Having been a bit hard on our helpdesk the other day I feel I have to put things right. There was a record in my database that I couldn’t clear because some of the required options weren’t available. When I close a call I have to select a problem category and a problem type but with this particular job, the drop-down menus were empty.

This time the call was answered promptly and I was asked for my login ID, within a couple of seconds I was being addressed by name. The guy was cheerful, sounded confident and was polite.

He finished the call with: “That’s great, I’ll pass your call onto the XXX Support team and they will call you back shortly.” He bid me a good day and rang off. Although he didn’t do anything different to the previous tech I dealt with, his manner and tone of voice led me to believe that my problem would be dealt with and, sure enough, fifteen minutes later I got a call from the database support team, who had all the details to hand and resolved the situation quickly.

I was struck by the difference in attitude and tone, and that he had logged the fault as I described it and seemed to know what system I was talking about, although there is no real reason why he should.

It is important that the public face of the IT department represents us in a friendly and professional manner. The users out in the field don’t know about most of the work we do to keep things running sweetly. What they do see is the indifferent sounding helpdesk techs and the condescending tone of some techs. One off-message worker can damn the whole department in the eyes of the end user and remember, these end users will include the people who make the buying decisions, people who decide whether the new equipment will be bought or if that long awaited pay rise will manifest itself. When we pick up the phone, we don’t know if the caller is the company president or the guy who mops the rest rooms. Either way we must treat them fairly, kindly, and with courtesy.