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.