Today is a big day at Helpdesk Habits towers.

After 3 months of planning and a complete rewrite of the engine which powers Helpdesk Habits, version 2.0 is now live.

When the service launched in May 2019, I was aware of the need for certification, but wanted to ship early. I’ve always been taught to ship early and refine along the way – and that’s exactly what’s happened.

After the launch of the program in Las Vegas, I spoke to around 100 businesses and got some brilliant feedback on what they wanted from a program like this.

Most of them told me that they wanted agents to be rewarded for their learning efforts – to have some kind of recognition for putting the time in, to learn and understand how to be better agents. A certification was definitely the way forward.

In addition, some of our early customers explained that for teams – they wanted to track progress of team members. Up until today, that wasn’t possible.

A brand new helpdesk certification

Each of the 61 video modules is now part of a shiny new learning management system. This means that users can test their understanding at the end of each module by answering a simple question. Get it right and their progress is checked off.

Modules can be tackled in any order you wish – there’s no need to be sequential.

Once all 61 modules have been completed, it’s then time to take a deep breath and go for the certification exam.

The exam consists of 25 questions. Some will have been seen before. Others are new. It’s designed to see if you’ve grasped the concepts – and not to grill members on the detail of individual modules.

Get 80% or above, and you’ll receive your custom certificate, ready to hang on your wall.

In addition, there’s also a digital badge to download – to add to your email signature – to show others, you’ve gained the skills to become a helpdesk superhero.

There’s a plan to include a public hall of fame of businesses who want to go public with their success.

Track your team’s progress

Most businesses already using Helpdesk Habits are teams. Changing habits is most effective as a team.

From today, it’s now possible for team leaders to track team progress through the program. In addition, they can also see team member quiz attempts scores and whether the certification is complete.

It’s also really easy to add and invite additional team members into the certification program.

The resources area

Our resources area is still available to all solo and team license holders – including 70+ desktop wallpapers, which really aid in embedding and changing habits. If you’d like a custom one made – just get in touch and we’ll send it over.

Pricing

Pricing is now simpler.

It’s set at $99/user for their training and certification, with bulk discounts for multiple team users.

Solo users are also welcome at $99.

Access to the program lasts for 12 months.

___________

I’m delighted to have so many great customers already who’ve beeen so generous with thier feedback. I hope the new features will be of real benefit and look forward to moving the service forward over the coming months as we aim to set industry standards for customer interaction.

Mark Copeman
Helpdesk Habits creator

IT-soft-skills-header

Why is it that employee IT soft skills training always seems like an after thought?

In the IT support world, so often the focus is on tecnical qualification, on exams, on admin training and on the latest security procedures.

Of course, all of those things are important. Hugely so. The balance though has shifted too far towards technical capability and upskilling on IT soft skills is behind left behind. It’s seen as a nice to have, yet actually it’s critical to balance technical skills with that ability to communicate well, listen and much more.

IQ vs EQ

IT support agents are expected to be adept at empathy, the written word, tone of voice, thinking ahead and being flexible, however that’s often not the case for an IT professional, or actually for roles in many other sectors for that matter.

I tackle this issue at the start of the Helpdesk Habits book. In short, I argue why you shouldn’t expect an expert in IT to be an expert in human communication skills. Why? Because the chances are they’ve never been shown the way, coached or trainied and then encouraged to practice those skills.

It’s unfair to assume any one person will naturally have what it takes to work successfully with a customer, to upsell, to spot an opportunity or harness a testimonial.

Let’s look at this another way.

I think you’ll agree it’s unfair to assume I’ll be able to explain how to deploy a docker container onto the the container orchestration platform, Kubernetes, using a constant integration pipeline.

Why is this assumption incorrect? Simply, because I’ve never been trained to do such a task!

THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE between the two statements.

If you’re not naturally skilled at something, you need to be trained, to get good at it.

LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report

It seems I’m not the only one who thinks investing in IT soft skills will benefit your business. These issues are cross industry too.

In a survey of 4,000 professionals globally, there are some worrying trends.

The report doesn’t give the definition of ‘soft skills’ and so I’m unsure how ‘soft skills’ is measured. I’m going to assume they are referring to communications skills, the ability to write well, empathy, networking (in a people sense) skills, the ability to present ideas well, questioning, listening and so on.

The second stat perhaps backs up my assumption.

Here’s another issue:

These two stats won’t be a surprise. Who has time for training these days? The pressures around us always seem to be overwhelming. Taking 3 days offsite to be ‘trained’ in IT soft skills is never going to be aa good option, however there are of course other ways! Bite-sized video training is the way to go for me.

There is light at the end of the tunnel:

IT-soft-skills-benefits-3

I’ve talked to dozens of MSP owners about the difficulties of retaining their staff. This is particularly tricky in populous areas such as San Francisco and New York City. Competition for jobs is fierce and salary alone isn’t going to cut it for many. You can create real loyalty by focusing on employee engagement through investing in good quality training – both formal and informal.

Going through training as a team is also a great way to create real change. Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the best examples of changing behaviours through team work.

Can you really teach IT soft skills?

In my conversations with MSPs as recently as two months ago, many are now hiring based on a candidate’s soft skills. Often they will come from the hospitality industry. They then invest in accreditations to turn them into an IT professional.

I think that’s controversial and many I spoke to at Connect IT disagree with that approach too. Those that are going down this route feel that having those essential communications and personality skills outweigh the ability to dubug a kernel, as that can be learnt.

