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Jan 30

How often does a Help Desk help rather than annoy you?

How often does your "Help Desk" provide helpful and practical advice?

The service you offer through your Help Desk is a good indicator of the value you place on your customers.  That is the true value, not the hype from your advertising campaigns.

Help Desk

Help or frustration?

As a business you will be calling the help desks of your service providers and the level of service may be a factor in selecting a particular supplier.  I had three very different experiences with help desks this month and they provide some useful insights for business and consumers.

The very first question is not "how long do you have to wait to get a response?", but rather "can you even get a response?" I tried calling an Auckland-based Internet Service Provider last week about the event that I was organising for Auckland ICT.  We could not access webmail and my quest for help was both urgent and important.  There was no response from either the Residential or Business help numbers.  The Residential 0800 number had an automated message "all lines are busy, try again later".  This was a fraction better than the Business 0800 line, where the message was simply "your call cannot be connected". So much for Orcon!

As it happens, Orcon is running TV adverts offering "awesome broadband and extremely competitive packages". I strongly suggest you check Orcon Support before making any purchase decision.

This is the worst of the three.  The next one was with Toshiba and it warrants a full post in its own right.  The "good news" is that I did not experience long delays in any of my 10 calls. The "'bad news" is that I had to make 10 calls. After a while you get to learn the standard messages how to quickly navigate through the maze of menu choices.  The length of the wait varied but I quickly tired of hearing how wonderful Toshiba was and the boasting about "continuous innovation" become increasingly frustrating.

If someone was waiting to talk to you in person, would you get someone else to read a script extolling the virtues of your company? So, why inflict this on someone who has cleared selected "technical help" rather than "new products"?

There is some good news: two people did offer some real help, one at NZ Couriers and the other at the Toshiba Mobile Service Centre in Auckland.  In the words of the founder LV Martin, the appliance retailer in Wellington, " it is the putting right that counts".

The last experience was with another Auckland-based ISP, Slingshot.  I had to call a few times about upgrading the connection and my calls were handled well.  There was one instance when I had a longer wait, but I was impressed with the experience:

  1. The initial message "you may have to wait longer than 5 minutes"is helpful
  2. Pleasant music is far better than self-promotion.
  3. "Thanks for your patience" lets you know you are still in the queue.
  4. Lastly, talking to someone that is knowledgeable and helpful.

Factors in selecting a service provider

Here are some factors you might like to consider:

  1. How important is the service to you or your business?
  2. Do try using the Support or Help services before you buy.
  3. Ask people you know, in business or private, for their experiences.
  4. Check out user forums or other on-line networks if the service is important to you.

These are just some general factors.  If you have particular needs, you may want to get some professional advice.

Lastly, here is a plea to the companies that offer or at least purport to offer a Help Desk.  If your business model dictates that you must annoy your customers seeking help, then so be it. Your business may not have a bright future or indeed any future. If on the other hand, you do seek to offer a reasonable standard of service, do get some of the basics right:

  1. Monitor performance regularly.
  2. Take corrective action quickly, such as resource allocation and training.
  3. Do have "mystery shoppers" call your own number.  You can even phone the number yourself!

The motto " treat others as you would like them to treat you" applies well to companies with a Help Desk.

Simon Fawkes
Accredited Mindshop Facilitator
Business to Markets Ltd