If you run a computer support business or manage an IT help desk center, then you will know that IT support includes more than just fixing computer problems. Every problem represents a symptom that could signify a much larger system failure. Multiple problems that all match also pinpoint software bugs that might have been missed during testing.
One of the best ways to track and analyze all problems is through centralized help desk software. With such a system, you not only track computer or system problems, you also track which members of your staff took care of the tickets, a log of which customers or clients use the help desk most often, and it provides a great high-level overview of how well your IT staff is managing problems.
One of the best free help desk software solutions I’ve found that can handle the same functionality as some of the more expensive counterparts out there is the Close Support Service Desk.
Setting Up Close Support Service Desk
The software is called “service desk” rather than “help desk” because it’s actually useful for more than just IT issues. If you run any service at all that includes clients or customers calling you up about problems, you could use this software to track those issues. Maybe you run an electronics repair service, a plumbing business or any other field that includes troubleshooting and repairing problems. This software can help you remember, track and analyze those problems, especially if you have a team of technicians working for you.
When you first set up the software, you’ll find that it asks you where you want to access the system database. Close Support utilizes Access Runtime, and the background database, called CloseSupportBE.mdb, stores all of the data for the system. To allow distributed users to access this system for entering, managing and closing trouble tickets, just store the database on the local network. If you want to use it over the Internet, just set up an online “hard drive” like Dropbox and store the central database on that account.
The one annoyance if you use the free software is an initial box that pops up when you load the software, where you need to click “Continue” to decline signing up for the free trial. Once you get into the software, you’ll see four major areas.
At the top (1), you’ll find quick search fields and buttons to create a new Call incident, or create a new Task for one of the staff (or yourself). Tasks can be assigned to a particular problem and a particular technician. The Service area on the left includes active Tasks (2) and active Calls (3). On the right side of the main screen you’ll see calls sorted by assignee, status and priority (4).
Entering details whenever a problem call (or email) comes in is as simple as using the various dropdown boxes to select the priority and the category of the problem. A box to the right allows for specific information about the problem.
Once the call is in the system, it will stay in the “live” area until it’s either resolved or cancelled. Once there’s an active problem, every change in the system automatically gets logged in the call “history” area.
Adding a new task is a useful way to create and monitor jobs for employees that may or may not be related to specific problems that were called in. You can even set particular tasks on a recurring basis, so the system can be used for work scheduling as well as fielding problem calls.
From the navigation bar on the left, if you click on companies you can see all of the clients that you’ve done work for. This is where you can manually enter new companies, and fill in all of the contact information. When you click on the company from within tasks or calls, it links to this detailed information so you can easily get contact information from within the call or task display.
The same goes for people, whether those are individual clients or the employees doing the work. Enter all details here, and for employees, this is where you assign their username to use the Service Desk system. The nice thing is that whenever you use a customer name in a ticket you have instant access to their contact details.
Finally, another useful feature of the system is that you can export calls or tasks (either active or archives) into an Excel spreadsheet that you can use to create your own reports or just to create your own archive of resolved issues.
There are plenty of uses for this free Help Desk software beyond just IT technicians. You can use it to manage and organize just about any business that has to fix or troubleshoot problems. Give it a shot and see if it streamlines your own business!
Let us know what you think of Close Support Help Desk, or if you know of any similar tools that are just as helpful. Share your insight in the comments section below.
Image credit: Carlos Chavez
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