Zit Seng's Blog

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When Helpdesk Is Not Very Helpful

Don’t you sometimes feel like helpdesks are not very helpful? Or wonder what is the purpose or point of having a helpdesk? I very often do. In fact, sometimes I feel like the objective of helpdesk is not so much as to help customers, but to help its company reduce the number of incidents it actually has to handle. It’s like as if helpdesks have a KPI that measures the number of support calls it successfully turns away.

It is very irritating when you have to deal with a helpdesk that is not helpful. I’ve just spent about the last two days trying to talk sense into the helpdesk people at GoDaddy. They aren’t the only bad ones of course, just that they are the currently one irking me.

My usual gripes about helpdesks:

  • When you call them, they put you on hold forever. Sometimes you have to wait forever. Sometimes, even when I don’t mind waiting a couple of minutes, but I get so irritated by the same music or canned message they keep playing over and over again that I want to hang up anyway. I’m guessing someone gets appraised by the number of callers they succeeded in influencing to hang up voluntarily.
  • Some helpdesks think you are dumb. They have a canned script of questions, and they just have to have those questions answered, regardless of how irrelevant they are to the subject of your call. It is like when I need to talk networking sense to a general support technician who has not much idea about networking.
  • There is the hot potato tossing game. They pass you from one person to another person, or from one extension to another extension. KPI is measured based on how quickly you pass on the call, and for the whole team, how many times the call gets passed around before the caller realizes he or she is getting nowhere.

Then what about a helpdesk that claims to be 24×7, but doesn’t actually respond to you 24×7? Yeah, maybe what they mean is that their phones are capable of ringing 24×7, and that their email system does accept email 24×7. But they only work 8×5. Or maybe, hmm, it is 6×5 (i.e. 6 hours Mondays to Fridays after less 1 hour lunch break and 2 other half-hour breaks). Yeah, I’m referring to GoDaddy again.

There is another kind that gets their customers to do their work for them. For example, we have this 8x5x4 on-site response maintenance agreement with a certain company for maintenance of a particular kind of IT equipment. When we encounter hardware failure, the helpdesk insists we login from a certain OS type (which we don’t run), run a certain command (which we do not have), in order to extract a technical data dump from the defective hardware (which is impossible because the hardware is dead). But they insist we have to do this in order to log a support call. Hey, since they are supposed to provide us on-site support, why not come down on-site to go through the antics for us? (This is a Sun product.)

What has become of helpdesks?!

2 thoughts on “When Helpdesk Is Not Very Helpful

  1. IMO, helpdesk is helpful if you have certain amount of knowledge on the thing. Else it’s better to get the professional to help you instead of getting help thru phone.

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