Helpdesk support: The unsung hero
There’s nothing more frustrating than bad customer service, whether you’ve been left on hold for an hour, passed around from person to person, or simply can’t get through.
When the problem isn’t your fault in the first place, trying to sort it out and getting nowhere can be exasperating beyond measure.
Part of providing a good employee benefits programme is getting your employees to use it, and they won’t do that if they have reason to be disappointed with the service. Some providers skimp on their aftersales service, which often results in members becoming disillusioned with the value of the programme and subsequently disengaged.
Customer support is an invaluable part of scheme success, because it’s the only voice that your staff can identify as being responsible for the programme. Especially as employees associate their employer with the service, you’ll want the Helpdesk support to be as helpful and professional as possible, in order not to lose face as an organisation.
When you’re choosing an employee benefits provider, make sure you pick one that understands how fundamental good helpdesk support can be. ‘Everybody needs the option to call up and speak to a person sometimes’ remarked Jane Lowther, MD at HelpYouHome. ‘It’s the human element of the support process and no amount of automated help can replace that’.
Particularly if some or all of your employees don’t have computer access at work, a helpdesk could be the only way for those members of staff to purchase vouchers and make use of the service at all. A provider whose helpdesk isn’t open out of office hours will be little or no use to full-time staff who aren’t internet-savvy. Sophia Andrew, Head of Operations at Asperity Employee Benefits explained:
‘We know from experience how much our clients’ employees appreciate being able to speak to us when it’s convenient for them. We’re open after hours in the evenings, and on all weekends and bank holidays – not only does this reflect retail opening hours but it shows that we understand that your employees have different working hours and shift patterns; not everybody can call between 9-5 Monday- Friday! They can call us 364 days a year (we only close on Christmas Day), and we always make sure we have plenty of cover at peak times such as weekends and public holidays.’
It can also be really confusing to have different helplines for different aspects of your benefits package. Calling up the discounts helpdesk only to have them give you another number to call for childcare voucher enquiries is not ideal. You need the operator on the end of the line to understand your benefits package as a whole, so staff can chase up missing Cashback and change their childcare provider at the same time.
The easier it is to resolve any queries, the fewer barriers stand in the way of your employees engaging with the programme. Call centre management sometimes gets ignored when putting new benefits in place, but it’s a pivotal foundation of a good benefits provider – especially if you’re communicating with an offline workforce. It’s essential to provide a customer service function that humanises the support process, and is available when your employees want to call.