IT Policies

Help your end-users make Help Desk calls the right way

If you've managed a Help Desk for very long, you know the frustrations your staff feels when dealing with callers who can be irritable and demanding. It helps to counsel your staffers to keep their calm and explain things patiently to the caller, but it may also help to give your end-users some tips for making a Help Desk call more productive. Make a copy of these guidelines and post it on your company intranet.

If you've managed a Help Desk for very long, you know the frustrations your staff feels when dealing with callers who can be irritable and demanding. It helps to counsel your staffers to keep their calm and explain things patiently to the caller, but it may also help to give your end-users some tips for making a Help Desk call more productive. Make a copy of these guidelines and post it on your company intranet:

If you use technology, sooner or later you're going to be calling a Help Desk. In those situations, you're at a disadvantage, undoubtedly already frustrated with the hardware or software problem you're having and not in a frame of mind to proceed methodically and ask good questions. But the quality of your Help Desk experience will be very dependent on your ability to manage the call!

Here are six tips for getting what you need from a Help Desk operator, without blowing your stack.

1. For starters, don't blast the tech support person when s/he picks up the phone. In a pleasant tone of voice, ask for the tech's first and last name and have them spell it for you. Most tech-support operators will give you their name without hesitation if you ask for it, calmly and cheerfully, at the beginning of the conversation. If you wait until later in the call, your chances of getting a name plummet, so do this as soon as your call is answered. Write down the operator's name along with the date and time of your call.

2. Next, before you begin describing your problem, ask the tech if s/he has logged a ticket for your call. If not, ask them to log the ticket and give you the ticket number. Write it down! They cannot delete a call once a ticket number has been assigned.

3. Explain your problem without rushing through it, and realize that you may not be speaking to the person who can actually help you. Quite often, you'll be talking to a pre-screener whose job is to decide where the call needs to go. If you hear "I am transferring you now," get the tech's direct number in case your call is dropped (this happens often)!

4. After your explanation, and a wait, and a transfer, you'd expect to finally be connected to a technician who can solve your problem, right? But that's not always what happens. You may be transferred to a first-line agent who has access to a help desk knowledge base. Ask for this person's name and write it down. Explain your problem again using key words (e.g. Outlook vs. Microsoft, "I cannot connect to the internet" not "My internet is down.") They will be typing in your comments as you speak, to see what comes up in their database. Often they can bring up a document to help you out. Be patient; these employees are trained to follow the document word for word. If you have already tried what they are asking you to do, you might as well resign yourself to doing it all again as they cannot pass you up the ladder till they go through their checklist.

5. If/when it becomes apparent that this person cannot help you, ask for your call to be escalated. If you have been polite and cooperative up to this point, they will usually pass the call on. If that doesn't happen, ask to speak to a supervisor, but be ready: this is where things can get ugly really fast. But you have their name (remember) and your ticket number, so if they "accidentally" hang up on you, you can call back, give your ticket number explain to that agent that you were just hung up on (remembering to get their name first) and repeat your request for a supervisor. I have only had one agent "lose" me at this late point in the process, and I received not only a letter of apology from the supervisor, but got free memory for the computer I was working on! All of that happened because I had names, times and my ticket number so their documentation backed up my story.

6. Above all, be patient, ask for another agent if you cannot understand the one you're talking to, and treat it as an adventure into another culture! LOL

3 comments
VGEI
VGEI

The topic of this article does not match the content. You've basically spelled out how to deal with foreign phone support and poor service from a bad 800#. Helping the end user make calls the right way should contain information for the end user on how to capture the problem. Explain to them how to write down the error message as it appears on screen or summarize the error/problem and the actions that were in effect before the error/problem occured. To many times users call a help desk (local not remote crappy service) that is in house and will be the service agent on the call and provide shoddy information that takes several minutes to decipher. You should have focused your article on helping the user make a clear and consice call to support with the information needed to get the tech working on the problem asap, not playing 20 questions as to what the problem actually is.

UAnimosity
UAnimosity

I work on a 2nd Level technical desk, and the main process is our helpdesk takes the inital (screened call) and sends it to the support or technical desks. If they can't solve it the call is usually forwarded to me. However, I will never give out my direct number (only the IT Director and above have that). The reason being is once internal users get my direct line, they start dialing it directly and jump the line. Most helpdesk staff that care about the customer's problem want to resolve it for you. the problem is when you work in a company with 1000+ people and you're involved in projects for remote offices, you can't drop everything and take the call. Thats the whole reason there's a queue system. There's also Service Level Agreements and escalations as well that can become problematic. My basic advice would be to log the call info yourself (names, times), ask what the SLA is for your problem (if one exists) and if you don't feel your call is being resolved fast enough or you're losing money out of your own pocket, escalate through your office manager.

Your Mom 2.0
Your Mom 2.0

Like bvalles, I was expecting info about how to help users provide useful info to Helpdesk through screen-caps, writng down specific errors, provide appropriate background info about the problem, avoiding saying "my computer just blew up" when it didn't literally explode, etc. Article was well written and contained useful advice, though. After reading it I see the article is geared toward helping IT deal with situations where IT becomes the end-user to their vendor's support helpdesk. This makes more sense if you think about it, because TR is geared to IT people not end-users. Info about how to deal with vendor helpdesk support calls is actually more useful info to have, in my opinion. I've been on the receiving end of a support call much more often than the sending end, and I know my users well enough to realize that their computers didn't just "blow up" like they said they did. However, I'm not often in the position where I am the one asking for help. Knowing how to get the desired results from a call to tech support is great info. for all levels of IT. I'd like to suggest making a title tweak just to avoid any further confusion (or snarky comments).

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