Does your help desk write down notes on paper before logging them to the system or do they live log? Do your help desk tickets suffer from “Chinese Whispers”? The answer is to set up your logging system so that you log accurately and are prompted to ask the right questions.


The problems with note taking are that you have to race to log the call before the next one comes in, you lose bits of paper, and you hurriedly take notes that can hardly be read later.

The problem I had with the last call I took before going home for Christmas was that the call taker had got his or her bits of paper mixed up. My call was a customer in New Forest in Hampshire, but it arrived on my PDA bearing the phone number and contact name of an estate agent from West Yorkshire. Now I’m as conscientious as the next person, but there is no way that I will be driving over 300 miles to Yorkshire on Christmas Eve. I called the customer, and it was at that point I found that the number and name were wrong.

Getting the detail wrong is not only annoying, but it can be downright embarrassing. Take the occasion when I called a customer’s building and asked for the person listed on the call. The receptionist burst into tears. It turned out that the person I had asked for no longer worked for the company; in fact, she was dead. What made it worse was that I arrived just after the rest of the company had returned from her funeral. The person who placed the call had been given the name of the person who had placed the call but didn’t bother to change the one that was already on the call. Worse than that, the phone number I was given was wrong and had not been checked.

I would suggest that we do two things here: first I would have no pre-filled fields in the call logging system, and second, I would make it a condition of employment that all calls are lived logged and note taking would not be permitted unless there is a system failure preventing calls from being logged.

I would script the call logging process so that the right questions were asked and the answers were checked.

I would teach techniques for checking details: a good way to get a customer to repeat a name is to ask them to spell it; this works well unless the name is a simple one like “Smith.” With the large number of eastern European workers in the UK at the moment, it is a matter of courtesy to ensure that you check not only your spelling but the pronunciation as well!

Read back phone numbers to give the customer the chance to correct it. Our call takers promise the caller that the field tech will call them, but over 50 percent of the time, the number is not correct. Getting the small details right makes the hard job of fixing the fault a lot easier.