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When your helpdesk needs help

Julie-HulmeYour helpdesk is there to aid people in solving problems and letting your business operate efficiently. But what about when your helpdesk has issues and isn’t working properly? Julie Hulme, business development manager, FM sector for telephone answering specialist, Moneypenny, examines how you can make life easier for your helpdesk team

As a central hub for all things FM, the way you operate your helpdesk is fundamental to the overall smooth running of your business. There may be times though when you are struggling to capture all the calls coming into it, or indeed to your general reception/switchboard and would welcome a helping hand. Outsourced telephone answering support could be the answer and increasingly FM businesses are recognising the benefits of securing a provider to take overflow calls during the daytime along with calls out of hours and overnight.

Whatever issues a business faces internally, the challenge is on to provide a consistent telephone response delivering spot on results every time. Staffing can present a particular headache with the responsibility in many cases to be available 24/7 and in others to cover extended business hours. With this in mind, businesses large and small are looking to outsourced solutions to support in-house teams to increase efficiency, improve service, make cost savings and add overall value.

It’s an important step for any business to make the decision to either fully outsource its switchboard or seek assistance in responding to overspill calls that would go otherwise unanswered – so it’s not a decision to be taken lightly.

Times have certainly changed though and outsourcing is no longer a dirty word with smart businesses understanding that they can’t always do everything themselves, while recognising the many issues that can affect day-to-day operational continuity. In the FM arena, as many others, there is greater recognition than ever that in order to perform well in core competencies, outsourcing solutions via experienced partners can mitigate any in-house shortage of resource, skill or expertise. In addition, businesses need to be prepared for the vagaries of issues such as call peaks and troughs, staff holidays, unplanned absences, resourcing around night working, emergencies and potentially more serious technical failures. All businesses need to be confident that in the event of a telecoms outage or other communication breakdown affecting its ability to handle calls, a robust disaster recovery plan is in place. An off-site partner can respond immediately, handling calls until the problem is resolved.

Finding the right outsourced partner, to support your helpdesk or general reception activity, needs careful consideration. Telephone answering differs from many other operational functions in its immediacy, sometimes urgency, and the weight of responsibility it carries as front-of-house for your brand when dealing with external calls. As with any positive outsourcing relationship, success going forward begins with the due diligence undertaken by both the client and the supplier at various stages of the process, allowing both parties to have a comprehensive understanding of the client’s business objectives and requirements, while establishing the level of cultural and organisational fit between the two. The latter is particularly important when it comes to telephone answering to ensure the necessary seamless interaction is undetectable to the caller.

Help-desk-300x159In my previous incarnations, working within the facilities functions of large companies, I have witnessed first-hand the difficulties in resourcing for consistent telephone cover. Capturing every call while factoring in call volume variations and the scenarios already described above, can be a real headache. I have actually witnessed staff being hastily driven from one office location to another to provide cover for a couple of unexpected hours.

It’s hugely beneficial for businesses to take the pressure off and embrace additional support. Think about outsourcing as a real solution that works. It’s a flexible and usually highly cost-effective way of delivering a 24/7 premium service to complement your existing team; guaranteeing all calls are answered, while leaving you firmly in control.

Here at Moneypenny we have a growing number of FM clients seeking both overflow and fully outsourced switchboard solutions, with our Moneypenny receptionists based in Auckland, New Zealand, taking UK calls from 8pm to 8am our time, ensuring we are always answering the phone bright and breezy in the daytime, whether it’s 3pm or 3am.

As an example of how these principles can be put into practise, a building maintenance solutions company, with 50 engineers on the ground covering 300 individual sites, approached Moneypenny for support with daytime ‘overflow’ calls and out of hours call handling.

The business was operating with a team of eight people rotating cover on its helpdesk facility during normal office hours Monday to Friday. Out-of-hours, phones were being diverted to a contact centre but the service hadn’t been meeting expectations as there was no dedicated receptionist taking calls and no reporting information available. The process for out of hours phone calls at that stage involved calls going through to an engineer with the phone being allowed to ring three times on three occasions before a text would be sent to another named individual. Whilst the costs were relatively low the service was poor and not meeting the business needs.

The company was expanding rapidly with a growing staff base and operational sites split across a number of counties. To cover all the geography, engineers were regionally based with two call-out rotas; one for the south region and one for the north. In addition to requiring daytime overflow support, the company had also identified a need for fully outsourced telephone call handling, requiring a different approach, from 5pm to 8.30am Monday to Friday and from 5pm Friday through to 8.30am Monday.

Overflow calls are now picked up by Moneypenny with any calls for employees based at the company’s main offices announced and put straight through. Any calls for the helpdesk are answered and a message taken then forwarded to the helpdesk for them to respond directly.

Out-of-hours calls now all come through to Moneypenny with Moneypenny receptionists asking for any details, the site location and postcode. The Moneypenny client management system stores this information together with the name of the corresponding engineer the call has been directed to. Moneypenny filters out any non contract clients to ensure the call is forwarded to the relevant engineer. If he/she is unavailable, the issue is then escalated in agreement with the company. If no one is available a message is taken and the call marked as either urgent or non urgent.

All call data with full call history, individual call records and daily reporting, is available online anytime if any information needs to be checked or management reports drawn down.

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