Raspberryfisher's Blog

notes on fishing & travel

the cube Traveller series

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I spend too much time travelling, and not enough time fishing. At the suggestion of others, I have begun to write about the lessons, and pain and funny stories of doing a lot of travel.  Through this series, I will put in ancedotes and little about for me, so as you can understand my perspective. But for today, lets talk about helpdesks.  With cut-backs and low-cost operations, the term helpdesk has morph into an oxymoron.

Last weeks episode with an United Helpdesk employee in India.  Currently, my profile is wrong, and cannot be corrected.  You can enter the information in, you can save it, it does say it is saved, but when you go back, it is still wrong or it enters in different data!  So what do you do, you call the helpdesk, go on hold to try and fix the problem.  This was a painful excercise, marred by communications and accents, with a sample of the dialogue below.  The keyword here has been changed to protect the innocent and quicken the story.

Help:  What is the word again?  (think Indian accent)

Me: Iron (think Canadian accent, but no eh!)

Help: That did not work Mr Wilson, let me try again.  (Pause)  It still does not work, can you please spell it.

Me: I-R-O-N

Help: Let me repeat that Mr Wilson, R-U-N   (missing the I, plus an O substitution)

Me: No, I-R-O-N

Help: Let me repeat that again Mr Wilson, I-RA-N  

Me: No

Help: Please spell it phoentically Mr Wilson.

Me: India Romeo Oscar November

Help: Did you say, Romeo … (again missing the I)

Me: Interrupting with a NO, India Romeo Oscar November

Help: Ahhh, India Romeo Alpha Quebec  (changed countries now)

Me: No, it is a material, like nickel, not a country ….

Anyway, you get the story and yes, he did eventually enter in Iron. But this continue through the whole experience, with many fields.  After 45 minutes, they failed to help and promise someone would call back. No-one did call back, just wasted my time and the helpdesk.  The problem is still there, I cannot correct my profile and complicates any booking (details intentionally withheld), so with this, I now book my travel with another airline.  A promise was made it would be fixed, an apology was given and a counter suggestion was made ….

Book Online, then Call Reservations (go on hold for x minutes), then have the online agent correct the file.

As the various institutions respond to consumers who want it cheaper, service continues to degrade across the industry. The ability to fix problems that are not in a script becomes rare, as they all race to the bottom.  A milestone to this race is to avoid the carrying cost of human contact and with this, we get electronic billing, online reservations, et cetera, and yet the tools they provide are not robust. 

Advice … Make sure you ask them to enter it into the Problem Report log.  Have then recap what is in the problem file.  Rarely do the use it, as intended, but at least the record is there and you can call upon it.  If there are any implications, ensure this information is logged to.  In this case ….

“Please note in the file, until this problem is resolved, my reservations are being managed by an another company who can properly and effectively manage my personal data. When someone debugs the fault and calls me with the resolution, and then I can resume giving you my business. ” (or to that affect, illustrating, the issue is affecting their revenue)

Do not get mad at the helpdesk agent, yes, we get frustrated, but it was not their fault they are given a limited script, with no method to raise unsolved problems and given to a person who will work for the lowest wage an executive can imagine.  If you are frustrated, tell them it is direct at the process and company and not at them.

Do we need the “razzies” awards to shame the companies?  As I see not other motivation tools available to correct for the bad decisions that has got us here.

More Helpdesk horror stories in the next “cube traveller” short story.  But for now, to the airport.

Safe travels all!


Written by raspberryfisher

2011/01/17 at 17:18

Posted in Helpdesks, Work Travel

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