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Help Desk, Customer Service, Cloud & Security Insights, with a Side of Altruism!

How to Buy Help Desk Cloud Software

Help desk and customer service software empowers businesses to take a more proactive approach to addressing customer issues. Companies can eliminate the inefficient, manual procedures that cause lags in response times, and solve customer problems as quickly and efficiently as possible. But, selecting the right help desk or customer service software solution can be complex and confusing. How can you make the process easier?

Outline Your Needs

Build a list of your key requirements before you begin calling in vendors.

Start by talking to key stakeholders and end users to determine what their goals and challenges are, and what kinds of tools they need to achieve or overcome them. This will help you identify the help desk or customer service software features you can't live without.

Select a Vendor

Once you know what kind of help desk or customer service software you're looking for, you can begin evaluating providers.

Talk with your colleagues about what products they are using to achieve success. Review the Web for customer case studies to find the best-matched vendors. Sometimes the perspectives of industry analysts can be helpful, but remember that they do not use the products that they discuss with you. Wouldn't it be smarter if you found very happy customers who you have needs in common. Conduct an in-depth assessment of each product, and compare it to your  list of requirements. The best way to accomplish this is to have a very clearly detailed Needs Assessment that asks insightful questions about features and functionality that your stakeholders need. Once you've identified those vendors who can meet all or most of your needs, review their histories, support track record, financial statuses, and speak with their customers.

Request Demos and Trials

Product demonstrations are a standard part of the sales process, but make sure you see more than just a canned or pre-recorded one. Request a customized demo that highlights those features on your checklist, and simulates processes within your current help desk or customer service environment.

But remember, a demonstration - no matter how in-depth - will only provide you with an overview of a help desk or customer service software package's capabilities. If you want to really see how the solution will work, you'll need to trial the software for 30 days before you commit to buying it. Will the vendor provide unlimited support during the trial without cost to make sure that you are well taken care of? If not, you need to ask yourself, "what will happen once I become a customer if they do not want to support me now while I am still a prospect"?

Here is a great Excel Tool that will help you document your needs and requirements. See

Reduce IT Help Desk Costs with Cloud/SaaS

Given the state of the worldwide economy, it is timely to now to review how much money your company can saved with Software-as-a-Service.  Why is Software as a Service (SaaS) so popular?  Is your company making budget reductions, but want to keep providing exceptional levels of customer service and support?  SaaS can help you reduce costs while giving your team a product that is generally easier to learn and use with minimal training and not require any IT resources to support. Every time you go to your IT department to ask for assistance, they probably say they have too many project that will directly impact revenue so they cannot help your with customer service software selection, deployment and ongoing maintenance. With Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), you do not need resources from the IT department to get your project started and keep going.

It's the economics stupid!

Look at the Total Cost of of ownership for required hardware and software for a typical midsized Customer Service department, Call Center or IT help desk.  These costs do not consider the cost of the actual customer service, call center or IT help desk software.

It's Green and Cheap!

Also, do you really need to have more servers in your company data center burning up power for server operation and cooling. It's an inefficient use of energy. Ask a SaaS vendor if they use a multitenant architecture. Many Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications are architected from the start as pure web applications and have multiple customers sharing the same underlying server infrastructure.  This saves power and cooling resources by leveraging and sharing computing infrastructure. Smart CIOs and VPs of Customer Service are planning for this today.

Take a look at these numbers. Are you surprised?



3 Year Infrastructure & Administration Costs of Owning Servers $259,100

  •      Server Support & Maintenance $208,500
  •      Server Hardware & Software $50,600


1. Database Server required
One server at minimum is required to run applications. DB server cost estimate is $10,000 for hardware. Plus annual maintenance contract and power 40% of cost per year. Use $10,000 x 40% x 3 years = $12,000

2. Database Licenses Required
Microsoft SQL @ $5,500 processor license x 2 processors is $11,000. Plus annual software maintenance is 20%..$11,000 x 20% x 3 years =$6,600

3. Web Server required
A web server is required for best performance. Total Web Server cost estimate is $5,000 for hardware. Plus annual maintenance contract and power cost is 40% of cost per year. Use $5,000 x 40% x 3 years = $6,000

4. General Server Administration (O/S, Patches, Virus, BIOS, HD...)
Servers and O/S require continuous maintenance. Gartner Group estimates 65 hrs/year @ $150/hr. per server is $9,750 x 2 servers x 3 years is $58,500.

