IT Policies optimize

The importance of live logging

Do you take notes and log later or do you live log your help desk calls? Here's why you should live log

Yesterday, I was yet again reminded of the importance of getting into the habit of live logging help desk calls. For anyone who is not familiar with the term, "live logging" means keying the information into the call logging system as the call is in progress, rather than noting the details on a piece of paper. I called our help desk and reported a fault. The call taker promised to call me back later with the ticket number, but the call never came. I called back to find there was no call logged, the support department knew nothing about the problem, and my customer was still waiting. The reason?

The scrap of paper with my fault details written on it had been the casualty in an early morning coffee-spilling incident and all the information was lost.

The problem with writing calls down is that sometimes another call will come in before you have been able to enter the previous one, and if there is a rush of calls, the piece of paper can be buried and lost.

If you key the information directly, you won’t need a pen, each call will take less time to log, one call won’t run into another, and you can check for mistakes while the customer is still on the line. A poorly written figure may well be recorded incorrectly, and there will be a delay in getting help to the user.

If you log the call when the customer is still on the line, you can make sure that this job is completed before you start the next one. It genuinely takes less time, even though it can seem that you are delaying the next call.

In my last help desk job, the department manager made a practice of patrolling the help desk and removing pens and notepads in order to encourage live logging and less note taking. This was not always helpful if you had been taking notes on a call, as it wasn’t always possible to log every tiny detail on the system.

Taking notes can lead to a kind of Chinese whispers; if you hurry, your writing may not be clear and any mistake you make can be propagated when transcribed to the system. When it comes to calling the user back, the lack of a correct phone number or a misspelt name can leave you struggling. If the information is passed to another agent, he or she may not always be able to read your writing.

11 comments
Hogie51
Hogie51

Logging the info/notes is part of the call. It's not over until that's done, so why not do it as you go? It's a style thing that goes along with the "never enough time to do right, but always enough to do it over" mentality. When you do anything (paint a room, cook a meal) you can clean up at the end or as you go, but the clean up has to occur before the job is done. Luckily we're human and can choose to unlearn the less efficient and learn the more efficient. We click open a text box when we start the call and log until it's done. The time the text box is open is the length of the call. It stays in the background if we're doing other things, but it's always open until we're done. Catastrophes do happen, and paper is always there, but we don't have to add to them.

netconsult
netconsult

We have improved our response by going to a system where the customers can enter a Service Request into a web based tool and the name, location, and phone are preloaded (according to their login) so unless they need to enter an alternative number in their comments you take that error out of the equation. We still have a call center for those who want to talk to someone or cannot figure out who to ask for in an online request.

Joe_R
Joe_R

Can't tell you how many little pieces of paper and post-it notes with necessary information written on them that I've lost. Good piece.

robertsh
robertsh

I do agree that live logging prevents a lot of the illegible and occassional coffee mishaps that can befall the prelogged, hand-written ticket, but it also has a negative impact on the number of calls you can actually answer. During high volume call times (a system go-live day) for example, our IT director wants us to personally pickup as many calls as possible. It is just a fact that people in general do not like to leave voicemail and have negative impressions about it. I couldn't tell you how many voicemails I spend the time to pickup that end with the user just hanging up. We rarley pass handwritten notes on to other techs, so the only person I have to be concerned with reading my "scrawls" is me. I have to admit that there have been times when that was a chore. I tend to live log on slower shifts, but I still use the trusty pen and notepad during busy times. I think I will experiment with going an entire shift doing only live logging. Old habits are hard to break though.

baberuthless
baberuthless

I have found that logging the call while you are on it is the best way to ensure that all details of the call are documented. Besides, I type much quicker than I can write by hand and my typing is much more legible. I don't have to look at the keys or the screen to do it so it is very helpful to me. Otherwise, I have a coil book that all details of a call go in - never a post it note or stray piece of paper. This way, if I am for some reason unable to live log, I have all the pertinanent details to enter into the log ASAP so that if the user calls back, the other analysts are able to assist them. I'm in a new position now though so I don't know how well live logging will work since much of the work is done in person or through VNC.

jascc1
jascc1

...A Hybrid Approach with pen and paper may have to work to. I also don't like checking VM (I swear at least 25% of calls are hang-ups) or having the impression leaving VM has with an end user. Good points from both of you.

wfs1946
wfs1946

Some people just don't have the capability to be able to talk and type at the same time, it isn't quite the same as chewing gum and walking with are both actions done without thought. When you have a customer that is very frustrated on the phone you want to give them your fullest attention to try to calm them down to get sensible information out of them, you don't need to be typing and taking away your concentration from the customer. I had forms created with fields on it for the proper information, name, phone number, etc., they are on a pad and stay together until each is torn off. Notes can be taken, get the customer off the phone and fill in a ticket faster between calls. When you have a supervisor who defines voicemail as unacceptable to the customer, sometimes writing is your only choice. We have a near zero dropped call rate for a customer base of almost 12,000. At 300 - 400 calls a day, that isn't too bad for writing down the information.

Joe_R
Joe_R

What about after the call, but before the next?

Mr_Fen
Mr_Fen

Like Baberuthless i have a A4 sized day diary and regularly scribble notes down when talking to end users, its much quicker than waiting for systems to catch up or switching fields and windows. It also means i can find that users ticket when they call a few days later but can't remember their reference number.

Van Swearingen
Van Swearingen

In a busy center that time amounts to about eight seconds. Not enough time to transcribe. Just enough time to close or escalate before the next call is dispatched by the ACD.

Joe_R
Joe_R

But it seems like the best of two bad choices