Help for the helpdesk

I have been supporting clients for a number of years. When I say “clients”, I generally mean end-users within an organization. Often the organization is education — I think frequently that clients are staff, faculty, students, and as of late more families and parents.

Years ago I was able to get into Zendesk as a helpdesk system. A very flexible and robust solution. I used it a lot with a small team of a few techs and a broader base of “clients” 200 staff. During those first years, I connected with a number of others in the NYC area and found new ways Zendesk was being used and the exponential numbers of clients others were dealing with.

While we had maybe a couple of hundred tickets a month, others were seeing 10k PLUS. Zendesk could hand it all — route tickets and allow a quick and seamless workflow.

I used Zendesk for the next 10+ years and found some limitations, but when bumping up against something that it could not do, we could customize or “plug-in” a solution that would give us what we needed. This of course added to the bottom line and is not possible for all organizations.

Over the last year, I have been working in a new educational environment with Web Help Desk which works and continues to be tweaked, but shows a limited investment in UI and UX. We started looking again.

I gravitated to Zendesk (it is what I know) but we found an education-focused solution called IncidentIQ (IIQ). With built-in asset tracking, a fresh UI, and some nice integrations, we have been moving towards launching this for our community.

I have been focused on this for the last few months. I found a number of areas that IIQ does really well (check-in and out for inventory can be rather smooth) and basic ticketing, “actions” and quick resolution are at your fingertips.

What I have found challenging are ways to customize the design of the workflow and “client-facing” pages. The terminology is frustrating at best (issues, models, model categories). When trying to refine a workflow, the icons and images make the system very friendly but often overwhelming.

As of this writing, I have gone through, disabled many “issues”, and believe this may be the best way to work with the extensive list of possible categories that an issue could fall into.

Right now we keep getting stuck trying to make the system make the most sense for the most users so we can roll this out and get buy-in. We feel that the flow will cause many people to drop out of the helpdesk and just send an email…

For an education-focused product, IIQ needs to take a few lessons about not being a helpdesk for ALL of Edu but allowing the individual Edu’s build the areas they need and their community would best appreciate and understand.

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