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How do you get the Help Desk to provide the Help

By HAL 9000 Moderator ·
Now we have a discussion going here about how to talk down irate Customers/End Users but what happens when you run into the same trouble that these irate customers are complaining about?

A few months ago I got hit with a situation where I had 2 sections of the same business blaming the other party for the problem that I was experiencing.

Now this is a 2 part piece of software one side is a Medical Program that stores patient data and the like and the other side is a messaging program to allow bills to be sent to the patients Medical Insurance Company and our Medicare system here. This all occurred because a new computer was installed and I got the install CD for this program along with instructions and ran the install program. Everything installed perfectly without a problem and I transfered the Data across and the new system was up and running Or So I thought.

Late that afternoon I got a phone call to tell me that the surgery couldn't send out the bills. As it was already way to late to go there I arranged to be there first thing next morning to fix the problem I should have known better.

Day 1 I got there rang the supplier and got told that the problem wasn't in the medical program but in the Messenger side of things so I was given the phone number for that part of the company and told to ring them. So far so good after only a 45 minute wait I got through to their Help desk and was immediately told that the problem was with the Medical Program and not their Messaging program.

Now I don't work Medical as a rule because of problems like this but as I was blackmailed into this one I had to get it working ASAP! Several phone calls latter I had got to the stage of discovering that the messenger program wasn't installed in the correct folder apparently the default folder isn't the correct one and you need to install it into a different folder, pity that there was no mention of this in the install documentation. So I removed the Messenger program reinstalled it into the proper directory but it still wasn't working by this time the day had already ended so chalk up one wasted day and one even worse tempered Doctor who wasn't able to send out bills.

Day 2 I arrive there early and rang the messenger side of the business and get the first tier help desk only to be told that it's not their problem it's the other program at fault which by this stage I was sure wasn't the problem. The next 6 hours where spent being bounced between different departments of the same company and I couldn't be transfered I had to ring and wait in a Que. After I was again told that the problem wasn't with their software I got more than slightly upset but I didn't take it out on the Help desk I just said thank you very much and rang a friend. This is where things got interesting as the friend wasn't any Joe but one of the Guys who had originally wrote this software and was now running the company and I explained what had been going on and that I needed a solution. Now this guy has known me for a very long time and knows exactly what I know and how I work so he promised to get it sorted.

Day 3 I get a phone call from the Senior Tech from the Medical Side of the Business and I explain what's been going on give her remote access to the system and let her have a look see. The result is that the Medical program is working perfectly but it's still unable to send out bills.

So she organises with me to get the senior tech from the other devision to ring me and work through the problems. When I get the phone call from this person I find out that they can not remotely access the system so I had to do the work and it's explained to me that this person is fully informed of my abilities and knows that the problem is with the messenger side of the software. The very first question that I'm asked by this person is Can I move a File? I though that this was insulting but said that I was capable of moving the necessary file/s and what did they require moving? I then set about moving every file that was requested created a new folder and so on, after 3 hours of this I was told that the problem wasn't software related but hardware as the Dial Up Modem wasn't working, so I just chose one of the Dial Up connections not the one that was giving problems and dialled into the bank account and got a solid connection. Scratch one theory about the problem so the answer was to delete and recreate the connection again. Easy I deleted the entire connection and recreated it and was told what modifications to make to allow it to work. Nothing so it was suggested that I must have done something wrong so lets start all over again.

I deleted the connection and recreated it again along with all the alterations that I was told to do and again nothing it would dial out but not connect which was the original problem since Monday Afternoon and by now it was Thursday and getting late. By this stage I had the Doctor screaming at me that he was going to go bankrupt the Insurance Companies ringing up wanting to know why no bills had been sent to them for 4 days and God only know who else complaining that there where no bills going out. So again I was told to recreate the connection AGAIN! Again nothing so I suggested deleting the connection recreating it without any changes and trying to see if it would work by this time I had realised that the person who was supposed to be helping me knew even less about this software than me so I deleted the account recreated it and rang out a direct connection was achieved without a second try it went straight in. So I logged off made one alteration and tried again, another direct solid connection without problems so I kept making changes one at a time until it stopped working at which point I found out that the setting was wrong from the so called Help end and of course it had to be the finial setting. So I again deleted the account and recreated it this time with all the alterations up to the last one and sent a test bill through the system. Wallah it worked without a problem or so it appeared, by this time it was way after 5.00 PM so all the companies had shut up shop for the day and I couldn't confirm that the test bill had actually arrived. I got the direct phone number to the person that I was speaking to and told them that if there where any problems I would ring tomorrow.

