While 78% of senior leadership agree that customer service representatives are vital for customer satisfaction and long-term retention, less than 30% of agents say they are empowered to do their jobs well.
So where’s the disconnect?
There’s many factors at play here, but much of it stems from a lack of adequate training or appropriate workloads. When evaluating a help desk or customer service provider, you should take care to understand the certifications held by—and training provided for—agents at that call center.
Understanding what certifications your help desk has can help you ensure your provider is a trusted partner for your brand. Call centers can have certifications for the call center as a whole (such as PCI or HIPAA compliance) or for individual agents. Your call center should have both! If your industry has specific compliance certifications, then those are obviously a must. But what about when there aren’t clear requirements?
We’ll walk you through ten of the most important help desk certifications. While not every help desk will have all of these, they’re important to look out for and ask about, and can give you clear insight into the focus on training and compliance of each potential call center provider.
10 Certifications Your Help Desk Should Have in 2023
From security, privacy, network maintenance, customer care, troubleshooting skills and more, help desk support technicians have a highly complex role that reaches across many skill sets. As such, having the appropriate certifications can help you ensure that your agents are well-trained and can provide quality service for your customers.
Here are 10 certifications to look for when evaluating help desk technicians skills and call center quality:
At minimum, your call center should be PCI compliant. This certification ensures that your call center has achieved the data security standards outlined by the payment card industry, designed to offer advanced protection against fraud and security breaches. PCI compliant call centers are more likely to have secure networks, use advanced security software and have employees who are regularly trained and updated on current security measures.
In today’s world, hackers and malware have become more advanced, and more frequent, so cybersecurity should be a top concern for all businesses, particularly those operating within sensitive industries such as FinTech or legal services. As a result, PCI compliance is a must.
Any organization collecting personal health data from clients will need to find a HIPAA-compliant call center. HIPAA compliance has two facets: privacy and security.
The privacy aspect of HIPAA compliance regulates how private health information should be recorded, stored and shared with other providers or vendors. The security aspect regulates how private health information is shared and stored in order to prevent breaches and maintain privacy.
HIPAA compliant call centers will not only manage HIPAA compliance for data—such as advanced data encryption, appointment-setting and records protections, secure messaging and so on—but will also provide ongoing training and compliance verification tests for agents.
ROI CX Solutions is HIPAA HITRUST compliant, ensuring that we meet the highest level of HIPAA compliance to provide the utmost security and privacy for your clients and patients. And by providing ongoing training and testing to agents, we ensure that the highest standards are kept up day-in and day-out, so you—and your patients—can have peace of mind.
Soc-2 Compliance is another must-have for any business looking for a call center provider—or building a help desk in-house. SOC stands for “System and Organization Controls,” and has three levels—SOC-1, SOC-2, and SOC-3. SOC-2 compliance is most relevant for call centers, as it follows a series of security standards regulating how customer data is collected, stored and shared to ensure confidentiality and security.
The SOC-2 standards cover security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. Official SOC-2 compliance requires an audit completed by a CPA firm, so it’s a good standard to look for. ROI CX Solutions’ SOC-2 compliance ensures that we provide our clients with best-in-class cybersecurity and customer confidentiality, deepening customer trust and ensuring brand equity and security for the future.
While some of these certifications might sound like “nice-to-haves” rather than essentials, keep in mind that cybersecurity attacks are increasing and that a single data breach can undermine your company’s reputation, trust, customer loyalty and bottom line.
Moral of the story: check your call center certifications carefully, and ensure that SOC-2 compliance is among them.
Google IT Support
Google IT support is a great certification for help desk agents at your call center to have. This is a foundational certification that provides a basic level of IT support training for new representatives. Not only will agents learn about networking and security, but they’ll also get the basics of customer care and troubleshooting to ensure that their work is efficient and effective.
Some call centers may require this certification for agents before hiring, or provide it afterwards—either way, it’s a good sign that agents at your call center will understand foundational technical support.
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There are actually eight different types of HDI certifications, sorted out by different types of roles, such as Customer Service Representative, Support Center Director, Desktop Advanced Support Technician and more. As a result, HDI certification is something undergone by individual agents, and a call center that hires HDI certified agents—or provides HDI certification training—is a good indication that your call center employs high-quality agents.
