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Help Desk Agent Duties and Responsibilities

The specific duties help desk agents perform can vary greatly based on the product and industry they support. However, most employees in this role perform these same general tasks no matter what industry they’re in:

Provide First-Level Support When customers call in to get support for a problem they’re experiencing, they get in touch with help desk agents first. These support employees provide first-level support for customers, which encompasses solving basic problems.

Escalate Complicated Problems If the problem is too complicated for the help desk agent to resolve on their own, they escalate it to tier two or tier three support teams. This escalation takes place either through call transferring or ticketing systems.

Follow Up with Customers When help desk agents escalate more complicated problems, the call ends without a final resolution for the customer. It is the help desk agent’s responsibility to follow up with the customer after the problem has been solved to ensure it was resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.

Track Call Performance Help desk agents track how well they do on each one of their calls with customers. This may include listening to previous calls and reviewing surveys left by the customer. After tracking the call performance, the help desk agent works on ways to improve their job.

Recommend Product Improvements Help desk agents are often the first employees to experience bugs or problems with the company’s product. As such, they are responsible for informing their supervisors and other relevant parties about common problems so they can be solved quicker.


Help Desk Agent Skills and Qualifications

Help desk agents are good at solving problems and working with customers. They handle upset customers with poise and can multitask efficiently. Help desk agents should have some experience in the technical support industry but typically don’t need more than a high school diploma to get hired. Successful help desk agents should also demonstrate the following skills:

  • Troubleshooting – help desk agents should be able to troubleshoot any problem that comes their way. This requires asking good questions and actively listening in order to determine the real problem the customer is facing
  • Technical expertise – having technical expertise in the industry in which they work is particularly helpful for help desk agents
  • Conflict management – help desk agents should be adept at conflict management, especially in real time. Since many customers call in upset, help desk agents should be able to calm them down easily
  • Communication – help desk agents are always on the phone with customers, so they should be excellent communicators, both verbally and in writing
  • Multitasking – providing technical support often involves juggling multiple tasks at once, and help desk agents should be skilled multitaskers

Help Desk Agent Education and Training

Employers typically don’t require successful help desk agent candidates to have any education past a high school diploma or GED. However, those with college degrees have more opportunity to advance in their role. When hired, help desk agents will usually go through job-specific training that teaches them about the ticketing system and preferred phone scripts.


Help Desk Agent Salary and Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the median annual salary for help desk agents at $52,000. This salary can vary greatly depending on experience and industry. Employees in the lower 10 percent make less than $37,000 per year, while the highest earners make more than $62,000 per year. Help desk agents may or may not be eligible for company benefits, mostly depending on their full-time or part-time status. If they do get benefits, help desk agents typically enjoy health insurance and vacation and sick time. Some companies require help desk agents to also sell products or services, and these help desk agents may receive bonus incentives for meeting sales goals. The BLS reports that this position is in a period of growth that is higher than average as compared to other industries. As technology continues to grow, help desk agents are needed more than ever.


Helpful Resources

If being a help desk agent intrigues you, reading through the following resources can get you started down this career path:

IT Specialist Help Desk Network – this resource is a LinkedIn group dedicated to discussion for help desk professionals. With over 30,000 members, this group provides a wealth of information for newcomers and experienced help desk agents alike

Getting an IT Help Desk Job for Dummies – navigating through the IT industry can be confusing, but this book helps you cut through all the fluff to get right to the point, using humor and practical knowledge to help you succeed

Powerful Phrases for Effective Customer Service: Over 700 Ready-to-Use Phrases and Scripts That Really Get Results – with over 700 phrases you can use in your help desk agent role, this book is an incredibly helpful resource. It contains a variety of real-life scenarios that can prepare you for interviewing and working as a help desk agent