’s important not to overlook the conditions attached to these help desk features and scale in a manageable way. 

Automated Interactions Could Never Replace Human Ones

In reality, there is no technology available that can replace the power of human interaction with customers. And when over 70% of customers say they’d rather speak to a human than a robot, it’s important to get the balance right between in-person and technological interactions. Automations are great at prioritising tasks, workflows, and providing customers with extra points of contact to resolve queries. But what they’re not so good at is intuiting emotions and making customers feel good. 

Author Bio

Ryan Condon

Ryan is the Head of Content at Comparesoft, a B2B software comparison site. He is responsible for the production of all front-end content development and driving continued audience growth. Ryan joined Comparesoft in September 2019.

Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing addresses the technology needs of small businesses, which are defined as businesses with fewer than 500 employees and/or less than $7 million in annual sales.

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