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Making better use of the help desk

This month the FM Index KPI Survey, compiled by FMJ and Causeway, considers some of the trends around the use of help desks

As the primary interface between an FM department and its customers the help desk is clearly a vital tool in the FM toolbox. And, as with most other business activities, software has come to play an increasingly important role in the management of the help desk and the requests it receives.

Unsurprisingly then, the majority of organisations are using some kind of software to help manage their help desk and typically this will either be based on spreadsheets or a purpose-designed proprietary package. Over the years that the survey has been running the use of proprietary software has been increasing year-on-year and now seems to have plateaued at around the 75% mark, as indicated in Figure 1.


Fig.1 Use of proprietary help desk software

However, this doesn’t mean that the use of help desk software has stopped evolving. Indeed, there are indications that now the majority of FM departments have this functionality available they are applying it to a wide range of processes. In parallel, they are using the capabilities of such systems to improve customer service.

An obvious example of this is the ability to enable customers to access the help desk via the intranet so that they can log and monitor their own requests. This is clearly more convenient – for all parties – than having to call a staffed help desk. Consequently there has been a steady increase in the availability of this service in recent years. Figure 2 shows the percentage of respondents that make the help desk available through the intranet to more than 75% of their staff.


Fig.2  75% of staff have intranet access to help desk

“Taking advantage of the functionality of purpose-designed to help desk software helps to improve customer service as well as the productivity of the FM department.”

James Atkinson
Chief Operating Officer, Causeway

Nor is the functionality of the help desk confined to the management of reactive calls anymore; it is now being applied to a diverse range of functions. Figure 3 gives an indication of this diversity, with comparisons against 2012 figures, though fewer options were included in the 2012 questionnaire.


Fig.3 Uses of help desk

Managing PPM through the help desk
One area of integration that appears to be particularly useful is the management of planned preventative maintenance (PPM) tasks through the help desk. For instance, 48% of all respondents were managing to action more than three quarters of the maintenance jobs they had planned. For those that were managing PPM tasks through the help desk this figure rose to 56%.

This ability to deliver more planned jobs also seems to have a knock-on effect on customer satisfaction. Of those respondents that had carried out recent customer satisfaction surveys 19% were rated as average or above by more than 75% of their customers. However, for those that were completing more than three quarters of their planned jobs this satisfaction figure increased to 31%.

About Sarah OBeirne


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