To Helpdesk or not to Helpdesk

Posted In: General Chat 

To Helpdesk or not to Helpdesk…That is the question!

Hello and welcome to this week’s newsletter. Although I suppose it’s not really a newsletter is it, the correct term would be “ezine” but I think that newsletter sounds better, plus it doesn’t throw up a typo in MS Word every time I type it 😉

That’s enough foreplay for now; let’s jump straight into the good stuff. This week I am going to be looking at the importance of a helpdesk system, and I after you have read through the article I would like you to tell me if I should go for a helpdesk system or stick with my email support!

I recently saw the thread below on a popular marketing forum:

Having read through the post I get the impression that sellers are in favour of a helpdesk system but buyers would prefer direct email communication.

As a seller I am currently using email support for all of my projects – no helpdesk! However email is now becoming more and more unreliable what with all of the Spam filters now in place, you can never be 100% certain that an email you sent out has reached the recipient.

Also, from a sellers perspective the amount of Spam received on a daily basis can actually make you miss out on genuine emails. At the time of writing I have been online for just under 3 hours today, but take a look at the screenshot below and look at how much Spam is already entered my inbox:


As you can see there are a few spoof ebay and paypal emails in there so it is getting increasingly more difficult to find the genuine ebay and paypal emails.

So, how would a helpdesk improve my customer service? Well for a start I wouldn’t have to worry about the problems above, the helpdesk would mean no more Spam for me and no more messages getting lost in the crap! The helpdesk would also keep a record of the conversation between the seller and the buyer in one centralized system. This is invaluable when you consider that some email clients don’t include the original email body in the “reply to” emails.

Can you imagine the conversation below, I’m sure it will ring a bell if you sell online:

Sent on Monday by buyer:
Hi, I have lost my password, please resend.

Sent on Tuesday by seller:
Hello, please can you give me your paypal email address

Sent on Friday by customer:

But the customer doesn’t include the original email with his message, so I receive an email saying but why is he sending me the email address? It’s now been 3 days since our last correspondence and I have forgotten why he sent me his address.

I then have to reply and ask why he sent me his address, he then gets angry because he thinks I am “fobbing him off” and both parties are unsatisfied with the service.

A ticket system would keep track of all correspondences between both parties so it would defiantly help overcome that problem!

Going back to the original Warrior Forum debate, the main reason people are anti-helpdesk seems to be the quality of support received, not the actual helpdesk. But wouldn’t the support be as bad if they used email instead of tickets? At the end of the day it would be the same person/people replying to your email!

From my experience I have had both good and bad support from both email and ticket systems. I don’t think the ticket system automatically equates to rubbish support!

So, my question to you is this:

“As a customer do you prefer a helpdesk or email support?”

Looking at it from a sellers (me!) point of view I am currently leaning towards getting a helpdesk system in place but I would like to hear your (the customers) views.

Please leave your replies in the comments section; I look forward to reading them!

Thanks for reading,

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12 Responses to “To Helpdesk or not to Helpdesk”
  1. Sinita says:

    I haven’t had any problems with Help Desks and I do find easier from a buyers point of view cos I can’t always keep up with which emails I have sent to whom and it’s great that you can just log in and see the whole history of your particular problem.

    What I don’t like, however, are those help desks where you have to sign up and log in every time you want to submit a support ticket.

  2. Mieke Janssens says:


    I recently have been asking myself the same question – do I choose for email support or help desk.

    As a customer I’ve always prefered email support, as I don’t like the whole ticket-ID – idea. But, like you’ve said in your article, what I prefer most is good support. When the support is good, it doesn’t really matter how you get it.

    I’ve just changed to help desk support myself. I have the feeling I’ve made the right decision. I can always go check for previous messages, no spamming, and whenever I want to I add my email address to a ticket, so I can continue a ‘conversation’ through regular email.
    And the ticket ID is included in every message 😉

    I’d say – go for it!

    Mieke Janssens

  3. LeRoy Martinez says:

    My experiences with helpdesks have not been good. I have an ebook written and I sent an email to this self described ‘straight shooter’ with the subject matter and the number of pages etc. I was looking for help in getting this ebook published. They sent an acknowledgement and ticket number and that was the end of that. My followup email got dead silence. Months later I bought an ebook from this same person and it was not what i thought it was. I requested a refund and got an acknowledgement and ticket number. A week or so went by and I sent an email and mentioned the fact that I did not appreciate being ignored. I also mentioned the earlier problem and that maybe the only way to get an answer was to send it through one of their ‘good buddies’. Finally I got an answer stating that they did not know what happened and then they followed up with a refund..
    This was my most memorable encounter with a help desk.
    Generally speaking I have had better luck with email help and it has always been faster than helpdesks.

  4. Dan (el_passo) says:

    Thanks for all the comments so far.

    Sinitta – I agree with you about the desks that require you to log in. I am not a fan but for some reason a lot of the one’s I have looked at have this feature as standard 🙁

    Mieke – Can I ask which helpdesk system you wqent for?

    Leroy – That sounds like a problem a lot of people were having in that warrior forum thread. It sounds like the person you were dealing with had some bad custromer service issues that need to be resolved -a business is nothing without the customers!

  5. Kelly Ifrah says:

    Hi Dan,

    I recently moved from e-mail support to helpdesk support as I have the same ‘spam’ problems as you.

    I asked my subscribers after a month if they had noticed the change and the responses I got were very positive as they have the same support as they had before, only now, as Sinita said, there is a log of all the ‘toing and froing’ without it clogging up your e-mail client.