Day 4 Friday mourning and here I really do mean mourning not morning. I got in there before anyone was opened and sent another test through the system and then placed a call the the receiver to confirm that they had actually received it. Unfortunately I got some underling who wasn't much help and insisted that they would take up to 12 hours to come thought the system so I asked for the person that I had been speaking to the previous day as this account had had a Priority placed on it for any incoming bills or test bills. 2 hours latter when he got into work he rang me back with a confirmation that the 2 test bills had arrived and could I send down the last weeks bills as he was sitting at a terminal and could watch them arrive. 4 days of bills got sent down and all where received we actually worked through them all one at a time just to make sure that everything was working properly. 1 Down 5 to go so I slowly worked my way through all the Health Insurance Companies and the Workers Compensation Department and made sure that everything got through without any problems.

Now I wasted literally 4 days because someone at a Help Desk didn't know their job and what's even worse was giving the wrong directions on software that they worked with and this was the only piece of software that they used so they should have known exactly how it worked. This is a Dial Up only setup so there is no excuse for them not knowing what wasn't happening or why it wasn't working. Once I had got over the problem of constantly being bounced between departments of the same company it was much better but even still it took the better part of an entire day to get working and then the best part of another day to make sure that it was actually working.

Now I don't claim to be an Expert in this software and other than about 12 years ago knowing it fairly well I've tried very hard to forget all about it. This company got lucky as they got me to deal with but any normal person would have hit the roof after the first few hours let along the 4 days wasted because no one could be bothered to actually do their job or even knew their job well enough to give the proper support. The entire thing was a complete disaster right from the initial install with the wrong directions and no one knowing any better.

Besides not knowing who to actually bill for all my wasted time not to mention all the unnecessary frustration so I just forgot about that wasted week. I didn't need any extra frustration in deciding who to bill for all the wasted time.

How would anyone else have dealt with this situation?


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by w2ktechman In reply to How do you get the Help D ...

and I thought that I have had bad helpdesk experiences!
The ones that I have had were less intense, but sometimes taking a long time. Fortunately, I can pass it off to higher managers when I cannot resolve it (or to some of our local programmers).

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I think you did an excellent job

by OnTheRopes In reply to How do you get the Help D ...

I don't believe I would've been able to handle it so well.

Back in the days of MS-DOS I had a Preventative Maintenance program to implement at several Divisions of a $1.5B-USD Corporation. The software was chosen by the CEO on a whim. I had made an informed decision and had a buy in from every department and Division but "the boss is the boss", sometimes. :)

I had spent a lot of time commuting between divisions over several months helping them to build the databases and actually use the software when the software vendor released an update to a Windows version of the software.

The first installation of the update was on a test machine in Kentucky and it did not go well. It shot all of the data to pieces. Of course we had a back-up for the entire program but working with that vendor was no joy. I'm no joy when I have expensive problems either.

After a couple of weeks of having the vendor's programmers on site I finally ended up having their President attend a Corporate Board of Directors meeting to explain what the problems were. I'll be darned if he didn't recommend that a company of our size and complexity use the software I'd originally chosen. :0

At least it wasn't a complete waste of time. We'd gained a lot of data and knowledge that was still useful and "the boss" pretty much just left the PM program alone after that. He was upset that I hadn't argued harder with him when he told me what software to use. I learned to speak my mind with him.

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Well I didn't have much choice

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to I think you did an excell ...

Sitting in a Doctors surgery with patients less that 5 feet away tends to make one be much nicer when all you really want to do is crawl down the phone line and kill someone.

But I think that I would have been still there if I didn't know 2 scruffy programmers from about 12 years previously who saw a need in the market and wrote a program to fill it. I ran into them when they where attempting to get the WP Template to load into a Word Doc back in the Win 3.11 days and helped them as much as possible. I didn't realise that many years latter that, that small amount of help offered to a couple of struggling young programmers would be so useful latter. At that time I think that they had talked about 4 Surgeries into using their software free on a Trial Basis so they could get it suit the requirements. Now they are the biggest in their field and those 2 scruffy programmers are Multimillionaire playboys. :)


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WOW again....

by compootergeek In reply to How do you get the Help D ...

Are you SURE these are HELP DESKs ? Sounds more like you're dealing with SUPPORT STAFF, that should be filtered through a HELP DESK?

