This week I had the tables turned on me–had to call a help desk to request a minor change to my login account. The helpdesk I call is in a different time zone, so when I called on a brisk winter morning in England it would have still been the middle of the night for the helpdesk.

The phone rang about ten times then was answered by a voice that wasn’t trying at all to hide the fact that I had awakened him. Remembering being in the same situation at one time, I went easy on him and explained what I wanted to happen.
Because I had an accent different from his, he seemed to have a lot of difficulty in understanding me. His way of responding to me was usually a monosyllabic “Huh?”  or sometimes a more ambitious “Uhuh!”

Given that I work in a rural location, the signal strength of my cell phone isn’t usually terribly good so I’m used to repeating myself. But I wasn’t amused or impressed to observe that the main reason for the lack of comprehension wasn’t telephone mush or my accent but a late-night shock jock blaring out of the radio on his desk.

I had very little confidence that my request had been logged correctly and asked him if he had got it all down. It involved entering the IMEI number of my phone into a call logging system and it had to be accurate. I would have made a point of double-checking that I had made a correct note of the number before closing the call but this guy just said OK and hung up. I didn’t have a ticket number or his name so I had very little confidence that my request would be fulfilled correctly.
I toyed with the idea of calling back to check that the call had been logged, but work and geography put an end to that idea, I drove into a valley and lost signal.

Next time I was back in a reception area my phone rang. It was the second line support calling to ask what I wanted them to do. I was a little annoyed since I’d already given a full explanation. The tech read the text of the helpdesk call to me:
“Guy called from England, wanted something setting up on user account, please call on ####.”
You can imagine how impressed I was. I’m considering offering my services as a helpdesk trainer, and I shall certainly be recording my calls to them in the future.

What this really highlights to me is that employers don’t often place any importance on the quality of first-line support. The help desk used to be an active part of first-line support. Now, more and more, they are just call takers and eventually they will be replaced by an internet kiosk. No more first time fixes for me!