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help desk priorities

April 18, 2005

I found this link via It's a guys tribute to the worst help desk technician he knows, it's kind of interesting but not the point of this post. What I want to talk about is the screenshots of his help desks request tracking tool. Take a look:

It's obviously a simple Access Database, which I don't have a problem with but What I want to talk about here is priorities and urgency. You see these two fields in just about every commercial and noncommercial help desk application out there. As you can see here they default to medium. My guess is that they stay at medium most of the time. Right there that makes me a feel a bit like having both these fields is redundant and unnecessary.

Now if you think to the next step, let's say something is urgent. Well you would mark it urgent and most likely make it a high priority. Well wouldn't all urgent requests be a high priority by definition? OK let's take it the other way and say it's not urgent and in fact the help desk technician decides it's a low priority.

In all my time talking with users about their problems few would every classify them as low priority. They may not be urgent, but low implies that a leisurely pace can be taken with finding a resolution. So what I'm saying is that I just don't believe in prioritizing customer service requests. It ends up taking a bunch of time to figure out is this low, medium, high, low urgency, medium urgency, high urgency and in the end it usually just ends up being a guess by the help desk associate not a real indication of priority.

That's why in HelpSpot there's only one choice. A simple checkbox that indicates if the request is urgent or not. It's usually easy to tell if something is urgent or not (lots of yelling :-) ). I think it's going to be a time saver for the help desk team as well as making life a bit easier for level 2 support since they don't have to worry about what something marked priority medium high urgency means.

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