    I also chose one that didn’t ask people to log in as I found having to create yet another account scared people off when they had genuine problems.

    I have a script for it if you are interested, you can contact my via my Helpdesk, located at (lol)

  6. Dan (el_passo) says:

    Thanks Kelly,

    I have actually worked on one of those VIP Helpdesks before, they are surprisingly user friendly and as you said you don’t need to log in to post a ticket!

    I have been looking at this:

    But the price is putting me off!

    I also looked at Perl Desk but I don’t like the fact they make you log in before you are able to submit a ticket.

  7. Pat Graham says:

    I absolutely detest “ticket” help desks. I much prefer email
    support and have always received superb service of varying
    types from you, Dan. I must say that you are always there
    when I needed help. I always have to say that you are not the
    normal seller in the help question.

    I’ve filled out help tickets for many products and services that
    are promoted as “top quality” and are actually well known. A
    good number of them require opening an account, which
    always irritates me. If I buy a product, regardless of what it is,
    I feel discounted when there is an invisible layer between me
    and the person who sold it to me.

    I’ve run into circle-jerks with the ticket syster…having to open
    an account, send that request and have to do the circle again and again. I won’t even go into the help processes that have email
    addresses that do not exist.

    Another thing that sets my hair on fire is talking to a “techie”
    in India or someplace who has to put me on hold after every
    comment and then breathlessly come back on like he had to
    run across the room to get a look at the error solution book
    and run back to pick up the phone. I also cannot stand the
    endless apologies for putting me on hold and more than
    endless apologies for putting me on hold when he picked up
    the phone again…makes the call last hours.

    So, to end this rant…I prefer email contact, but wouldn’t mind
    ticket systems that actually worked. I’ve found few that do.
    Yes, I woke up cranky this morning.


  8. Pat Graham says:

    One minute after I posted my rant above, I got this email message from a help desk ticket account I opened last night after clicking “Contact Us.”
    Thank you for registering to use the online help desk system, should
    you ever experience any difficulties please login and submit your request and a member of staff will assist you as soon as possible. If the administrator has selected to approve new accounts you should recieve the outcome of your registration shortly

    I wonder what that last sentence means…drives me crazy. I always thought that “Contact US” meant that you contacted someone, not some invisible robot…still cranky…Pat

  9. barney says:

    Issue/resolution tracking, by date, customer, product, etc.;
    statistical capability;
    standard format;
    standard categories.

    more likely to be ignored than email;
    another place to go look, to log in;
    most don’t key off email to provide other particulars;
    most don’t provide instant (e.g., email) record of problem;
    perceived ‘remoteness’.

    Those were the things we came up with when discussing help desk software at a department in MCI about a decade ago, after three months of research. The phone help desk was being overwhelmed with calls, and this was thought to be a way to alleviate the traffic. Idea was that all non-emergency items would be ticketed.

    I ended up writing a web-based system with ASP & SQL Server … the field guys used it, but they didn’t like it, and that last con was the reason. They felt as though no one was dealing with their issues. Wasn’t the case, but that was the way they _felt_, ya know?

    First change I had to make was to provide an instant email back to them *with their original text*, not just a ticket number. 2nd change was to key their personal data out of a personnel database, tied to their email. After that it worked, kinda, sorta, but nobody ever really liked it.

    Phone or email contact was felt to be much more personal; the ticketing system, to be remote, uncaring, insensitive. Perceptual difference only, but that was what broke the back of that system within a year. The ticketing system worked fine … management loved it … but they ended up expanding the phone desk in order to avoid a revolt of the field folk .

    Worth thinknin’ ’bout.

    Make a good day …
    … barn

  10. Sinita says:

    I think it all boils down to – the help desk is only as good as the person/people running it. If you are good at answering your support emails, why on earth would you not be good at answering your support tickets?

  11. Dan (el_passo) says:

    Pat – I don’t like the sound of:

    If the administrator has selected to approve new accounts you should recieve the outcome of your registration shortly

    It sounds like the admin can pick and choose which customers to reply to! I have never seen that in a ticket system before, approving accounts before giving support.

    The phone support can be annoying, although I’ve had problems with UK based phone support as well, it isn’t just the indian call centres. Last year when i called BT I was on hold for almost 30 mins waiting for an operator to pick up. Last week I needed to call BT and Sky phone support and both picked up after a few rings (after going through all of the push 1 for….etc) so it looks like standards are being raised.

    Barney – It sounds like you have a lot of experience with help desk systems. Thanks for sharing them with everyone.

    Sinita – I 100% agree with you. Nothing more to say 🙂

  12. Elaine says:

    I realize that from both the seller’s and customer’s point of view, an accurate tracking system for enquiries/correspondence would be most helpful. My main concern is that most sellers who change over to a ‘HelpDesk’ system also state that they will no longer answer regular email enquiries.

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to offer the option to subscribers to use either reguar email or the HelpDesk? Surely a request to “reference previous correspondence” in the body of the email would be honoured by most people, for they too would want to be able to maintain the ‘trail’ of correspondence. If someone didn’t comply with that request when emailing, then the reply could be something along the lines of “As you haven’t supplied the original theme of your request I cannot refer back to it, so would you be so kind as to submit a HelpDesk ticket so that your request can be tracked and the situation resolved as quickly as possible – here is the link for the HelpDesk – I look forward to resolving this issue for you”.

    Just a thought!


    PS: I too have submitted a ‘HelpDesk’ ticket and received what was obviously an automated replay saying my ticket had been received and I would hear back shortly – but never heard back!