Security Management

What Scares IT Help Desks? (Here’s 3 Clues)

It's never been a more challenging time to build out an IT service desk/help desk. On the one upside, the tools are improving rapidly. On the downside, customer preferences -- like phone, chat, social or email support -- vary greatly. Supporting all that technology can be daunting. Even worse: Supporting three generations of users -- Millennials, GenX and Boomers, Oh My!

A survey from found the following:

  • Four in five millennials would use social media for customer service and prefer it over web, phone or online chat. That's nearly twice the number of boomers, who prefer to call customer service over any other support channel.
  • Millennials ardently avoid calling customer service. In fact, 34 percent of them would rather have their teeth cleaned, 32 percent would rather go shopping on Christmas Eve and 26 percent would rather go to the DMV.
  • While 39 percent of millennials would first check an online FAQ, generation X is more likely than any other group to turn to the web for help, with 45 percent of them referencing a company's FAQ for information.
  • Among millennials, Facebook is the most popular social channel for customer service questions and is used twice as often as Twitter, which is the second most-used social media site.
  • Nearly 25 percent of millennials expect to get a response within 10 minutes of reaching out for customer service via social media, and more than 30 percent expect the same speed of response when posting a query via text messaging.
  • Millennials are unforgiving when it comes to poor service: nearly one quarter of them would boycott a company after one bad experience. Across generations, 82 percent of people would stop using a company after the third bad experience.

The research, commissioned by, surveyed more than 2,000 individuals ages 18-65 in April and May 2015.

The clear finding: If you run an IT service management practice or an IT help desk, you're going to need multiple channels of communications -- chat, social, email, phone, etc. -- to effectively serve all generations of customers.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.