What are the advantages of a help desk?

Last Updated: April 28, 2015

A data help desk can be a great way to spread the word about the fantastic work the NNIP partners do. The first thing that any organization should do is to determine their help desk’s objective. For example, the Data Center of Greater Southeast Louisiana seeks “to teach requestors how to find the answer themselves, not to give [users] the data.” NeighborhoodInfo DC seeks “to provide access to otherwise difficult-to-retrieve data and expertise in data selection and analysis.” NNIP partners overwhelmingly report that help desks benefit their relationships with customers. Over 90 percent of partner organizations responded that help desks benefit them by beginning relationships to build customers' capacity to use data and make sure they are using it correctly. One of the biggest advantages of a data help desk is that NNIP partners can teach users to make better use of their data and tools. This can happen in a variety of ways. A satisfied customer may talk about an organization to a friend. A reporter might site an organization in an article. A question answered by a tweet may attract new followers.

Data help desks can be a great way to advertise the work an organization does. Over half of respondent organizations say that help desks provide a portal for meaningful community interaction, identify topics for new analysis or web content, and generate leads for more in-depth partnerships or projects. Moreover, 81 percent of partners find that having a data help desk demonstrates demand and usefulness of information services. For about one-third of the partners, answers developed for customers are adapted for their websites or blogs, giving more exposure to partners’ services. A few partners also pointed out that assisting with ad-hoc queries at no cost sometimes leads to future compensated work. Overall, having a help desk and assisting users provides our partners with positive opportunities for the future as well as good rapport with the community. 

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