Tricks Of The Trade: Help Desk Help!

By B. Kevin Folsom, CEP
Published in the May 2014 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

QDo you use a facilities help desk? If so, what types of tasks are included in the system? We are a relatively small operation, handling about 150 calls each month across three sites. We use a help desk to log, prioritize, and manage jobs. It is also a communication tool to let people know where we are with their request. However, administrating the help desk can be time consuming, and with limited resources, I am wondering if there are any tools or approaches we could be using to be more effective.

Office Facility Manager
Louisville, KY

A Facilities management requires a high degree of communication and expectation management. Your constituents rely on you to provide everything they need related to facilities, and these services are delivered from your staff and many contractors. A facilities help desk is instrumental to meeting the communication and expectation needs, and yes, it takes a lot of time. If you don’t do it, someone else in the organization will have to.

Bio picture for B. Kevin Folsom, CEP.
All questions to Folsom have been submitted via the “Ask The Expert” link.

Since you did not say technically what setup you currently have, you may already do some of these, but here are a few suggestions for you.

  1. Implement a web based work order system. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on this nowadays, especially for small operations. The minimum requirement is the requestor needs to submit their need online and be able to look it up to find out if it was completed or not. Preferably, it should also e-mail the requestor when the job is done.
  2. Provide a high level of reliability by having an actual person answering the phone. If on the rare occasion someone does not answer the phone, provide a way for someone to get in touch with a live person for emergencies, such as “press 1 for an emergency” and transferring the caller to another extension or cell phone. Another approach is to create a pool of people who can answer the phone.
  3. If you can fit it in your budget, hire a secretary to be stationed at the help desk. This person may simply say to the caller, “Go online and submit a work order,” but the caller will go away happy because they talked to a live person.

A secretary in this position can also perform a host of other tasks, such as composing e-mails for you, keeping track of outdated work orders, triaging incoming work orders, and ensuring that higher ups can get in touch with you quickly. When hiring someone, you might also consider partnering with another department that could also use a help desk.