Appropriate IT

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tale of Three Techs

My DSL has been flakey for a couple of weeks. Today, it finally went out for good. The administrative web app on our 2Wire router said the DSL signal was kaput. So began my experience with AT&T High-Speed Home Network support.

The first person to answer my call is Macy. I’m using her real name because everyone should know it. Especially her supervisor. Macy hung up on me because I couldn’t understand her accent. To her credit, before hanging up on me, she tried to communicate by talking REAL LOUD.

I called again hoping to get Macy as I had a few things to say but Joy answered the call instead. Joy asked me some questions and made me unplug the entire deal and move it to another phone jack. She put me on hold a lot while she multi-tasked with other support calls. Joy didn’t seem terribly enthusiastic about the whole affair. Most of the time I thought we had lost contact but after while she’d come back on the call. Eventually, Joy escalated the call to Ron after she was unable to figure out the problem. Even after I had to move the whole deal to another phone jack. Did I mention that I have (had) all of my cables neatly tied and tucked away?

Ron was from California and asked me all of the same questions Joy had. He was unable to find the ticket in the system. He announced that he had some diagnostic tools and could see that the signal in our house was intermittent (tools and progress!). Then he announced that our 3mb downstream should have never worked because we were too far away from the hub (sigh. so much for progress). I was about ready to write off the entire organization but Ron was very personable and seemed very interested in helping me out. I told him we’ve had this setup for three years with no problems except in the last couple of weeks. Somewhere, something has changed. Ron asked me about every phone we had in the house and if they were all attached to filters and expressed surprise that Joy hadn’t asked this earlier. I couldn’t remember so I did reconnaissance. Basement, first level and upstairs. And there it was: Jaime’s new cordless phone. Unfiltered. Got that about two weeks ago. I unplugged it and Ron announced that the signal to the house turned strong and steady.

This two-hour ordeal really reinforced in my mind what it takes for successful support:

  1. People
    We need more Rons and no Macys.

  2. Systems
    Accurate, accessible ticket information saves time for everyone. Additionally, Ron had access to diagnostic tools that Joy apparently did not. Finally, while high productivity is a key goal, multi-tasking to the point of ineptidude is not an effective component of a solid productivity system.

  3. Process
    Ron fell back to a first level diagnostic process that started at square one. Having and using such processes is the only way to efficiently diagnose and solve issues.


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