The Value of Help Desk Certification
Browsing the Internet provides a wealth of help desk horror stories, ranging from customers who are confused by computer jargon to customers whose problems could be solved by simply dialing in or restarting their PC.
Reading such accounts might make you wonder about the inherent value of attaining help desk certifications, as such jokes are based on the ignorance of the average customer. Resolution of these issues would appear to require little more than a calm explanation of the basic functioning of a computer — a coupling of soft skills and knowledge that is in within the grasp of the average middle-school student. The “horror stories” on the Internet eschew the growing complexity of help desk issues.
In a white paper titled, “Investing in the Help Desk,” Karen Schoemehl writes that key ideas in maintaining help desk efficacy include “improving first contact resolution, lowering turnover, maximizing customer productivity and consolidating operations — all of which lower cost.”
When customers spend additional time contacting the help desk, the wasted time incurs high costs for the company. This cost includes both the immediate cost of lost productivity for an internal end-user and the cost of the loss of potential clients, whose frustration as first-time customers might cause them not to return, Schoemehl said.
One important skill is the ability to lower the intensity of the call. Customers’ frustrations often are amplified by a seeming lack of empathy on the part of the help desk professional. Customers need to know the professional is really listening to their concerns and is not just trying to get them off the line or out of the queue.
By establishing an amicable relationship with the customer from the outset, the tone for the rest of the encounter will allow for a smoother flow and less tension preceding resolution of the issue.
Having the requisite soft skills to address the concerns of an internal or external client is only one incentive to become certified in one or more help desk areas. At the very least, changing technologies require help desk professionals to maintain their skill sets. The path to best serving customers is paved by attaining certifications, no matter whether the certs are vendor-specific.
When a help desk professional cannot clearly or speedily assist customers, they will become frustrated and lose confidence in the help desk professional’s expertise. This loss of respect can be detrimental to job security. Obtaining certifications can boost a professional’s salary, and not having the knowledge certifications require might cause sloppy customer service, which might cost a professional his or her position.
Ultimately, help desk certifications provide knowledge and hands-on experience that might prove crucial to any number of potential customer conundrums. The ground to cover is vast: networks, hardware, software, soft skills, etc.
The ability to provide quality assistance relies not only on a professional’s mental acuity but his or her “people skills” while relaying the information. Part of that peace of mind will come from having experience with the situation. The previous exposure to hands-on experience has an undeniable value, in additional to the perks of higher earning potential and the proof of skills that help professionals land the job in the first place.