Last week, I had to contact the support desk for one of the apps I use. This is not a step I undertake lightly, since it ranks among my least favorite things to do, for reasons that will become clear.

Here’s what happened, and why I dislike most support desks I’m forced to deal with.

First, the initial response made it clear that the person assisting me did not understand my issue. Since I had taken the time to explain exactly what was happening, what version of the software I’m using, my operating system and relevant hardware configuration, this was frustrating to me.

I shot back a reply, again stating the problem and why the previous solution (which I’d already tried) did not work.

And then I waited several days to hear back. I finally had to send a third message to get the issue resolved.

Here’s how they (and you) can create a more helpful helpdesk.

1. Aim for a single touch resolution, and provide all the information needed to resolve the issue.

Don’t just send the link to the members’ area, include their user name and password, too. Don’t say, “You’ll find the link in the menu,” include the direct link in your response. And rather than saying, “You can download your purchase from our shopping cart,” attach the files.

My help desk encounter would have been much more positive if they had thoroughly understood the issue and provided the second response first.

Note that sometimes providing all the information means including the things your customer should already have, such as their user name and password. Make it easy for your customer. Don’t make them work for it.

2. Use screenshots and videos to better explain things.

Not everyone will read your incredibly well-worded and thorough responses. They’ll skim it, just like you’re skimming this blog post. (Don’t pretend it isn’t true—we both know you’re doing it.)

So along with your written explanation, take the time to grab a screenshot or a quick video. It will help your customers better understand how to fix the issue, and they’ll love you for it.

My support ticket response in the above example did include a video clip, so they got that part right. Too bad it was the wrong one.

Snagit from TechSmith makes videos and screenshots super easy. You can even upload your images and videos to their server for easy sharing, or directly to your YouTube account.

3. Listen.

What are the most common questions and concerns your customers have? If more than one customer reports the same problem, take that as an opportunity to change your processes to create a better customer experience. Be sure you have a system in place to track repeated issues.

Pro tip: Use the tagging function in your help desk to track related requests/tickets, and when you’ve fixed the underlying issue, send out an update letting your customers know.

4. Don’t be afraid to say “no.”

No person (or business) can be and do everything. Never be afraid to tell a prospect that you’re not up to the task, or that you don’t offer that specific service. Just don’t stop there.

Instead, take another look at step 3 and recommend other, more appropriate resources. Sometimes that will mean sending a customer to your competitors, and that’s ok.

Remember, your goal is to help your potential customers, even if that means turning them away. (Bonus points if you send them by way of your affiliate link, though.)

5. State the FAQs

Most questions can be answered with a FAQ page. The trouble is, many of your customers won’t know where to find that. They’ll very likely contact you by email instead, and never see that beautifully laid out and formatted page that answers all their questions.

What’s a helpful help desk to do? Well, for starters, you can include the most important FAQs in your auto response. Rather than simply saying “we’ve received your support ticket and we’ll get back to you within the next 24 hours,” you can instead add, “Here are the answers to some of our most commonly asked questions.”

For many of your clients, this will be enough to solve the issue, and they won’t have to wait for a real human to respond.

How does your help desk stack up against these five best practices? Do you go above and beyond for your clients, or are you just doing the bare minimum? If you need a helping hand, check out our fully managed help desk services. We’ll be glad to take care of all the details, and ensure your support system is as helpful (and profitable) as possible.