Something strange going on with your brand new laptop? Trying and failing to connect to your company’s new cloud-based messaging platform? Who are you gonna call?
Probably the help desk analyst.
These professionals handle dozens of such requests every day, making this role one of the most important and visible in IT. It’s a great starting point for tech-savvy individuals with strong interpersonal skills and a foundation for further steps in building an IT career.
But what does the average workday for a help desk analyst look like? Here’s a quick overview.
A Tiered Role for Help Desk Analysts
Help desk analysts are the front line of customer support. If they can, they solve users’ technical problems themselves. If they can’t, they connect users with more experienced colleagues. Here are the three levels of analysts:
A Tier 1 help desk analyst typically takes the initial customer inquiry (usually submitted as a ticket through a self-service portal) and handles relatively simple hardware, software, or network issues. If they can’t fix the problem, they escalate it to a level 2 analyst.
A Level 2 analyst can solve more complex systems and application problems. Additionally, these mid-level analysts often maintain the company’s computer ticketing system (see Ticket Maintenance below). Level 2 analysts can assign or reassign a ticket to a level 3 analyst when faced with an issue they cannot resolve.
A Level 3 analyst finds and resolves the most complex issues that other levels of support have not been able to solve. They also identify problem reporting trends and offer preventative solutions.
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Types of remote assistance
A help desk analyst spends most of the day performing remote support. This can take several forms:
Screen sharing or remote control
Live chat support
Performing any type of technical support is hard enough, but remote support can require even more skill.
If screen sharing or remote control tools aren’t available, helpdesk analysts must rely on users to be their eyes and hands when trying to troubleshoot a problem. The help desk analyst needs to visualize what the user sees on their screen and know exactly what suggestions to give and how to formulate that advice so that the user can follow through.
Help desk analysts are more important than ever in the age of remote work. If you hope to be a help desk analyst, you may find that you offer support to people who cannot do their jobs without your help. This means it can sometimes be a high-pressure role, requiring patience and empathy. A little warmth and humor can also help ensure people have a positive experience while you talk to them about their technical issues.
Support requests are tracked using a ticket system. Analysts typically spend part of the workday reviewing existing tickets and finding cases that need to be closed, following up with users if necessary, and setting reminders for future action.
Help desk analysts dealing with particularly time-sensitive issues will spend more of their day maintaining tickets and following up on callbacks to ensure their tickets are on track for quick resolution.
The most effective help desks track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as average time to resolution and percentage of tickets escalated.
Training, coaching and consulting
A more experienced help desk analyst, such as a Level 3 technician, will likely spend time training and coaching others in addition to solving more complex IT issues.
Level 3 professionals should also maintain documentation such as knowledge base articles or FAQs. They use KPIs to evaluate help desk performance and look for ways to improve it. Additionally, they report user feedback to IT technicians and development teams, who can use this data to improve products and services.
Titles and certifications
If you want to excel as a help desk analyst, don’t assume you can learn everything on the job. Having the right industry certifications improves your chances of moving up the ranks quickly and negotiating a better salary. Some of the most requested credentials are CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate, HDI, and Cisco.
A promising career path
For people with strong communication and problem-solving skills, an entry-level support role can also be a great way to build a career in technology. Help desk analysts are in demand, and you can view median starting salaries in the Robert Half Salary Guide.