Crossing the Line to a Help Desk

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This week I’ve felt like the person on the left, buried alive in my office! Thank goodness email is digital and I’m really not trapped under tons of paper. *grin*

It’s been coming… to say I should have done it 6 months ago would be an understatement.  I’m finally crying uncle and moving my email to a support desk system. I love GMail but it’s time to let go (at least for my business related mail).

Why?  Many reasons but what finally spurred me to take action this week was that my IP got listed in a blacklist and as anyone who’s dealt with this knows, it’s a nightmare and email doesn’t get through to where it should. I’m my own host so I can only blame me (don’t you love when you can’t pass that buck?) but I also know I never send spam and many people affected by blacklists don’t either.  I’ve learned this both from running a hosting company and from working with my various clients as a virtual assistant.  It’s just one of the more frustrating parts of doing business online.

Add to that, I haven’t been able to reliably reach anyone using Yahoo, Hotmail, or AOL mail for years because of their spam/bulk mail filtering, and it just adds up to needing an alternative that allows me to keep track of mail and the people I’m communicating with to communicate with me via web instead of email.

I’ve moved to Facebook/Twitter in attempts to get through the blacklists/spam filters which is somewhat working but it’s very unmanageable (the amount of Twitter DMs a day makes it impossible to keep up with well) and definitely not a solution.

So, I thought I’d share why I’m moving to a help desk as a solution in case anyone else is dealing with the same issues.

  1. Tracking — With a support ticket system each person who emails will get an immediate acknowledgment their email was received along with a link to where they can check in for updates or send additional info.  Every email I send/receive will be tracked in the system so I can easily search and reference previous emails as well as check dates or responses.
  2. Delegating — I’ve tried having my own VAs help me with email over the last year or two and we’ve never come up with a *good* system for it.  It just got confusing.  With a help desk we can assign emails to whomever is replying and helping with the email, and easily see all the replies in one place.  My VAs can login any time and work on replies from the web.  I can also setup templates, scripts, etc to make it much easier and quicker for the whole team including myself.  And I need backup support for the volume of mail I get.
  3. Spam Filters — Since all email will be turned into a ticket with a link online, if someone’s not getting my email they can easily check for replies at the help desk.  HA!  This defeats the evil/wonderful/necessary spam filters.

Tomorrow I’ll share what features I wanted and why, as well as which help desk I chose.  Then I’ll update later about how it’s working for me.  I’ve worked with more than a dozen help desk systems so I’m sure I’m off on another “adventure” but it’s a step in the right direction and I’ll adjust as I go.

In the meantime, I’ve got to get back to unsubbing from ezines, updating contact info on a few really good ones, and migrating my mail into the new system.

If you’re one of those who’ve emailed me and didn’t get a reply, I’m very sorry (and frustrated!) but I’m going to be attempting to follow up with everyone once the new system is in place so I also apologize if you get multiple emails from me you’ve already received — it’s just impossible for me to know what’s getting through and what isn’t right now.  Thanks for your patience (and if you’ve got extra, send me some patient vibes!).

Life’s all a learning process and my lessons this week are to think more long term (I know long term a help desk is going to be what I have to use, and I should have done it a while ago), stop resisting good change (I’m dragging myself away from GMail kicking and screaming), keep the fan in my desktop clean or the computer will be unhappy and make extremely scary noises, and don’t give a 6 year old a glue stick with her Christmas unit study unless you want to detach long hair from a hand-print reindeer.  Whew!

Quick Question: If you use a help desk system for your business email, which one is working for you?  As a customer/client/support-requester, which help desk systems or features do you like?  I’m not 100% sold on what I’m setting up, and won’t hesitate to change which system I’m using if needed so I’d love your feedback on what you love or hate.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Terri Zwierzynski. Terri Zwierzynski said: RT: @MichelleShaeffr: Crossing the Line to a Help Desk – Reading time: 4 – 6 minutes This week I’ve felt… […]

  2. Looking forward to helping you along this journey :-)
    Amy recently posted… A Christmas smileMy Profile

  3. Testing to see how this comment works….or not :-)
    Amy recently posted… A Christmas smileMy Profile

    1. It worked :-)
      Amy recently posted… A Christmas smileMy Profile

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