There are a lot of places where businesses can do better for their customers – and where customers can better support their providers. Here are a few examples.
When there’s something strange, going on under the hood. Who you gonna call? Helpdeskers!
But who wants to? Since the middle ages, people have been having issues with things they don’t make themselves. If you made it yourself, you know the ins and outs, but if someone else did, there are always things they forgot to tell you. Or didn’t tell you in words you understood.
Run for the hills! They’ve thrown the dictionary at us!
It doesn’t have to get this bad, EVER! But it does, doesn’t it? All the time. I can’t even count the number of calls I’ve made to some form of customer support where the terms they use haven’t been previously explained. After a while it begins to feel like every third word is martian, and this is where the first disconnect happens. Lots of folk just have no patience for learning new terms on the fly – and why should they? There are almost always easier words to use that don’t rely on industry jargon or obscure legalese, but for whatever reason, it seems like it’s almost impossible for many support calls to survive more than two minutes without one of these terms flying out of the phone line and turning most of us into “Uh-huh” zombies who can’t properly follow an instruction to save our lives – and the rest of us, who are either lucky enough to understand the terms, or unlucky enough to have learned them through repeated exposure, these sad few just get annoyed because we know there’s no good reason for this stuff.
There’s clarity, and there’s user-speak.
Techs just can’t translate, sometimes. ven putting aside the problem of jargon, if you’re not intimately involved with a system/product/service, it’s hard to understand people who are. Whether it’s computer support people talking just above the level of the average user, or credit employees railing on about their terms and numbers – very often, helpdesk can become two countries divided by a common language. Who needs to fix this? We, the users, are always able to say “Hang on, explain that a little more?” or flat out call bull on a helpdesker’s advice. But do we? Not often, because they’re the experts, right? And what about the helpdeskers? It’s fully in their power to offer more information, but knowing when’s a good time to give this detail, and which callers are actually going to benefit from the extra tidbits is often really hard. Over-sharing can apply to business transactions too.
How many people do I have to talk to?
Forget for a moment that you only understand a third of what comes across the phone line. Ever counted the number of techies you talk to in a given call? How about how long it takes before they call in the supervisor? I’m not sure whether this is out of some phantom need to make a caller feel that their call is actually important, or complicated, or if (and this is likely more true) the support people are rated on fast call turnover and passing a problem on to a higher tier actually gets them better stats and raises. The ratio of calls with in-call hold times while the support person is supposedly “talking to a more experienced tech” has got to be through the roof!
So what’s the bottom line?
Users owe it to themselves to learn a bit more about their products and services. I’ve found that the more information people gather for themselves – whether brochures, FAQ files, blogs like this one, or even post-it notes put in place after a useful helpdesk call, the better off they are in general. It not only means more confidence in their products, it usually means less calls to support at the end of the day anyway!
Users are certainly not the only ones who have space to improve. Helpdeskers NEED training. And I’m not talking technical or service-oriented training, either. Product knowledge is par for the course. What support people need is soft-skills. Give them some real sales training, get them face to face with people every so often. Make sure that there’s a feedback system that actually has bearing on their jobs. Coach them when they mistranslate. Penalize for passing on calls, just like you praise for short call times.
At the end of the day, it’s not the support person’s fault you don’t know what they’re talking about. But it’s certainly not your fault that they didn’t ask the right questions either.