by Michele Nachum
Published on 23 February 2012
No one wants to be ignored and as more people opt for "do it yourself" (DIY) products, they do run into trouble from time to time. Businesses that have taken the time to include a Help section or better yet a Help Desk, are in a good place to better connect with customers.
Now don't worry - the days of Help Desks with hundreds of "Time/Life" operators waiting to speak with thousands of customers are not necessarily the same business model as many small businesses are employing today. Many smaller businesses may just have a handful of agents on hand (and when I say "agents" that could mean any type of employee really). However, these businesses also use FAQ sections, whitepapers and more to make sure customers feel like they have the information they need.
iHelpDesk is an online and affordable solution that allows small businesses to easily set up a help desk website and offer their customers the guidance and insight they desire. The product works well, is very straightforward and only takes a little while to set up and get the hang of it.
What Does It Look Like?
iHelpDesk has an attractive and intuitive user-interface. Big bold blue backgrounds highighted with lots of pastels make the solution reasonably friendly and it is. It has a very simple instruction manuel of sorts on the right hand side of your screen to help you get started quickly and easily.
Like many other help desk apps, the product comes with various ways to reach out to customers from live agents to FAQs. I will say, this solution is not as robust as some and more chalk-full of tools than others at the price points it offers., But starting for free and going up to $8 a month for smaller businesses and up to $25 a month for those that have more agents and need more users - the pricing is advantageous especially if you don't need many bells and whistles such as online communities.
After signing up, iHelpDesk will help you to create a help desk website. Your URL could be http://yourcompany.ihelpdesk.com and once you have your site, you can add in users, company logo, heading style and even ticket rules. In addition, you can ask your customers to submit tickets via email to your website where the email will then be converted into a ticket. I found this option to work pretty well - fast and easy.
After you sign up with iHelpdesk, you will also get an email account. For example, if your site name is MLNComms (like mine - not live by the way), then you will have an email account firstname.lastname@example.org. Emails sent to this account will be automatically converted to tickets, although you can set up ticket or email rules to filter out non-ticket emails as well.
You will have a dashboard to help you manage and track your tickets so you can run your help desk site. The process is straight-foward and there is a very detailed Help section on iHelpDesk.com if you need additional guidance (which if you think about it is pretty important for a company that sells help desk software to have a good help sections). Once you receive a request for help from a user's email for instance, iHelpDesk allows your agents to hit reply to help the customer.
There are two types of tickets - requests and problems. Requests are your "straightfoward" issues and a "problem" is when there is a disruption in service. This labeling allows you to decipher the urgency of the request and determine what steps you'll need to resolve it.
Like other similiar solutions, iHelpDesk, allows you to keep track of the status of each ticket so the customer is not "forgotten." The tickets will be stored in your dashboard and from there you can edit their status such as "pending." You also can flag your tickets as urgent; assign your tickets to certain agents with particular skill levels and more.
The types of ticket statuses are the following:
Canned Responses or Autoreplies:
You can also add in canned responses - so that if there is a wait time - you can automatically have an email that goes back to your customer to let them know you are thankful for them taking the time to ask a question and that an agent will be with them "shortly" or within 24-hours, etc. While all of us get those type of emails from time to time, we are usually thankful that maybe someone has our request and might actually be working on it. Frankly there are times when I have waited days for an answer - but in that case - it is about managing your customers' expectations - which as a small company, is paramount if your resources are limited.
At the $8 and above subscription levels, iHelpDesk offers a time tracking feature - which basically clocks how long it takes an agent to help a customer. This will allow you more insight into how long an agent spends on certain subjects and allows you to make decisions on how to approach issues if an agent spends too much time for instance.
You can design an FAQ section on your help website that might save time. If a user has a question, they might be able to find the answer on the FAQ page and this will save you time if you only have a few agents on staff. On your FAQ, iHelpDesk will allow you to attach documents such as instructions, whitepapers, brochures and more.
Like other help desk applications in the cloud, iHelpDesk offers a myriad of helpful options beyond the ticket management process. For instance, you can add on a Single Sign On feature so a user can log into iHelpdesk account automatically after being authenticated by your company's web site.
Other features include the ability to generate reports so you can track the progress of your help desk site and determine such aspects as the nature of your tickets, how many tickets you have received, the time it takes to solve the issues, etc. In addition, iHelpDesk has the ability to set a "service level agreement," otherwise known as SLA's. A service level agreement is sort of like contractual commitment to meet specific goals and from there you can also track any violations.
Is it for you?
iHelpDesk is fairly straight forward help desk app for small business. I think that for smaller businesses that require a simple and straightforward solution in the cloud, iHelpDesk is a good alternative. The pricing is very affordable and for the most part, you are getting similar features than in more robust and expensive solutions. What I found lacking was the ability to create any kind of online community where users can "talk" to one another such as Wikis. That said, the solution works flawlessly and provides the necessary tools needed to create a respectable help desk website.
Ratings: ease of use 4/5, features 4/5, value 4/5 and ease of deployment 4/5