In theory, it’s easier to hire for technical skills than soft skills because it’s easier to measure the technical skills through accreditation and exams. That said, you won’t be the first person to hire based on personality alone.

I argue that IT soft skills can be taught though and added onto a highly trained technical person’s skillset.

IT soft skills - Helpdesk Habits book quote

It’s completely possible to build a series of tactics and techniques which can be layered on over time and practiced so that eventually they become ‘default’, or moving away from the IT lexicon, a set of habits.

Of course, I would argue this – I’ve built a business around it – but I know it can be done, when done right.

The benefits of IT soft skills training

Your helpdesk / suppport desk / service desk, however you term it, is your frontline team to the world. Everything agents say and do gets scrutinised and for that moment of communication, whether by phone, on chat or on email – that agent is the face and voice of your company.

An agent’s actions at that moment in time, singlehandedly affects how that customer or prospect perceives your company’s brand.

This can be a sobering thought.

For those agents who are blunt, focused on technology alone and not adept at listening and communicating, they will almost certainly not realise this.

When IQ takes over from EQ, long term relationships rarely form and high CSAT results, referrals and happy customers will always be an issue.

On the flipside, simple changes to IT soft skills, such as training in communication techniques and the written word, can generate referrals, create testimonials, reap new projects and solidify relationships.

When contract renewals come round, who wouldn’t want to renew, when friendships have developed between client and MSP? Who would turn down a team who sends birthday cards to clients, who go the extra mile, who ask about a husband who’s been admitted to hospital and congratulate a client whose children have just starred in a local performance?

With all other things being equal, with staff like that, no one would turn down that chance to renew – because people love dealing with other people.

Helpdesk Habits can help

If you’re looking for IT soft skills training and feel you need some help, read on.

We believe in the concept of habits.

One off hits of training rarely work. Instead, layering on simple ‘habit loops’ involving triggers and actions, which when practiced for 70 days, ensures behaviours are changed and change really happens.

You can sign up for a trial here.

On 7th May 2019, Kaseya’s annual Connect IT Global event took place at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas.

We gave away 500 branded copies of the Helpdesk Habits book, launched the Helpdesk Habits online programme and Mark was asked to present at a breakout session.

A 70 day framework for success

Mark talked to over 100 people on the Helpdesk Habits stand. Many he spoke to were disappointed that they didn’t get to see his breakout session. A few even admitted to making the wrong choice that Tuesday afternoon 😮.

To make amends, Mark has re-recorded his (standing room only) presentation and you can watch it below … great lunch break viewing perhaps?

What topics does the presentation cover?

It includes his thoughts on why human customer service is just so important for today’s MSPs, to truly differentiate.

He talks about the importance of ensuring your agents are properly skilled in this area and how to make that change – through habit embedding.

He discusses how habits are formed, habit loops and how to create and break habits – the scientific way.

Finally, he talks through 6 different habits from the book and online programme, which you can take and start to embed today, to make a real difference to your business.

So – leave the technology at the door for 40 mins, settle back, click play and let’s get human…

The ultimate customer service skills program launches!

The idea for Helpdesk Habits began in August 2018, where I sat with a notepad on vacation, staring out at the ocean. Being at a desk is rarely a good place to uncover ideas. I wanted to get down on paper, and now on screen, everything I knew about customer service and turn that thinking into the ultimate customer service skills program.

My experiences which have led to the birth of Helpdesk Habits began 32 years ago, when I started out as a mobile DJ, and I was only 15. Having someone screaming in your ear at midnight to play a particular record you didn’t have with you is a great starting point for learning how to get on with people.

From there, my career has seen me in the large coporate world, growing and selling two marketing agencies and latterly, in 2010 I was one of the two co-founders of Customer Thermometer, the still very awesome 1-click feedback tool, which I exited in March 2018. What a journey it was too. It’s there I really earnt my customer service stripes …

It was during my 100’s of conversations with IT support companies, internal service desks, customer support leaders and agents where I guess I learnt most about this area. I realised just how important these interfaces have become in our lives. I also realise the importance of providing the best human customer service possible. That’s exactly what we did at Customer Thermometer. We always aimed to differentiate a potentially faceless online business, by ensuring our customer service was as human as it could get.

Testament to that, only a few weeks ago, my old team won Gold at the 2019 Steve Awards. Whilst not being part of the team any more, I’m still incredibly proud of what they’ve achieved and what I started.

It was time therefore to take that experience, learning, practice and 100’s of conversations and turn that into something which will benefit others. First with the book, and now with the launch of the online programme.

It comes in two parts.

The video program

60+ videos spread across 4.5 hours. High production values and I’d like to think bags of energy, sprinkled with a fair amount of wisdom provides an engaging watch in Boxset Binge mode, or drip feed mode over the course of 12 months.

This is all well and good, however one-off training just doesn’t stick. For real change to happen, you have to embed this new learning in the form of habits, otherwise us humans fall back on what we know.

I explain this concept in the introductory videos which you can watch as part of the trial.

The embed program

To really make the learning stick, there are 70+ desktop wallpapers, for those constant reminders… there is merchandise from mugs, to hoodies to polo shirts … there is wall art, featuring many of the phrases I use and quotes from people a lot more famous than me.

There is of course the book too – if you’re someone who prefers to refer to the written work.

In short, it’s a complete programme. It’s the ultimate customer service skills programme in a box.

Come inside for a look around

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