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Utilize handhelds for helpdesk assistance

If you are using an online helpdesk, reach the users who can't get online by utilizing their handhelds.

I love how so many companies put their IT helpdesk hot issues on their internal Web site, and when you call the helpdesk for PC support, they answer the phone with a recorded greeting letting you know they sure would like it if you used their Web site to resolve your problem instead of talking to them on the phone. That's great except for all those people whose problem is that they can't "get on the network" or even "boot their PC" in the first place. Fortunately, hand-helds like PalmOS and WindowsCE devices have become ubiquitous enough in the workplace that you should consider using them to get your message out.

The simple way to do this is to create contact entries for your helpdesks. Nothing is more frustrating to users than being on the road, with the helpdesk phone number stored in their laptop (usually in an e-mail), but not be able to get to it because, for instance, they mistyped their password five times and their account is locked. But more than just the phone number, you can create custom fields and notes or memos associated with each entry. The custom field should say "READ NOTE BEFORE CALLING" and the note should have a list of your hot tips. For instance, "Did you try rebooting?" and "For the love of God, turn off your CAPS LOCK before typing your password."

Another good item to put in the custom field is a list of your helpdesk's IVR prompts. For instance, if you have to press one for password resets and two for e-mail support and three for SAP/ERP support, then put that info in the contact fields so that your users don't have to wait on the menus.

Don't forget to update these contact entries as your options and top issues change.

Tom Lancaster, CCIE# 8829 CNX# 1105, is a consultant with 15 years experience in the networking industry, and co-author of several books on networking, most recently, CCSPTM: Secure PIX and Secure VPN Study Guide published by Sybex.

This was last published in February 2005

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