5. Daily Incremental and Full Weekly Back-up
Your IT department either performs or must automate data backup. Back-up media storage process and costs associated with off-site storage. Gartner Group estimates $10,000/yr. per server x 2 servers x 3 years is $60,000.

6. Required Application & Database Administration
Database and application requires continuous monitoring for performance and storage. Gartner Group estimates 50 hrs/year per installation @ $200/hr. is $10,000 x 2 servers x 3 years is $60,000.

7. Man-hours required for upgrades
How many total IT man-hours are required to implement an upgrade (Backup, install)? Gartner Group estimates average upgrade requires 80 hrs @ $125/hr is $10,000 x 1 time/yr. x 3 years =$30,000. This does not included user training.

Other costs to consider if you want to own Customer Service, Call Center and IT Help Desk software:

8. Up-front configuration required
Configuration requires outside consulting, significant time and input from your organization. As your needs change, this is an ongoing cost.

9. Frequency of incremental upgrades (Months)
How often does the vendor distribute upgrades? What is your required process to deploy an upgrade?

10. User Training
How much additional administrator and user training is required to gain proficiency with a complex client server application deployed locally vs. an externally hosted application? Do you need to maintain programmers and Crystal Reports experts on staff?

Here is a great White Paper on the topic.

The title is "Saving Money with Software-as-a-Service". See

Customer Service Software Key Features/Best Practices

Customer Service Software can empower businesses to improve and enhance their critical post-sales support operations.

+Boost Productivity and Improve Your Customer Service

The ability to rapidly answer inquiries, address issues, and solve problems is crucial to achieving and maintaining the highest levels of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. Many businesses are turning to customer service software to dramatically enhance their post-sales support operations.

Customer service automation, can significantly improve the productivity and responsiveness of service and support teams by centralizing and streamlining the tasks associated with issue management. Staff members can effectively track and monitor the status of customer problems and related activities every step of the way, from the moment they are reported until they are resolved, to ensure smooth and efficient handling.

With customer service software, support teams can also leverage a comprehensive, yet intuitive knowledge base that provides them with easy access to the thorough and detailed information they need to quickly satisfy customer requirements. This knowledge base not only increases efficiency, it enhances collaboration across product development, quality assurance, field consulting and support, and other departments by allowing them to share timely and accurate information as it becomes available.

+Let Your Customers Help Themselves

One of the most beneficial features of a customer service software solution is its self-service capabilities. With customer service software, customers have convenient, 24 x 7 access to Web-based help, frequently asked questions (FAQs), troubleshooting tips, and product documentation, so they can solve routine problems on their own. If they have more complex issues that require further assistance, they can then report a problem or open a service request or job ticket online.

+Make Better Decisions

Many customer service software packages also include powerful business intelligence capabilities. Supervisors can use reports and analytics to instantly identify and understand the positive and negative trends that impact both help desk operations, and the business as a whole. For example:

  • Do certain products have above average defect or breakdown rates?
  • Are customers having difficulty understanding assembly instructions, operating manuals, or user guides?
  • What new features or functions have clients been asking for?

+Customized for Your Business

Customer needs, common issues, and support processes and related work flows vary greatly from industry to industry and from company to company. Businesses must have a flexible solution that can be tailored to effectively meet their unique and specific requirements. But, as important as this capability is, not all customer service software solutions on the market today are fully customizable.

+A Few More Common Customer Service Software Features

Other common customer service software features include:

  • Support for multiple communication channels, including phone, Web, email, live chat, and co-browsing.
  • Dynamic resource allocation that automatically assigns staff members to specific customer issues, based on their current workload, as well as their skills, education, and experience.
  • Dynamic real-time alerts that instantly notify managers of any potential breakdowns in critical support processes. For example, a supervisor can receive an immediate alert when an unusual or highly-complex problem is reported, or when a customer issue goes unresolved for an extended period of time.