Either case, here?s some tips on how I review my calls to a Help Desk .
1)be sure to set up a sense of how urgent your request is (you?re their customer). Whenever possible, identify the amount of money involved with your business issue. If your issue is pushed out into days, be sure to inform them daily of the growing dollar amount that is being backlogged.
2)Always ask what number/priority you are in the help desk queue
3) along the lines of identifying the sense of urgency in your issue (to the helpdesk), be sure that you understand what your service level is to your customer (the Dr.) For instance, does your customer (the Dr) know how long they can expect to wait when YOU are faced with transfer issues?
Does YOUR HelpDesk have a service level agreement at hand for when you are unable to complete ?billing transfers to the bank for a Dr.??
Worse case, at what point will your customer, the Dr., be able to jump in and pull strings to push people to solving the issue?
4)since this issue was regarding a new install, ask the HelpDesk if they are getting other calls from users on the same issue (encourage them to be utilizing their resources of their contact management system - if they're a real HELP DESK, they'll have a searchable system)
Other things to think about:
5) The department that sent you the disk, have they followed-up with you on the release? (was it one of the departments you had to call in to, one of the two Help Desks? if yes, should it be?)
6) Since you located the solution to this issue, do you a path to follow to share your feedback on this issue (your resolution, or proposed improvements)?
7) It?s important to SHARE (document)what you discovered to the deliverers of the problem. Make a move of your own to help them out, and they most likely they will do a better job for you next time.
You documented your situation quite well. One thing to keep in mind when providing feedback on service, is to offer solutions Rather than just telling them the issue you experienced, if you have insight, offer a solution. AND feel free to follow-up with them, especially if the next install you experience is better a better one.
9) if this HelpDesk scenario is common for you at your work place, start focusing on number 3 above

Remember, in most cases the HelpDesk is like the ER (Emergency Room), and those bleeding the most dollars, will obtain attention first (so my peers have told me).
The other thing to understand about HelpDesk, is that some measure the performance of their HelpDesk staff on how FAST they can turn-around the call?what they sometimes fail to see is whether each call was successful, still open, and the impact to business.

Good luck with your future calls.

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Well it actually gets better

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to WOW again....

There was a printed Text file provided with the install CD that was newer than the one on the CD. I checked first before even starting. :)

I was actually trying to keep the Dr away from the support staff as I knew exactly what he would do and as he's a surgeon I wouldn't put it past him to do a full lobotomy on these people with out any OR or anything else other than maybe a rusty Scalpel.

I was actually forced into this job but this guy standing over me making a cut and then hitting me for a job to be done. It's very hard to say NO to someone when they are standing over you with a scalpel in their hand and cutting away. :^0

I originally tried asking for a priority number but only got the voice mail of the persons involved as they didn't want to answer the calls. I think that they knew that they had a problem and didn't have an answer so they where trying to avoid me. Unfortunately for them they didn't know that I was friends with the Bosses.

My biggest problem here is that I don't do medical work any more so I was more than willing to admit that I knew next to nothing about this particular piece of software. But what's scary is when the head of the Medical side of the business tells you that they have been there 6 years and don't know how it works either. Maybe she was just trying to make me feel better or was thanking me for keeping their customer away from her. I'm not sure if it was one or the other or a combination of both. :0

There was actually no money being lost directly but it was slowing up possible payment by a few days after all the bills where going to eventually get through and be paid no matter how long that they had been held up so it was really more of Nuisance Value rather than direct finical loss. But to be honest I did try to get an older install copy and run with that and just allow them to upgrade the program as required after it was working. Unfortunately the Dr didn't think it important to keep old copies of the CD's for this program or at least I couldn't find them at his Surgery or Home.

Personally I think that this was a bug with their latest pressings and this was the first time that they had run into the problem. After all they don't tend to sell a lot of this stuff to new clients they have a steady Customer Base who they have contracts with which are effectively open ended every 6 months or so they remotely log in and update the program which they could already do but that doesn't affect the Messenger side of things. Honestly if I had of known the program better I would have picked up the error when I first recreated the dial up account as looking back it's easy to see where things where going wrong but at the time I just thought that this is the way that it works and they should know what they are doing. Yes I know Better but what can I say it's their software and they should know how it works.

If things had not have got fixed by the end of the week I had the old machine there so I could just transfer the data across and push it back into service and send off the billing data so really there was no big deal but I wanted to get the thing working properly, actually I was far more annoyed than anything else about what was going on.

The guy that I rang phoned me the following week to see how I had got on and then invited me out for a weekend so I really got a decent couple of days off at that companies expense and a nice little check for services rendered in fixing their problem but none of that was expected at the time. This should have been nothing more than a simple install and go.

Once we had got to the stage of me being told that there was a problem with the Modem I was sure that it was something to do with the way that they where setting it up and while I had their senior tech on the line I was going to make her earn her money even if she didn't know as much as she should have. I had got to the stage that I was past needing a helping hand and had dug in my heals and was going to prove that they had a problem that needed fixing. Latter I was told that I had done in 1 day what they couldn't fix in 6 months but that's another story and my wife certainly enjoyed the weekend off from doing any work at all.

