Business Help Desk System Management

Business Help Desk System Management

Kearsley (1988) offered one definition of help system: A help system is one or more programs designed to provide user assistance embedded in a larger program or computer system. Although designers frequently integrated help programs with the application, help systems might also be separate and run concurrently with the system (Kearsley, 1988). This definition was of narrow scope, in that it was oriented by computer programs, e.g. application-oriented.

With the pervasiveness of a diverse and heterogeneous range of software and hardware systems, an online help system serves as a gateway to all kinds of computing resources. For example, the online help system at UMBC provides services on a variety of platforms including Macintosh, Windows and UNIX, for heterogeneous software or applications such as Oracle, SAS, Mathematica, MATLAB, and the like. In this sense, a broad view of online help system should consider it to be a middle tier between computing resources and users. From organizational perspective, specifically in an educational institution, an online help system is a portal to users, integrating all available computing knowledge or skills for users.
Selfe and McGavin (1992) discussed the evolution of online help: from book-oriented, through exploratory, to constructive. Bookoriented online help mirrored paper-based documentation, which featured static and linear structure.

Although this traditional organization of contents was familiar to users, it was not quite competent for satisfying the complicated information needs of particular users in specific contexts for idiosyncratic tasks. Thus, came up hypertext-based online help, either exploratory or constructive. Exploratory online help was characterized by providing multiple paths to navigate a document, hence it granted a higher level of interactivity. Its weaknesses were unfamiliarity to users and difficulty to read through.

Constructive online help allowed customization by users, feedback to developers, and capability to re-conceptualize tasks (Selfe and McGavin, 1992). This online help conception evolved along the dimension of user-document interactivity. With the implementation of heterogeneous software and hardware, however, online help systems should be considered more from organizational point of view than from application-oriented perspective before. As will be illustrated later in our field study, some problems of online help systems stem from awkward integration among different applications, instead of failing to solve certain system questions.

Sondheimer and Relles (1982) proposed four dimensions wherein online help systems could be
(1) Access method. How users input help requests.

(2) Data structure. How the help information are organized.

(3) Software architecture. How users and the help systems interact.

(4) Contextual knowledge. To which extent the help information is relevant to the environment and the tasks of a specific user (Sondheimer and Relles, 1982).

Bergman and Keene-Moore (1985) argued that one shortcoming of this categorization was that these dimensions only took into consideration software related aspects, omitting user interface
related factors. To address this deficiency, they brought up a new taxonomy of online help (Bergman and Keene-Moore, 1985).

But these methods of classification were all limited in application viewpoint, either from system itself or human computer interactivity. We argue that organizational or human behavioral factors are also, at least of the same importance, in order to grasp what our users really want from online help systems. In this sense, we concern more about our field study process, for the sake of letting contextual data speak out by itself.
Covi and Ackerman (1995) investigated organizational impacts on online help by examining two help approaches: document oriented and computer-mediated communication (CMC). In document-oriented approach, they reviewed online manual, hypertext system and self-explanatory object. As for CMC, their work discussed electronic mail to experts, group forum and searchable archives. The contributions of this research were highlighting the organizational
issues inherent in online help systems, and examining a range of online help methods, thus granting a possibility of combining these help approaches.

This work also emphasized the reliability issues involved in CMC help systems, which relied ona decentralized negotiated problem solving process ( Covi and Ackermanm, 1995).

Although these empirical studies advanced theoretical evolution of online help systems, little work grounded online help systems into specific domains and more focused on human behavior issues on online help systems. Thus, we believe that it bestows us a research niche to examine online help systems in a specific domain: educational institution, and to resort to qualitative research method: field study.

According to Jamier L. Scott. (2002): “Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation.
Customer service may be provided by a person (e.g., sales and service representative), or by automated means called self-service. Examples of self service are Internet sites. However, In the Internet era, a challenge has been to maintain and/or enhance the personal experience while making use of the efficiencies of online commerce. Writing in Fast Company, entrepreneur and customer systems innovator Micah Solomon has made the point that “Online customers are literally invisible to you (and you to them), so it’s easy to shortchange them emotionally. But this lack of visual and tactile presence makes it even more crucial to create a sense of personal, human-to-human connection in the online arena.

To Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D, In their book Rules to Break and Laws to Follow, . wrote that customers have memories. They will remember you, whether you remember them or. not.Customer service is normally an integral part of a company’s customer value proposition.Further, “customer trust can be destroyed at once by a major service problem, or it can be undermined one day at a time, with a thousand small demonstrations of incompetence.”
From the point of view of an overall sales process engineering effort, customer service plays an important role in an organization’s ability to generate income and revenue. From that perspective, customer service should be included as part of an overall approach to systematic improvement.

Some have argued that the quality and level of customer service has decreased in recent years, and that this can be attributed to a lack of support or understanding at the executive and middle management levels of a corporation and/or a customer service policy. To address this argument, many organizations have employed a variety of methods to improve their customer satisfaction levels, and other KPIs.

Sage S.M. (2007) in his article, “development of information retrieval system”, stated that information retrieval system based on computer involves collection of people, procedure and equipment designed to collect record, process, store, retrieve and display information. He further highlighted that only system that contains digital computers as integral parts are considered, so that there could be a distinction between a manual system and a computer-based information retrieval system. It is important to state at this point that information retrieval system does not only bother on storage and searching but also involves information management for further decision making.
Engr. Fergus U. Onu (2006), in his book titled Computer systems and Technology noted that in all offices; no matter the type and the organization, the major work done there can find a place in information flow channel, which include: information/data collection, storing, retrieval, processing and communication. According to him, trying to run away from using the computers is like back-tracking to the days before civilization. No one person in this our wide world can do without the use of the computers. He advised that there is no need for one to feel alienated to the computer or to misrepresent it merely as that machine that its application threatens one’s job.

Instant Feedback
Recently, many organizations have implemented feedback loops that allow them to capture feedback at the point of experience. For example, National Express, one of the UK’s leading travel companies invites passengers to send text messages whilst riding the bus. This has been shown to be useful as it allows companies to improve their customer service before the customer defects, thus making it far more likely that the customer will return next time.
A challenge working with customer service is to ensure that you have focused your attention on the right key areas, measured by the right Key Performance Indicator. There is no challenge to come up with a lot of meaningful KPIs, but the challenge is to select a few which reflects your overall strategy. In addition to reflecting your strategy it should also enable staff to limit their focus to the areas that really matter. The focus must be of those KPIs, which will deliver the most value to the overall objective, e.g. cost saving, service improving etc. It must also be done in such a way that staffs sincerely believe that they can make a difference with the effort.

One of the most important aspects of a customer service KPI is that of what is often referred to as the “Feel Good Factor”. Basically the goal is to not only help the customer have a good experience, but to offer them an experience that exceeds their expectations. Several key points are listed as follows:

1. Know your product – Know what products/service you are offering back to front. In other words be an information expert. It is okay to say “I don’t know”, but it should always be followed up by… “but let me find out” or possibly ” but my friend knows!” Whatever the situation may be, make sure that you don’t leave your customer with an unanswered question.

2. Body Language/Communication – Most of the communication that we relay to others is done through body language. If we have a negative body language when we interact with others it can show our lack of care. Two of the most important parts of positive body language are smiling, and eye contact. Make sure to look your customers in the eye. It shows that we are listening to them, not at them. And then of course smiling is just more inviting than someone who has a blank look on their face.

3. Anticipate Guest Needs – Nothing surprises your customer more than an employee going the extra mile to help them. Always look for ways to serve your customer more than they expect. In doing so it helps them to know that you care and it will leave them with the “Feel Good Factor” that we are searching for.

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