Here is a great White Paper on the topic:

Benefits of Customer Service Cloud Software

How Your Business can Benefit from Help Desk and Customer Service Software

Summary: The benefits of help desk and customer software are indisputable - improved productivity and cost-efficiency, faster response times, increased customer satisfaction, and more. 

Help Desk & Customer Service Software Deliver a Superior Customer Experience

In today's highly competitive business environment - where customers are more demanding than ever before and are less loyal- companies must strive to deliver world-class support in order to maximize client loyalty, retain market share, and ensure ongoing profitability.

Automation can provide companies with the tools they need to deliver the kind of superior and convenient service that customers require. With help desk and customer service software, they can build stronger, longer lasting relationships and gain a solid competitive edge.

What can your company can do with a help desk or customer service software solution?

+Provide Faster, More Convenient Service

With help desk and customer service software, companies can offer faster and more convenient support to customers - and as a result, give a significant boost to satisfaction, loyalty, and retention rates.

Response times will be dramatically reduced and problems will be resolved as rapidly as possible. Additionally, help desk and customer service software allow customers to choose from a wider range of communication options - such as the Web, email, live chat, and co-browsing - so they can obtain the support they need in the manner they most prefer.

+Increase Staff Productivity

Help desk and customer service software automates the entire end-to-end problem reporting and resolution process, so each and every customer issue is handled efficiently and effectively. Staff productivity is optimized because the manual, redundant, and time-consuming tasks that can cause lags in response times are virtually eliminated, and activities are better coordinated across on-site and remote field support teams.

+Improve Information Flow

With help desk and customer service software applications, all data related to customer problems is stored in a central location for fast, easy access.

This helps support staff stay more informed about common questions and issues, and how to most successfully address them, so they can be more proactive and responsive. Additionally, help desk and customer service software can eliminate the communication bottlenecks that can cause issues to be mismanaged or "dropped". And, it provides much needed insight to other departments who impact customer satisfaction - including product development, manufacturing, fulfillment, and quality assurance.

+Reduce Support Costs

Service and support operations can become quite expensive, especially when they involve dispatching field consultants to remote locations.

With help desk and customer service software solutions, companies can increase their first call resolution rates (a key performance indicator and industry benchmark for support operations), and minimize the number of issues that require on-site support and assistance. Additionally, because help desk and customer service software streamlines, coordinates, and automates related activities, it can reduce the redundancies and errors that waste both time and money.

+Boost Employee Morale

Some help desks and customer service operations support not only customers and external business partners, but employees as well. Many companies maintain internal help desk teams, who are on call to handle issues with IT systems and more, so staff can perform their jobs as effectively as possible.

Studies show that companies who are equipped to quickly resolve both technical and non-technical employee problems are likely to experience higher morale, improved productivity, and lower turnover rates.

Here are two great White Papers on the topic:

Reduce Costs with SaaS/Cloud IT Help Desk

The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) revolution allows companies to subscribe to software applications and outsource operating the back-end infrastructure to the SaaS vendor. In most cases, the SaaS vendor can do this much more cost effective; providing overall cost savings for the company. As a result, companies can spread their IT budget across many more applications to support and grow their business operations which will in turn contribute to the bottom line.


Here is a great White Paper on Saving Money with SaaS. See

Save Money-Cloud IT Help Desk and Customer Service Software

As budgets are being set for 2009, your company is looking to save money. Due to budget constraints, the help desk and customer service software markets are really moving rapidly toward Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) to save a lot of money.

The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) approach can significantly lower your annual costs and provide a better product.  SaaS can significantly decrease capital, deployment, labor, operations, network, training, support and intangible costs.

According to Gartner Group, a global IT research firm, the annual cost to own and manage software applications can be up to four times the cost of the initial purchase. As a result, companies end up spending more than 75% of their total IT budget just on maintaining and running existing systems and software infrastructure.1 The number of software applications that a company may need are infinite. The resources to operate these applications however are finite.


