I did a fairly lengthy blog entry a few months ago, and even put a special section on my other website entitled: Before you call the help desk, click here. It outlines some tips, tricks and techniques I used when I attended technical college, and experience I had gained from working at a call center for over 3 years. The general consensus is that calls to a computer help desk is still a major contributor of computer related stress. Hey, the internet is not that old, and DOS just turned 30, (and get this, some companies still use the DOS operating system)
You see, the help desk is only as good as its communications and technical trainers, and if you have bad trainers, well, you have a bad experience for allot of callers. That’s not to say their aren’t any good help desk technicians. But if you look at the statistics of where call centers sit in the grand scheme of things, the brightest of the bright will generally use call centers as nothing more than a stepping stone. The exceptional ones will usually go to work for one of the majors like Facebook, Google, Android, Microsoft, Adobe and other major players.
When I was part of the training and development department at the call center, I insisted on a formula that has never let me down. Here it is. When I would teach a group of people a new troubleshooting skill I would immediately ask them to partner up and teach what they had just learned. Then, I would observe them, or if I knew there was someone in the class that ‘got it’, and I knew they understood what they just learned, I would let them observe other class members and report back to me if they understood and could duplicate the process by teaching the new principles.
It didn’t take very long to tell who ‘got it’, and ‘who didn’t. Now, I don’t know what happened in other classes that were being taught, but I have a suspicion that basic information was given, and no follow up was done. Why am I telling all this? Some contracts have more technical trouble than others, and that can mean training may not have been taught with focus, passion and intention. Even in the best, most prestigious call centers there are employees, trainers, managers and supervisors that wished they were some place else, and that’s a fact.
Click here for a great article on call centers. Did you know that poor communication is one of the main reasons technology can be so intimidating? It’s true. My advice when making a call to a help center is to use a great phrase I learned long ago.
It’s called S.N.A.P. It stands for: Stop Now And Plan. Plan your tone of voice. (Don’t yell or inflect any irritation in your voice) Plan your attitude (realize that you may be speaking to a person with either limited communication skills and/or limited technical skills) Plan what your going to say if the call isn’t going the way you want it to, or think it should be going) I would suggest putting together some kind of script in order to put the call back on track. After all, every single call center employees use scripts when they talk to you. Plan what your next step is if the first line tech can’t fix your issue and you need to take the call up to second level support. Plan to be patient. (I know that this is about the last thing you want to hear when you have a technical issue, but the call center really have you at their mercy, and if the technical agent is having a bad day, they’ll probably make sure you do to)
Plan to ask the agent if they store the contents of the call, or any information related to the call somewhere on the internet. When I was at the call center, the client was given a reference number at the end of the call, and they could go to a specific web address so they could review the call, what was said by both parties, and what solutions or recommendations the agent proposed. The main theme of this exercise it to remain calm, focused, rational and in control of the call, because that’s what they call it at the help desk, ‘call control’.
If you lose your cool: Let’s face facts, sometimes we all lose our cool. And if, or when you do, whatever you do, don’t swear or threaten the agent. There was a rule at my call center. If the client swears, verbally abuses or threatens you, you will be given your first warning. If you repeat that action just 2 more times, the agent can and will disconnect your call, and inform the client that if you phone back again, they can reject helping you on any level, period. That’s that. No more help, your on your own, so if you lose your cool, ask the agent to hold for one minute, (tell them you have to go to the washroom) and walk away from the phone to yell, stamp your feet, slap your hands together and take a big deep breath, then go back to the phone with a new perspective on life.
If your running out of options: Ask the agent for the call reference number, and tell them to take your issue to their engineering department and let them give y0u a specific time when they will phone you back with a solution. Another thing you can try is to have the call center conference call in any other department or company that may be able to assist the agent in fixing your issue. We ‘used’ to be able to do that at the call center I worked at, but the other companies refused to conference call in with us. I got away with it for a couple of years, and it just may work for you on your call.
I’ve outlined some very powerful, unique and very workable suggestions and possible solutions that should help you ‘keep it together’ so you can at least hold onto your sanity long enough to get through your call. I sincerely hope you can use this blog, and perhaps pass this article onto someone that you know who needs to call a help center.
Yak at you later.