Universal lessons from immersion into online help desks

Judged on recent experience, I’m now verging on being an expert in the hugely under-rated world of online help desks. Helped by having become immersed in our own offering ([email protected]). But also through engaging with a range of software companies whose products Biznews’s people-light, tech-heavy model depends upon.

Here are three learnings you may find useful:

1. Patience. Easily the most important acquisition for me. Many I’ve been dealing with are literally on the other side of the earth. No measure of huffing and puffing elicits a response. So best to plan for a next-day turnaround – and be pleasantly surprised if you get sorted out any sooner.

2. Humility. It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to miss the obvious, especially when I’m setting up or adjusting software. Being humble with the help desk makes it much easier to swallow a silly oversight than being forced to swallow rant-infused humble pie.

3. Empathy. We can all learn from the approach of Automatic Inc, the company behind WordPress. It requires all new hires to spend their first month on the help desk. After reading Scott Berkun’s book about the process called “The Year Without Pants”, I’m convinced this is the perfect policy. There is surely no better way for newcomers of every rank to understand the business.