General discussion


Help Desk - beyond the call of duty

By house ·
How far should a help desk representative go in providing end-user support?

I have to deal with this every-single-day. Right now, one of my jobs is to troubleshoot "internet connectivity". I don't mind going the extra mile to help them set up their cheap routers, hubs, switches, VoIP gateways, etc. I run into problems where people think that it is my job to be their network admin. They cry about "too many wires" and other things that are beyond my control (if they aren't cooperating) and not really in my job description.

Don't take that "job description" comment the wrong way... the thing is, we don't offer that level of support because the phone is ringing off the hook all day. When we start getting into home networks, people tend to lie about their setup just to sabotage my effort towards a help desk resolution. Some people honestly can't be bothered - they demand that one of us goes over there to physically fix their problem. Once again, "internet connectivity" is the key word here. After that, it is above and beyond the call of duty. We do however, offer subnetting and internal network support to our commercial clients - but "they pay" for that level of support.


We even receive the fallout from other ISP's. If they have their internet with a separate company, and the other people find out that they have one of our VoIP gateways, the internet provider refuses to help them. The device acts as a router, so there is no reason for their ISP to deny them service. We end up helping them with their internet connection because - we are just that nice.

We have to bounce the user back and forth to clear the host, retrieve DNS numbers, etc. This makes everyone look bad on both sides. Just today, I had to walkthrough the "Winsock" fix to get a 98 machine back online. They don't even have our internet service... meanwhile, our customers are calling non-stop, staying on the line, and listening to crappy music that instills rage and frustration.


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It's a delema

by jdmercha In reply to Help Desk - beyond the ca ...

You have to find the balance somewhere. If you want to keep your customers, and have them reccommend you to their friends, then you have to do whatever it takes. However, if whatever it takes affects the bottom line, then either prices go up or services go down.

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That is the dilema...

by house In reply to It's a delema

...We undercut any VoIP, internet, hosting, etc - service provider. Our prices will not go up. Our level of support is second to none, but during peek hours, a customer can stay on the line for a little longer than we'd like.

We do actually snag a lot of people from other ISPs. They are (for the most part) very impressed with our service.

The ones who complain are the same ones who go NSF every other month on their pre-auths. The owners are quick to defend the techs - they won't hesitate to drop an annoying customer and tell them to "F" off. Literally. It's actually pretty funny sometimes.

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Well the only part way easy answer here

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to That is the dilema...

Is to seperate the Help Desk from the main company and expect it to run at a loss and budget accordingly.

After all if the Help Desk is proactive in picking up new customers it is really paying for itself.

While I know it is a pain in the rear end I've worked for companies who firmly believed that the service side of the business was only there for the customers benefit and to attract new customers by the excellent service that we offered. I was even disciplined on one occasion for making too much money.

But in every case when these companies have changed tack and tried to make the service department make money they have all failed and most are no longer around at any real level if at all. It is one of my pet peeves Accountants running a service business they can not help but muck things up and while initially they have a good bottom line this always disappears after the second year and it adversely affects sales which is the main reason why the company is there in the first place.

One company that I worked for did something that I'm still unable to fathom as I was selling far too many of the light industrial units to the sector of the market which previously had only bought domestic units instead of upping production they stopped all that line. Eventually they sold off the production tools for that line and I started selling those units again but from a different supplier and when the World Wide Marketing Manager approached me about this he was horrified that I preferred to sell these units rather than domestic units which failed with alarming regularity and what made things even worse was that the new supplier was making a bundle when the original maker could not even break even on that line of product.

If I was controlling where you are to prevent any long waits I would seperate the different divisions budget accordingly for the help desk to not make a single cent from domestic customers and put on more staff with at least 2 different help lines one for the business customer and one for the domestic customer. While the help desk staff would still be all together the business lines would get a higher priory when things where hectic.

But the real goal of any service side of any business is in generating "New Sales" which allows the company to grow and prosper while still maintaining your good name.


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Bill it

by graeme In reply to Help Desk - beyond the ca ...

We have a volume rule. If a customer meets a certain volume of revenue with us in a year we will do the 5 min courtesy things. For the rest who don't deserve the free 5 mins......

When we are getting someone else's *** out a sling we warn up front that it is billable - tell them why - and then bill it. Many are simply happy to pay to have you guide them through the mess - even though it is really someone else's problem.

Our one client that did not like it and didn't pay the bill this year doesn't get any support. Funny - they dropped off a computer this weekend of an emergency repair. They included a check for past due PLUS what they estimated the repair was likely to cost this time.

People will pay for good service. Just be honest and make sure they know in advance what thy are going to pay.

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We do

by house In reply to Bill it

That's funny... actually, we charge $55 for a house call.

The "real" problem starts with people who think that the world owes them something. It is hard to convince these people of the line that is drawn between troubleshooting the internet connection and servicing their computer.

I love helping out our commercial clients because we go on site and fix the mess in 2 minutes. They are always so grateful. It makes "end-user" support seem worthwhile sometimes.

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And then you have the Domestic House Calls

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to We do

I vividly remember one call out where I was insistent about a certain item and then after being assured that this had been done I headed out. Well 3 hours latter when I eventually found the address I just walked in spent all of 2 minutes doing what I had been assured had already been done while I was on the phone and then gave her the bill which she objected to as I had not spent long enough repairing the problem.

That woman actually made an official complaint about me only taking 2 minutes to fix her problem and wanted a refund. Luckily I had a very precise phone log which showed that I had on numerous occasions told her how to fix her problem and even told her that I didn't want to come out to only spend 2 minutes fixing her problem.

My final suggestion was we would give her a refund for the service call if she agreed-ed to pay for my time away from the office which she at first jumped at until she found out that I had only charged her a minimum call out fee and at the then normal labor rates she would have been up for at least 5 times as much in my wasted time. For some unknown reason she chose to accept just the call out fee and not pay for my wasted time.

Business call outs are just so much better as you can walk in and ask what have they done to stuff up the machine and they appreciate your work in fixing up the mess but the domestic side is a different kettle of fish for some reason the domestic clients seem to think that once you go out there they own you and you are on constant call for every little problem that arises.


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...and we don't do Domestic anymore....

by graeme In reply to And then you have the Dom ...

....for all of Hal's reasons PLUS:

a one hour - professional support call that produces a good result often also produces 3 or 4 subsequent "just 5 minute" support calls that quickly add up to an unbilled hour.

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How about conference call the ISP?

by Garion11 In reply to Help Desk - beyond the ca ...

Sometimes I receive issues on stuff like this as well...calls that are beyond our control such as the ones you described. To illustrate the point to the customer (point being that we don't control their Internet connection or whatever) I ask the customer to go on a conference call with me so we can speak to the people that do support the application, connectivity, etc. It shows you are willing to do your part and puts the ISP on the spot etc.

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I love doing that

by house In reply to How about conference call ...

I've done that. It makes the third party look an ***. LOL. I love doing that.

The main problem is that other help desks usually have a queue of 10 to 20 minutes. I've got other clients to deal with in that time.

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Not to mention the flat out denials from the other party

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to I love doing that

I had one case where a network that I had installed couldn't get an Internet Connection at all and after repeated calls to their ISP I was defiantly told that the problem was at my end rather than there end. But for some unknown reason everything started working within about 20 minutes of me getting off the phone and making a big song and dance to their ISP.

Of course it must have been something that I had done as the problem couldn't have been fixed at the other end!


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