How to Use Microsoft Teams as a Help Desk

Are you using MS Teams for inter-team communication? Wondering if you can use Microsoft Teams as a help desk for efficient collaboration?

FACT: If you aren’t using your internal communication tool as your internal help desk platform, you are collaborating inefficiently.

This question by a Reddit user describes that inefficiency perfectly: ‘My IT department currently has all employees email their tech problems to a generic distribution list in Outlook. The distribution list forwards to all IT guys, where we decide via our inbox who takes ownership of each problem. Is there any way we can replace this method by integrating teams?’

If you have a similar question, here’s the answer: Yes, you can use MS Teams as a help desk to replace the slow & confusing method.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to use MS Teams as a help desk using Social Intents. You’ll also discover a couple of best practices to make using MS Teams for internal help questions even faster. But let me start by expanding upon why you should even bother switching.

Why using Microsoft Teams as a Help Desk can benefit your business

If your employees are already using Microsoft Teams for internal communication, it makes sense to have them get support from your help desk support team right from within Microsoft Teams. Here’s why:

It’s easy to use

Firstly, you won’t need to train your employees to use a help desk tool because they are already familiar with MS Teams. Just like they send a message to other channel members, they can send a help request to your support team ⁠— there’s only one minor difference: they’ll need to send the message through the Social Intents’ live chat window in the channel.

(The Social Intents window in MS Teams)

Besides, even if the members are new to MS Teams, it’s pretty straightforward to use. Like the fellow 145 million active users, your employees will familiarise themselves with Teams in no time.

Number of MS Teams active users

It streamlines conversations

If you aren’t using MS Teams as a help desk, it means you likely use one of these three options:

  1. MS Teams channels: Do not mistake communicating in an MS Teams channel as communicating in MS Teams help desk. There are a few subtle differences: 
    • If you use Teams channels to solve queries, all other channel members can see the conversation. It can distract them.
    • Let’s say if you just add a request in the channel, and an agent gets back to you privately. In that case, if many people from different teams ask queries, it becomes hard for the agent to keep track of all issues. Moreover, agents will need to discuss internally who’ll chat with whom. Also, if they want to forward the chat to another relevant agent, it’ll be impossible because it’s a private conversation.
  2. A help desk software: Help desk software is the ideal solution for support requests. However, it’ll mean your employees will have to go back and forth between the help desk and MS Teams.
  3. Email: Email’s the worst of all. The Reddit question I mentioned in the introduction describes it the best.

When you use MS Teams as a help desk, your employees won’t face any issues like with these three.

They’ll have a streamlined conversation ⁠— here’s how it’ll go:

Step 1: Your employee sends a help request through the Social Intents window in MS Teams.

Step 2: The help desk team sees the request in their Teams channel.

Step 3: An agent picks up the request and starts chatting.

Step 4: The agent replies and the employee gets a notification in the Teams.

Step 5: Both converse and resolve the problem. Plus, the agent also has the option to re-assign or forward the conversation to a more suitable agent if needed.

It’s conversational and human

We (subconsciously) use “professional” language in our emails or during traditional help desk support sessions, even with co-workers. On the other hand, MS Teams chats are natural and free-flowing, i.e., more human.

So when you introduce help desk chats in MS Teams, naturally, the communication will be more human because it’ll seem like a chat between co-workers rather than a chat with some service agent.

Note: The difference between the conversations on, say, email and MS Teams is particularly noticeable in large organizations. For example, an employee is more likely to ask about the floor/office of the agent in an MS Teams chat than an email.

How Microsoft Teams as a Help Desk Works

As an example of what this would look like in action, let’s say that you have a large organization that needs to offer tech support to different departments or teams within your company. In this scenario, you could add a Help Desk Support tab that displays your Live Chat directly inside any of your Team Channel.

Now, any employee could chat with your tech support team privately without posting to a larger public team, eliminating the hassle of sorting and searching through chats.

Then there’s the tech support team side. The support team will receive a request in the set channel, and one of them will accept the chat request. 

The progress of the chat ⁠— alongside some essential live chat metrics ⁠—  can be seen under the Live Chat Console - Queued chats, Active chats, Chat history.

Best Practices For Using MS Teams As a Help Desk 

1. Pre-make channels for internal support

The way MS Teams as help desk works, if you send a message from a channel with multiple members, all other members get notified when the agent replies.

To avoid disturbing others, create a separate channel(s) to talk with the support team(s). For example, I made a private team with different channels (with just me as the member) for HR support, IT support, and General Support:

Now, whenever I need help, I can go to the relevant channel and chat with the department. 

Pretty neat, right?

2. Use canned responses

Canned responses are pre-written replies support agents use to decrease response time. 

With Social Intents, you can set & send live chat canned responses from Microsoft Teams. So, your agents can use them to resolve common internal queries quickly. 

For example, let’s say there’s one printer per floor at your organization. If it breaks, likely, many employees will ask the general help desk about it. In such a case, the help desk can have a canned response ready, so they don’t have to type “Sorry for your inconvenience! I’ve forwarded the request for a new printer...” every time.

Related read:Live chat etiquette rules for support teams.

Configure your Help Desk Tab in Microsoft Teams

Setting up a help desk in Microsoft Teams is simple.  Here are a few key steps to get started.

1.  Create your Live Chat Standalone URL

You can create a standalone chat url to add your Live Chat to any link, email signature, or social media post. In this case, we're creating the url for use in a Website Tab in Teams.

First, access your Live Chat “Chat Settings” by going to the Live Chat tab on the left sidebar in Teams (once you've added our live chat app to teams). Scroll down until you see the “Standalone Chat URL.” The first time you go here, you will choose a unique short name for your live chat. Once saved, we'll great your chat URL using this name.

In our case, you see that our standalone URL is:

2. Add the Website Tab app to your team

Now go to your team where you'd like to have users chat with you using our live chat and click on the '+' button on the top of the team to add an app.    Then search for Website, since you are adding a reference to your standalone chat url.

Then paste your Standalone Chat URL into the website location:

3. Now you have a Help Desk tab that displays your Live Chat

Now others in your team can chat with you using the live chat app.  You can route your live chat to any other team or channel so that members chatting from this Tab don't have to have access to the Team you're actually answering