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Improving Desktop Support - The Route to a Live Human Being

written by: KateG•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 11/22/2008

When you call a support line one of the hardest things to do is get to a real live human being. This piece is about how you, at the support end, can improve the system.

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    When you call up a desktop support line, ostensibly to talk to a person, one of the most complex and frustrating things you have to face is the task of actually getting to a live human being. This frustrating paradox can be eliminated from your desktop support system if you follow some of these basic guidelines.

    Guideline one: Eliminate the maze

    Mazes are only designed to solve two functions. One is to keep mythical beasts away from the general public, the other is to keep children entertained by their restaurant placemats. Since neither of these is your business, you need to eliminate the mazes from your phone system. This can be done in a variety of ways:

    1. Eliminate dead ends. There should be no option that leads to a recorded message and a hang up unless that message is someone’s voice mailbox.
    2. Eliminate restarts. If a caller makes a mistake or needs to go back don’t make them start at square one. Give them the choice to go back to the previous menu instead.
    3. Minimize options on an individual listing. No one can be reasonably expected to keep 9 options in their head while listening to another and while frustrated. 3 to 5 options per set is a better choice.

    Guideline two: Make the hold bearable

    I know that there is not always something that can be done about the wait times as many different factors affect that, (time of day, call volume, staffing, complexity of issues presented, etc…) but you can make the hold tolerable in a few basic ways.

    1. Get rid of the commercials. I don’t care what your people over in marketing say, it's not good branding, it's annoying. Instead try some music, and I mean real music not musak or that midi crap. Try light classical or top 40, trust me, anything else will have a limited appeal.
    2. Don’t suggest calling back or alternate routes of service more than once every 15 minutes. If your customer is persevering through the hold and you keep suggesting other choices constantly then they will get the idea that you do not want to help them out all, not exactly the impression you were striving for, I am sure.

    Guideline three: Don’t fry to fool your customers.

    If you use an automatic system designed with guided conversation voice recognition, don’t try to fool your customers into thinking that this is a real person. Quite frankly, they will know.

    Guideline four: Do not end a hold with a hold.

    Once your customer gets a live human that human should not be allowed to put a customer on hold until at minimum she or he has:

    • Introduced themselves.
    • Thanked the customer for holding on.
    • Asked what the customers issue or problem is today.
    • Gotten any basic information they need.

    Also, these human initiated holds should be no longer than 5 minutes at an absolute maximum.

    Now that you know, I suggest you heed my advice and change your support line for the better.

    *I know that you probably don’t make policy, but try your best with what you have to work with.

Desktop Support Improvments

If you run lousy service, or you just want to know how to improve one, then you should read this series.
  1. Improving Desktop Support: An Introduction
  2. Improving Desktop Support - The Route to a Live Human Being

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