10 Qualities Every Help Desk Technician Should Have

Whether you want to stay at the help desk or move on to a new IT job, developing these 10 qualities will set you up for success.

Brunette woman wearing a headseatHelp desk technician is the first job role many IT pros find themselves in and is often a steppingstone to other job roles. A strong start on the help desk can set individuals up for a successful career in IT. 

While help desk technicians usually only stay in their role for 2 years or less, they are critically important to an IT team.

What does a help desk technician do? Here are some of typical tasks:

  • Installing new technologies and teaching end users how to operate them
  • Providing remote technical support via internet or phone
  • Backing up and restoring files
  • Maintaining operating systems by repairing hardware and configuring software

To perform these technical tasks, help desk technicians often must employ non-technical skills like communication, customer service, problem solving and more.

The help desk role is not an easy one. It can be a negative environment as technicians are constantly bombarded with questions and problems.

The help desk is also a high-pressure environment. Despite its drawbacks, serving at the help desk can be incredibly rewarding if the right qualities and skills are developed.

More than anyone else, a help desk technician has the power to give employees across all departments a positive view of IT since they are usually the first IT pro that an employee encounters. Because of this, it’s critical that help desk technicians possess specific qualities. 

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10 Qualities Help Desk Technicians Must Possess

Do you want to become a better help desk technician? If so, here are 10 qualities to strive for, from ITProTV.

1. Put Customers First

The best help desk technicians put end users first, always. This means making your current end user’s problem appear to be your number one priority, even if you don’t view it as a pressing issue.

PRO TIP: Treat every end user’s problem with urgency and assure callers that their concern is an important one that you are committed to resolving.

2. Have Business Awareness

To be a successful help desk technician, you must have business awareness. This means immediately asking an end user where they are calling from and about their role within the company. Knowing this gives the help desk technician a gauge for how critical the end user’s problem is.

For example, the technician may be speaking with an individual who will lose a major sale if their issue is not quickly tended to.

PRO TIP: Spend half a day in each department to understand the company as a whole.

3. Be Empathetic

Empathy is hands down more important than technical help desk skills. Empathetic help desk technicians can better connect with their end users and make them feel understood.

Empathy doesn’t come naturally to everyone – it is a learned skill. The quickest way to become more empathetic is to develop your active listening skills. When you are actively listening, you should be able to repeat back what was just said.

You’ll discover as you develop your active listening skills that end users will tell you just about everything you need to know to solve their problem. This not only builds empathy, but also helps you gather more information while asking fewer questions. 

PRO TIP: Repeat back what the end user says to make sure you understand the issue and have all the information you need.

4. Have an Analytical Mind

Being able to technically analyze a situation is key to solving end user problems and shining in the role of help desk technician. To effectively analyze an end user’s issue, you must ask targeted questions about what they are experiencing.

Think of yourself as a detective who must glean the right information to properly analyze any given technical issue. To do this, you will occasionally have to deviate from a script. And remember, analytical thinking is a transferable skill that will help you succeed in other job roles. 

PRO TIP: Ask targeted questions to understand and analyze the issue.

5. Work Well Under Pressure

As mentioned earlier, the help desk is a high-pressure environment. It can be quite stressful if you have not developed the quality of working well under pressure.

To develop this ability, get better at multitasking. Multitasking involves prioritizing your responsibilities and focusing intently on the task at hand without getting distracted.

Also, being confident in both technical and non-technical skills will increase your ability to work well under pressure. To boost your skill level and confidence, take one or two soft skills courses per year, as well as any technical courses relevant to your job role.

PRO TIP: Build your skills to increase your confidence and alleviate the stress of a high-pressure environment.

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Want more tips about how to get these 10 help desk qualities? Watch this on-demand webinar from ITProTV.

6. Be Willing to Learn

Being willing to learn is one of the most critical qualities of an exceptional help desk technician. A willingness to learn takes humility and the ability to accept constructive criticism from your peers. This characteristic is very attractive to employers; virtually every company wants to hire employees who are lifelong learners.

Growing in your willingness to learn will help you move beyond the help desk if that is your goal. It will also allow you to sharpen your help desk skills to better serve end users. 

PRO TIP: Find opportunities to learn from what others do and the feedback they provide.

7. Be Patient

Patience serves help desk technicians well. When IT pros choose to be patient with themselves as well as with others, they are better able to quickly get to the bottom of issues and find solutions.

To become more patient, remember that your end users are not as technically skilled as you are. This will help you keep your cool and build rapport with them.

Also, keep in mind that some people must wait a long time to talk with you. Understandably, they may have a short temper when they finally reach you. To calm them down and earn their trust and confidence, you’ll need to adopt a patient attitude. 

PRO TIP: Try to understand where your end users are coming from to have more patience.

8. Collaborate With Others

Collaboration is key for great help desk service. Help desk technicians frequently find themselves collaborating with other IT professionals to solve end user issues.

To succeed in their role, a help desk technician must be able to work with others toward shared goals, even if they work remotely. Even during something as simple as a shift handover, help desk technicians collaborate with their coworkers. Collaboration helps them deliver value and shouldn’t be underestimated.  

PRO TIP: Be a team player and lend a hand when you can. Teamwork makes the dream work.

9. Pay Attention to Detail

Another quality every help desk technician should possess is the ability to pay attention to detail. This goes hand in hand with analytical thinking and involves listening to your end user intently to find clues as to why they are having a technical problem, then homing in on and exploring the details that stand out to you.

Help desk technicians who pay sharp attention to detail also tend to work well with second- and third-level teams and set a good value perception for end users. 

PRO TIP: Details matter – listen actively and think analytically about what your end user tells you to solve their problem.

10. Be Good at Time Management

For a help desk technician, time management can’t be overemphasized. Time management isn’t necessarily about getting to work on time. That is punctuality. It involves making the most of your time so that you can deliver maximum value to your end users.

Time management works in tandem with collaboration. The more effectively you collaborate with those who can help you get your tasks done, the more you will be able to accomplish. If you are a lone wolf, you won’t get as much done.

PRO TIP: Take 10 minutes at the beginning of your shift to make a list of things you need to get done.

These qualities not only supercharge your effectiveness as a help desk technician and enable you to deliver incredible value to your end users, but they also put you on track for a promotion and maximize your help desk skills.

Whether you want to stay at the help desk or move on to a new role, you will need to develop all these characteristics. Learn more about the 10 qualities help desk technicians should have in this on-demand webinar hosted by ITPro.TV.

Other Help Desk Skills You Should Learn

If you want to develop the qualities mentioned above more quickly, there are a couple of help desk skills you’ll need to learn first.

  • Emotional intelligence: To become emotionally intelligent, consistently ask yourself how your actions affect your end users. Being aware of the effect you have on others is being emotionally intelligent. Emotional intelligence is similar to empathy, but it differs in the sense that empathy is more about active listening. Conversely, emotional intelligence has more to do with understanding how what you do or say makes others feel and respond. 
  • Neuro linguistic programming: Neuro linguistic programming is a technique that enables help desk technicians and other professionals to take a negatively charged situation and turn it around. It combines emotional awareness with tone of voice and body language and is an incredibly useful, highly transferable skill for any IT pro to possess. Taking a course in neuro linguistic programming, or reading a book about it, will likely have a fantastic payoff for help desk technicians. 

How to Become a Help Desk Technician

Getting started as a help desk professional can be as easy as earning a foundational IT certification. Take a few minutes to learn more about how to become a help desk technician, and check out the CompTIA A+ certification, your gateway into an entry-level IT position. 

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