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Help Desk Software World:
No Information is still Customer Service

You’ve ordered something over the phone and they’ve told you it’ll be delivered at 10:00am on Saturday. At 3:00pm Saturday it has still not arrived and your blood pressure has gone up 30 points. You’ve wasted a day. If they’d only called...


Waiting for a call from someone you depend on is the most frustrating and annoying activity. It’s also the worst form of customer service.


Everyone has customers and we’re all customers to dozens, if not hundreds, of others. You’d think that providing good customer service is a basic skill. One which would transfer easily into the world of Computers. Based upon common experiences we all share (and contribute to!) this is wishful thinking.


We all know how frustrating it is to wait for a call. We all know how it makes us feel towards the person who should be making that call, and yet... when we have a similar call to make, we tend to procrastinate. The question is ‘Why?’


Information Services is in the business of providing information to our clients in various forms. If your client wants a graph, report, spreadsheet, or a complicated statistical analysis then we have the perfect software product to provide the answer. (and if we don’t, then we can do it with the next release...)


We are judged by our ability to deliver answers to client’s needs in a timely, consistent and reliable fashion. When things are working as they should, we’re pretty good at delivery. We even like to track our availability and delivery performance using those same graphs, spreadsheets reports and complicated statistical analysis.


When we actually have something to report, then there is no-one who can beat the dedicated IS professional, armed with the latest upgraded hardware and software. Unfortunately things don’t always work the way they should. Sometimes Murphy happens, and everything that could go wrong... does.


When this happens, the client wants a simple answer to the question ‘When will you deliver?’ Quite often the only answer we have is ‘I don’t know. We’re doing our best to solve the problem, but we’re stumped at the moment...’


Information in the form of ‘I don’t know’ does not fit neatly onto a graph, spreadsheet, report or complicated statistical analysis. In fact we have no software to represent ‘We’re doing our best to solve the problem, but we’re stumped at the moment...’ Is that why we find it so difficult to communicate bad news? We don’t have the technology? Are we totally lost when technology fails us?


We’ve all been in situations where this would seem to be the case. We’ve played both roles. The one waiting for the call and the one avoiding it.


The most important call we can make to our client is the one telling them nothing. It’s the call we all dread. Already late in the project, we hold off calling to let them know we’re going to miss the deadline.  We hold off calling them to tell them not only have we not fixed the problem, but we’ve no idea when we’ll solve it. We hold off telling them we’ve failed.


No one likes to admit failure. This is the real reason we avoid the call. The solution is, like all solutions, a simple one. Pick up the phone, or better yet go see, and communicate with your client. Avoiding the issue will not make the problem go away... although sometimes your customer will choose to go way. And not come back... or, they’ll call someone else. In either case you lose a client.


It seems as if computer people depend so much on technology to deliver information, that when it fails, we lose our ability to communicate.


In spite of our reluctance, it’s possibly the single most important call you can make to a customer. It’s the call that allows the person waiting on Saturday morning to take their family out to the ball game. It allows your client the opportunity to make alternative plans. It provides your customer with information necessary for them to make decisions.


So... pick up the phone and make that call you’ve been avoiding.



Peter de Jager is a speaker, writer & consultant. Contact him via [email protected]

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