In this guide we’ll cover:
- What is help desk software?
- Why is help desk software important for trade unions?
- Benefits of help desk software
- Core features of help desk software
- Types of help desk software
- Who uses help desk software?
- Union challenges solved by help desk software
- Types of member support channels
- Choosing a member service help desk software for your union
Please feel free to skip ahead to the topic that most interests you – all the above titles are linked for your convenience.
Whether you're new to help desk and ticketing software and you’re looking to dive deeper into the subject, or you have heard of help desk and ticketing software, and you are on the hunt for the perfect solution to help serve your members better we are going to guide you through everything you need to know about help desk and ticketing software, how it enables trade unions to grow, boosting administrator efficiency and most importantly, member satisfaction.
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What is help desk software?
A help desk (aka help desk ticketing system or help desk software) is a platform where team members can work together to manage, organize, respond to and report on help requests (aka tickets) both internally within your union and externally with the incoming member, employer, and contractor requests.
Most modern help desk systems manage one or more support channels including email, phone, chat, social messaging apps like Facebook or Instagram, and self-service like your website or Member Portal.
Instead of using one email account handled by multiple administrators, or multiple email accounts for one department, unions can use a help desk to streamline communication with members more efficiently, provide faster answers to their members and boost member satisfaction.
Why is help desk software important for trade unions?
Advocating and supporting members throughout their entire member journey is the core mission for every union. And no matter how large or small the union, modern members are expecting more.
The modern member is looking for fast, accurate, and quality service whenever and wherever they want it. A modern union will support them through their (the member's) preferred channel of communication.
It’s time for unions to get out of their way and start delivering service to their members the way their members expect to and deserve to be supported. That means delivering on expectations in real-time, whether that be live-chatting with an administrator or helping themselves through a help center or knowledgebase, it should be about how the member expects to be supported.
Support administrators in any department of the union must be able to deliver their part of that process. Help members solve their issues simply and efficiently.
This is where help desk and ticketing software comes into play.
- To put these into a union context, below are the top three examples for using help desk software for union support:
- Pension administration gets a call from a very frustrated member having problems updating their account
- The union needs to respond promptly or provide resources to the problem.
- The union will do this because they care about:
- Retaining members
- Building trust and loyalty
- Growing their membership
So, how does help desk software support the above examples?
Benefits of help desk software
Create a knowledge center (aka knowledgebase) to support member self-service
- Answer commonly asked questions without the member having to call in
- Decrease member effort required to answer their queries
- Increase member and employee satisfaction
Provide online and offline support for your members
- Members can expect to contact their union on their preferred channel – anytime
- Increase member satisfaction and decrease dissatisfaction
Centralize and structure tickets from various support channels
- Boost internal collaboration between departments (pension, support, member management, training and apprenticeship, dispatch, etc.)
- Provide exceptional member support
- Increase efficiency
Automate tasks to create efficient internal processes and better member experiences
- Admins can focus on more complex member issues
- Improve productivity
- Quick response times
- Increase collaboration between departments
- Less tedious work
Managers can track, prioritize, and report on tickets
- Increased productivity
- Faster response times to members
- Improved data for managers and board members
By using a help desk, unions can create better member experiences while building and running more efficient processes that support member retention, member satisfaction, and loyalty as well as union growth.
Additional benefits of help desk and ticketing software
Modern help desk software enables unions to customize the look and feel of member and internal-facing support options. For example, knowledgebase, FAQs, live chatbots, and contact forms can match your tone, voice, and vibe. Take it a step further with your union's colors to match your union’s branding.
Core features of help desk software
A help desk ticketing system is crucial to managing tickets from member interactions across all communication channels (chat, phone, social media, Member Portal). This makes it much easier for admins to manage, track, and prioritize tickets, as well as view member history and respond with context.
Reporting and analytics
A reporting and analytics system, built into modern help desk software, enables unions to collect and analyze support trends among the union in real-time. Whether you want to monitor or measure performance, data is collected across all channels into one view to make easier, actionable decisions.
Automation helps administrators provide faster responses to members by offloading manual, repetitive, and frankly, tedious work, and streamlining complex tasks with the use of automated triggers.
Other help desk features
“What’s your member number?” is the first and only question administrators would have to ask members when using help desk software because, with every member ticket, administrators can view members' interaction history, as well as relevant personal and technical information to support the member better.
Help desk software allows administrators to work smarter and more efficiently with built-in collaboration tools. Features like internal notes and tagging other administrators and managers in tickets allow the administrators to resolve the member’s issue without having to transfer them to another administrator or department.
Administrator performance management
With help desk software, managers can monitor, analyze, and optimize administrator performance based on key performance indicators (KPIs) and real-time dashboards. these insights can also indicate knowledge gaps to improve administrative training and the onboarding processes of new administrators.
Working examples for help desk software
Help desk software can address external and internal user issues.
Serves members, employers, and contractors who have worked with or are considering working with the union.
Serves departments or employees within the union.
Some help desks service both internal and external users, while some are optimized for one or the other.
Let’s look at a few departmental examples of help desk:
Member support help desk software allows members to contact you via any support channel of their choosing (phone, email, live chat, Member Portal). This kind of help desk allows you to organize all member communications with flexible tools to answer members quickly and effectively.
Employers and contractors
Trade unions primarily deal with employers and contractors. Trade union help desk software offers a way to automate support to these employers and contractors, streamline communications through a contact management system, CRM and Dispatch integrations, and more.
HR help desk software helps human resource teams prioritize and automate and efficiently oversee various aspects of the union’s membership. Collect incoming member questions and create helpful articles to include in your self-service knowledgebase, receive job applications collected from a form on your site to your ticketing system, and much more. Having a powerful HR help desk is important for day-to-day member communication as well as helping members help themselves to answer common questions.