1 Timothy Chou, The End of Software, SAMS Publishing, 2005, page 6


Here is a great White Paper on Saving Money with SaaS. See

Calculate ROI-Knowledge Bases

Now let’s examine how we might calculate a monthly return. You may want to modify these to focus on quarterly or annual impacts. When doing so, it is recommended that you adjust your forecasted improvements based on your expectations of the adoption rate and implementation plans.

Reducing the Average Call Time on first contact.
Forecasted improvement: 1 minute
Savings = (Cases per month * Cost per case) * (Improvement / Talk Time for first contact)
Savings = (5000 * $40) * (1/12)
Savings = $16,667 per month

Increasing the First Call Resolution Rate.
Forecasted improvement: 20%
Savings = (Cases per month * Improvement) * ((Escalated Talk Time – Talk Time for first contact) / Talk Time for first contact) * Cost per call
Savings = (5000 * 20%) * ((18 – 12) / 12) * $40
Savings = $20,000 per month

Reducing the Escalation Rate.
Forecasted improvement: 5%
Savings = (Cases per month * Improvement) * (Cost per escalated case – Cost per case)
Savings = (5000 * 5%) * ($150.00 - $40)
Savings = $27,500 per month

Reducing the time required for a new support professional to become productive.
Forecasted improvement: 3 weeks
Savings = ((Improvement * Number of new hirers per year) * (Average burdened cost of a support professional / weeks per year)) / months per year
Savings = ((3 * 8) *($70,000 / 52)) / 12
Savings = $2,692 per month

Redirecting repeat calls to Self-Service.
Forecasted improvement: 10% of current cases redirected to self-service
Savings = (Improvement * Cases per month) * Cost per case
Savings = (10% * 5000) * $40
Savings = $20,000 per month

Developing an ROI for Knowledge Management in your support center depends on your current state, your implementation plans, your team, and your customers. The need for a formal ROI depends heavily on the senior management responsible for the support center. Some companies have minimized this focus because of an existing strong support from senior managers for Knowledge Management. Industry research groups such as Gartner, Forrester, Yankee, and others have well documented the value of Knowledge Management in the support center.


Here are some great White Papers on this topic

Source: Joslin & Associates

ROI-Knowledge Bases for IT Help Desks

Once you understand your current state, you must make reasonable forecasts regarding the impact Knowledge Management will have on your organization. The Knowledge Management vendors may offer to assist you with developing your ROI. Some vendors provide well-tuned and complex models. To simplify things, let’s examine how some of the benefits can actually be converted to dollars. Before we begin, we need to make some assumptions about the support center.

While these numbers may vary in your organization, the assumptions provide an example for this discussion.


  1. Number of cases per month is 5000
  2. Average cost per case is $40.00.
  3. Average cost per escalated case is $150.00
  4. Average burdened cost for a support professional is $70,000.00
  5. Average talk time for first contact is 12 minutes
  6. Average talk time for escalated calls 18 minutes
  7. Time require for a new hire to be productive is 6 weeks
  8. Number of new hires per year 8
  9. First call resolution rate is 40%

Here are some great White Papers on this topic

Source: Joslin & Associates

Knowledgebase ROI for Customer Service

While most support center managers are able to forecast the costs, they struggle to forecast the savings. This is partially because a number of the benefits of Knowledge Management are defined as soft dollars. Companies struggle to put a value on customer satisfaction, job satisfaction, quality service, or even the intellectual capital that is captured into the knowledge base. Another reason companies struggle is because they lack a benchmark. Before you can forecast an improvement, you have to know where you are.


If you would like a white paper on this topic please download it at:

Source: Joslin & Associates

Is this interesting information? Please share your thoughts. Thank you!

What is the ROI of a Knowledgebase?

Knowledge Management is an ongoing process of capturing, optimizing, and delivering information. It is not a one-time purchase of a new support center tool. Therefore to calculate the Return On Investment, you need to evaluate the cost of implementation and the cost of management. The cost of implementation relates to the initial purchase of software, hardware, communications, training, and services required for the knowledge base to be placed into production for daily use. The cost of management relates to the ongoing costs of maintaining the knowledge base and the infrastructure that was implemented.

If you would like a white paper on this topic please download it at:

Source: Joslin & Associates

Is this interesting information? Please share your thoughts. Thank you!


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