HDI Certifications focus on skills, leadership, technical knowledge and service quality. While many of the other certifications mentioned focus on privacy and security, HDI certifications focus on quality of service, so they’re an essential certification to have alongside things like PCI or HIPAA compliance.
CompTIA A+ is one of the most essential IT certifications for help desk agents due to its breadth of skills assessed. For example, the CompTIA A+ certification measures skills in troubleshooting, operating systems, digitalization, cloud computing, software, security and privacy, and more. It is one of the more foundational programs that manages to cover both skills-based certifications as well as security, privacy and compliance requirements.
As a result, call centers who train their agents with CompTIA A+ certifications are known to have knowledgeable help desk technicians and skilled compliance experts.
CompTIA Network+ is another desktop and network support certification. It’s platform-neutral, validating technical skills on security, development, maintenance and troubleshooting across any platform. While the CompTIA A+ certification is more focused on support skills, the Network+ certification is more focused on network issues that may affect customer service tools and support networks. As a result, it’s a bit more high-level, and isn’t essential for every support technician. Rather, it’s a critical element for some members of your call center to have in order to ensure security and stability.
Because the certification is only valid for three years, technicians and support desk agents must continually upskill and undergo ongoing training to keep their certification valid, helping you ensure that your team stays up to date on technology’s ongoing changes.
The ITIL Foundation certification is a great basic certification that focuses on the foundations of customer support and help desk tools. While some certifications focus primarily on the technical skills involved with IT or help desk support, the ITIL certification also spends time on soft skills and customer service skills, necessary skills for help desk agents to master.
Even better, the ITIL Foundation has extended modules and certifications that are role- and organization-specific, so you can ensure your team has the essential knowledge necessary depending on how your organization and technology are designed. The ITIL Foundation program is also a bit broader than some other help desk certifications, so it can give agents a better understanding of the broader context of IT, allowing them to provide better and more effective service.
The CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) certifications is one of the best advanced IT support certifications.
Two major things distinguish it from many of the other certifications on this list:
- It’s vendor-specific, meaning it’s designed for IT help desk technicians who will ultimately be servicing customers who are using Cisco products.
- It’s an advanced certification, requiring at least one year of experience with Cisco products and some foundational skills before beginning the certification.
As a result, this certification may or may not be essential for your organization. For customers or clients who use Cisco products or services, this is a must-have, as it will ensure your agents and technicians are fully trained on the networks, programmability, security and functions of your services.
Similarly, the Microsoft certifications are a series of certifications focused on Microsoft products. Previously, these were known as the MCSA, MCSE, and MCSD certifications, but Microsoft has since retired those certifications and adjusted their offerings to focus on role-based certifications. Now, IT professionals and help desk technicians can earn certifications that align more closely with their role and necessary job functions.
If your customer or client base is working with Microsoft networks, products or services, then these certifications will be essential for your help desk. This is commonly seen at university help desk support lines, as many universities and higher education organizations rely on Microsoft products and services to connect their university programs and networks.
While there are many to choose from, the Azure Administrator Associate, Azure Solutions Architect Expert and Azure Security Engineer Associate are three of the most foundational Microsoft Certifications for IT support technicians.
At the end of the day, customer service and technical support are complex, multi-faceted roles that require specialized training and certifications. To ensure that your provider is setting your organization up for customer experience success, start by evaluating their certifications and their agent training.
- Does your provider offer adequate training and support for agents?
- Do agents hired by your provider have the training and certifications necessary to demonstrate skills and experience in the field?
- Is your provider offering ongoing training and upskilling support to keep agents learning and growing?
All of these questions can help you ensure you’re working with a trusted provider who will continue to provide excellent service for years to come. In addition, pay special attention to any certifications and training unique to your industry, products or services, and ensure that your team has the necessary certifications in those areas. While a help desk provider with general experience can offer some benefit, there’s no substitute for experience within your industry.
When it comes to help desk support, you don’t want to skimp on experience. Trusted help desk providers, like ROI CX Solutions, ensure that your customers receive the benefits of advanced training and industry-specific certifications. Not sure your Help Desk is providing the best support for your clients?
Reach out to an expert at ROI CX Solutions today and get connected with a Help Desk provider you can trust.