When I got a full connection confirmed working I rang the people on both sides of the company and informed them of the solution well I actually confirmed that my workaround did actually work as after all while I generally don't do this work I didn't want to get lumbered with another install like this by being blackmailed into another Doctors Surgery with this software.

I won't mention what happened about 3 weeks latter, late on a Sunday afternoon when my local GP rang me for help to recreate the data that had been trashed on their server by not backing up before upgrading the system. We have 2 major medical programs running here and within a month I had been working with both and it didn't matter how much I said I don't do Medical Work I just had to do both. At least the first one only concerned a delay in payment where as the second one had the potential to threaten lives as all the patient data had been destroyed so if I had not have got it right it was possible that some medication which the patient was allergic to could have been prescribed. That's why I don't do medical work anymore I don't like the responsibility of having peoples life's in the balance. :)


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See if these BLOGS will help you...

by compootergeek In reply to Well it actually gets bet ...

Justin James has written a 3 part BLOG that talks about communication. He's received some really valuable reviews and feedback.
If you're looking for further help in dealing with the issues you've outlined, then you should check out Justin's BLOGS
Many thanks to you for sharing too! )

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Sometimes, a cold beer is the best solution

by Maevinn In reply to How do you get the Help D ...

I've found that sometimes it's best to just let them go. I'm pretty dogged, but honestly, in my book, what really matters is that the problem is solved.

But--before I go that route--I document everything. It's a hard habit to develop, but well worth it. Anytime I'm working, I write everything down. Names, times, advice--everything. I take notes as I'm on the phone, and ask them to stay on the line as I write things down if I can't write it down as I work through their solution. Even the things that don't work get written down. If the Help Desk CAN actually help, great. If not, I can document why I have a complaint with them and forward on to the management.

Customer service is a critical piece in any business. For Help Desks to function, they require feedback--and if they won't ask for it, force feed it to them.

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Strange I do the same thing

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Sometimes, a cold beer is ...

By the end of the first day I had several sheets of paper with just times and areas called and notes that it wasn't their problem as well as Priority numbers that where not being answered. That pile got bigger every time that I rang them as I not only included the times that I rang but also the waiting time which was the worst thing of the entire incident. I can fully understand why people blow their top after waiting for nearly an hour only to be told that It's Not Our Problem Ring here.

Actually I wouldn't say that It's a Hard Habit to Develop but It's Certainly a Hard Habit to Break. but it's necessary and a Must Do Item. :)


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What I find worse than the It's Not Our Problem

by rhomp2002 In reply to Strange I do the same thi ...

I had a problem with the DSL connection on my computer and was getting told every day that it was being worked on. The problem with the company I was having is that the first company contracted with the second company who contacted with the service provider to actually run the DSL. However, as a customer I had to call the first company only to get feedback. The first company would call the second company to get feedback. The second company would call the service provider to get feedback. Everything was filtered and I kept getting told every day that there was a new trouble report on it and it would be fixed by such and such a time. They gave me a dialup to use while the DSL was being fixed. This whole scenario ended when I got a bill for the dialup time and a bill for the DSL usage that was not working. I now use a cable net inconnection and have nothing to do with the original companies. They, however, probably have my tirade taped for giggles as I let loose with such language before I told them to take their d*****d equipment and put it where the sun can't possibly even reach.

I am still wondering why anyone would set up that many levels of service and not get better communication with the clients than these clowns had. I mean how many trouble reports do you have to get before you fix something and how can you tell me that the trouble is with a central office line and not expect that I will wonder that if it is a problem with a central office line, then they are having problems with more clients than just little old me and why aren't they fixing it!!

I have to say that HAL9000 is right and I am one of the people who would **** his top under those conditions - big time!! I am usually very easy-going but if you are trying to pull my chain I can and have gone totally ballistic. I did it once and the women who did data entry and were there when I was spouting all hoped never to see me do it again. They did not realize that I even knew those words!!

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Yes but not as bad

by zlitocook In reply to How do you get the Help D ...

At a job I held for nine months, it was so short a time because of other reasons, but the bank I was at just started using the check image system that the FEDS require. Unisys provided the check scanning equipment and software another vender provided the merging software/hardware. Both have worked together in other states and had no complaints.
The two software?s would not work together no matter what I tried; I had to learn AIX for IBM just to use the merging software. But that was easy and after the bank could not close for two days. Both venders were called to remove their equipment.
That started a big stink with both vendors and the bank auditors were in the same week. We had both parties fly in experts and work with us.
It turns out that every bank had major problems with both companies but did not want to admit it.
When I left that job the experts were still coming back once a month or so.

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