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I Love My Job, But Sometimes I Don’t Like It Very Much

May 30, 2017

LOOK! I’ve got better things to do than sit on a phone bridge for four hours while your help desk refuses to give me a ticket!

Yesterday was Memorial Day in the United States. It’s a day for remembering soldiers who died. My dad was a reluctant soldier in the age of the draft. He’s been gone six years. My uncle just passed away last November. It’s my first Memorial Day to honor his service in the Navy. My family has a long history of military service, going back to the battles of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill in the Revolutionary War. I’m proud of them and all the men and women who died while serving, or who passed after their service was complete. We salute you.

Memorial Day is also the unofficial start to summer. Families gather for backyard BBQs. The kids are out of school, and people have the day off. Well, most people do. I do. . .unless something breaks. Something broke. It was okay though. It didn’t seem like it would take a long time to fix. My phone rang at 9:45am. Our family BBQ was scheduled for 1:00. Plenty of time.

If you’ve read my scribblings for very long at all, you’ve no doubt noticed a pattern. I talk a lot about scouting and a lot about broken systems. Sometimes, like last week, I combine the two. Don’t misunderstand. My systems are not extremely fragile. In fact, they are extremely robust. The thing is, I have thousands of agents across multiple states. We service millions of calls on dozens of lines of business. It’s a very complex system. It’s part of the reason I have a job. And, as I’ve said numerous times, I love what I do.

However, it’s not always convenient. Like yesterday. What makes it bearable is the processes and the routines that we have in place. When I get a call about a system outage, I have a well defined script that I run through in my head. There are three or four questions that I ask right off.

  1. When did the issue first start?
  2. How many agents are impacted?
  3. What error did the agents get?
  4. Have you opened a ticket with the client?

I then make a call to the client. Sometimes they are aware of the issue, sometimes they aren’t. I then get on a conference call with my team. At this point, they typically have all the information we’ll need to troubleshoot the outage. If it’s a client problem, I need to be able to tell them how many of my agents are impacted and the ticket that we’ve opened with their help desk.

I generally don’t put my life on hold when I get into these calls. I have multiple phones and multiple headsets and they all have mute buttons. I’ll simply ask my questions, relay the answers and then go on about my day while waiting from the engineers to find and fix the issue. The fact that it’s a routine is what makes it work. Yesterday, for example, I was setting up tables and chairs, getting the BBQ grill ready, even starting to cook the hamburgers and hotdogs, all while on the phone with my team and making calls to my client contacts.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t want to be on that phone call. I had family that I only see a couple times per year who were coming to our house for the holiday. I wanted to be able to devote my full attention to my kids and grandkids. But, it’s my job, so like it or not, I was on the phone. The problem was not everyone was following the script.

My agents call into the client help line when we have an issue with the client tools. They are supposed to get a service ticket number.

Rodney, the help desk said they are aware of the issue and they are working on it.

Okay, there should be a Major Outage number. Ask them for that number.

They said it hasn’t been escalated to a Major Outage yet. They are still researching, but they don’t have a ticket number for us.

Tell them that you your IT guy is really mean and he will yell at you if you don’t get a ticket number.

Sorry, they said that they cannot give us a ticket.

That was false. It was 100% wrong. The problem was I was talking to a supervisor who was talking to an agent who was talking to a help desk analyst. And it was the help desk analyst who wasn’t following the script. The problem is that my contacts literally cannot escalate my issue without a ticket number. I could tell them my building is on fire and if I don’t have a ticket number, they can’t do anything with the calls.

I was furious. But, who do I get mad at? It does me no good to yell at the supervisor. And it’s not my agent’s fault. So, we waited. I continued preparing for the BBQ and the client continued to research the issue. Eventually, my contacts we able to get the right teams involved, hours later. They found the problem relatively quickly. The issue had to do with the holiday schedule. Not something we would have been able to prepare for. They quickly made a slight change to reroute some of the calls and marked the issue for follow-up later this week.

So, instead of a couple of hours on a call that would have ended in plenty of time for me to get ready for the BBQ, I spent 4 hours on the phone and got to greet my guests and cook the dogs and burgers with a headset stuck in my ear. Before we wrapped up for the day, I expressed my frustration to my client contacts. Perhaps a little more forcefully than I have in the past. They promised to follow up with the help desk analyst. 

Pretty sure whoever that poor help desk analyst is he ended up having a worse holiday than me. After all, he had to work yesterday.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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