My constant gripe with help desk call logging systems is that you get a lot of unnecessary information with them but the vital stuff is often left out. I've been thinking about what I would make required fields if I were to design a job ticket myself.
There are bits of information that you really need when you review a call ticket, bits of info that must be in the call — some that are helpful and some that, frankly, nobody knows why they are recorded.
Things that must be included in the log:
- Caller's name and phone number. It might seem obvious, but you would not credit the number of tickets that have come my way with no contact info on them. It doesn't leave me much room to maneuver; the only thing that I can do is wait for them to complain that I haven't arrived so that I can respond. I also like to have the name of the person I am to see, rather than the person who signs the checks. In the past we had a problem with the logging system where the name of the previous person to log a call appeared by default in the logging screen. A moment of laziness led to some highly embarrassing moments when I arrived at a job and asked for the person whose funeral the staff had just returned from. I never want to feel that awkward again.
- Caller's location or address. I don't need to know the address of the department that pays the bill, the person who signed the original order, or the company's head office. I need to know where the equipment is that I have to look at. Again, it sounds obvious, but this has happened so often it hurts.
- The equipment affected. If the customer has several of our products, it is important to send an engineer who is qualified on that particular equipment.
- A full but concise description of the fault. I would prefer the call taker to let go and write more here rather than anywhere in the log. Writing "Not working" or "Making a funny noise" isn't much help to me.
- The company name that I am looking for. The name of the parent company is not helpful. I need to know the name that they are trading under, so that I know which door to knock on. It surprises me how many companies trade under another name to the one they use for paying bills and how hard it is to get our help desk to understand the importance to a field engineer.
Things that are useful in the log
- An idea of the age of the equipment. If a problem is occurring with a new machine it could be anything; old, worn-out machines have fairly predictable problems. Also, there is nothing to be gained by lavishing hours of care on a machine that is two days from the end of its lease, a quick fix will do in these circumstances.
- The usage it was being put to. If an address printer is jamming with C5 envelopes, it is not helpful to test it with DLs. It takes a lot of experience to learn the right questions to ask, but asking them can save a lot of time.
- Has this happened before?
- And more importantly, how did I fix it last time?
Things that are there only to confuse me:
- The customer's account number.
- A twenty-five digit reference number that relates to a back office system that I have no access to.
- The name, address, and phone number of the person who placed the order five years ago.