Dispatch management help desk software is used to send, track, and manage service and work order requests. This help desk software’s features must be flexible and secure to meet dispatch needs.
Informational Technology (IT) teams within a union use IT Service Management (ITSM) help desk software. This kind of help desk allows users within the union to troubleshoot hardware and software issues with self-service tools like an internal knowledge management system, track open tickets from start to finish, and communicate across multiple communication channels (email, phone, live chat).
Who uses help desk software?
Help desk software isn’t only used by member support administrators and members. All types of departmental teams and employees within the union can benefit from it. Let’s look at four user types of help desk software:
Managers and team leaders can systematically monitor ticket volume, team performance, and real-time support processes to ensure their union’s service level agreements (SLA) are met.
Administrators use a help desk to answer member inquiries, use a variety of support tools and collaborate with team members.
One of the key benefits of help desk software is to improve member satisfaction. When members need answers to their problems, their first stop is usually the union’s website, or Facebook page, and expect to find easy-to-find support options; submit a ticket to support, live chat with an admin, or search the help center.
Union board members
Not only do members and support administrators use help desk software features daily. Board members can track member feedback to gain insight into how they feel about their union. This enables teams to create member-centric changes based on data-driven insights, and plan for roadmaps ahead.
Union challenges solved by help desk software
For smaller unions
For smaller unions, knowing your budget is key to making the right decisions that will allow you to grow your membership base.
Many smaller unions see member support merely as a drain on costs – a ‘nice to have’ that can be added on at a later stage in development. Having the right help desk software for your union can increase your overall member experience.
Assess your tech stack
Modern help desk solutions come with a range of features that support unions to support their members as they grow. Look at your current support gaps with an eye on where you want to be in five years and choose a plan that will help take you there.
Another cost drain can be the cost of hiring a developer to integrate your new helpdesk with the existing software that you use. Make your help desk work with other applications like CRM or Member Portal, you should consider native or API integrations.
The legacy help desk platforms of the past tended to be clunky and siloed, leading to an admin experience that was not only frustrating but inefficient for handling queues of tickets. Find a help desk designed for trade unions with an intuitive interface so that your team can do their job without any added friction.
For larger unions
As your union expands, it will naturally outgrow some of the basic help desk platforms currently on the market. For larger unions, many of these help desks may not be able to meet your increasing member demands.
Union help desk software covers challenges such as member timeline, workflow automation, and real-time dashboards. Once these problems are addressed, larger unions can provide best-in-class member service and significantly improve the overall member experience.
Help desk features that make the difference for larger unions:
With high volumes of support requests coming in, complex tickets will inevitably be handled by multiple administrators throughout the workday.
This eliminates the need to switch between tabs within the platform, as all channels are presented in a single view, letting administrators focus on addressing multiple support issues simultaneously, while easily spreading the workload across teams.
As a union grows, there are several asked and answered questions and queries that can be automated with an if/then rule engine - these automatic actions allow you to manage events with zero-touch automation and trigger multiple actions, re-assigning to administrator/manager or/and notify someone.
Managers overseeing multiple support teams need to always have their eye on team performance, especially as ticket volumes fluctuate and spike in response to external factors. Use help desk dashboards are an essential tool for monitoring activity across all support channels. This allows managers to make informed decisions by assigning administrators to different channels, queues, and groups, as well as perform bulk actions from one screen in real-time, rather than study data retroactively.
Types of member support channels
Often the best way of providing support is simply giving your members the tools to help themselves. This is especially true in larger unions, where replying to each query is simply not feasible. Uploading answers to your member’s most frequently asked questions in an easy access knowledgebase will deflect many of your basic tickets, leaving the more challenging tickets for your expert administrators.
Best of all, this is what many of your members want, too. Consider your first instinct when you want to know how to do something in each product – for many of us, that’s Googling ‘How to…’ do that thing. This is increasingly the case with younger members. While it’s important to provide best-in-class live support, the truth is that most members don’t want to talk to you – they just want to resolve their issue and get back to what they were doing.
For any member service department that needs to support more than one or two users at a time, a ticketing system is necessary. A good ticketing system allows you to provide a consistent experience to members and administrators by consolidating all channels – email, texting, messaging, social media, and phone.
The image most associated with member support, the call center is a physical place where members call for support. While call centers overall are becoming outdated some older members still find a phone call to be the most comfortable way to receive support, especially when sharing sensitive information about their membership.
A real-time support channel that allows administrators to focus on more than one member at a time, live chat delivers immediate, personalized support from a convenient chatbox. As the fastest channel for online support, live chat offers a boost to member satisfaction.
Social messaging apps
A big part of providing superior member service is about supporting your members where they are. When members need to take extra steps to find you – or worse, channel-switch to reach an administrator who can help them - this is a high-effort interaction that tends to increase frustration levels.
While it can vary by region and industry, many unions today have an active social media presence and, unsurprisingly, this is where many members will reach out for a quick answer. Help desk software that integrates apps like Facebook Messenger.
Choosing a member service help desk software for your union
Choosing help desk software that will be used across your entire union can be daunting. Don’t worry, below are a few critical questions to ask yourself when browsing for a member service help desk software:
- Where do our members spend time and which support channels do we need to support them?
- How many team members in our support department will use the software? (administrators, team leaders, developers)
- Does our company need a self-service solution such as a help center for members, and an internal knowledge hub for employees?
- Do we need automation capabilities for repetitive tasks?
- What kind of reports do our board members want to see?
- What is our budget? Is it flexible?
Answer the questions above and you should be on the right path for choosing the best help desk for your trade union.