Whom do you serve? (Support Desk, Customer Service)

My wife recently had a conversation with her coworkers and mentioned how she “serves” me. They seemed shocked at her statement. They said they would never use that word in reference to their husband. Even after my wife mentioned that I also serve her and speak about it in that way they were unconvinced. Maybe they were correct. According to Merriam-Webster the etymology of the word “service” is “from Latin servitium: condition of a slave”. I still believe that I am here to serve other people.

I would like to share and discuss some of my observations about customer service in hope that it might serve you. Some of the modern definitions that apply to this conversation include “contribution to the welfare of others ” and “a helpful act “. I learned this first hand as a customer service agent at a large all center. On my very first night I had an angry customer on the phone and they ask to speak with the highest ranking person at my company right now. I stood up, looked carefully around then said that I was that person. As usual the newest person got the worst shift and no one else was around. I don’t recall how that call ended but I do remember many guests ending my calls by saying that the may not go to the specific branch where they had the problem but they would use my company again due to how we handled their situation. A problem is a defining moment in a customers experience. It can make a lifelong relationship as much as break it.  It’s an opportunity for greatness.

More recently, I have been managing a small support desk. We support technology that we developed and software from several vendors. I have now had years of experience in working through help desks trying to get issues resolved. It is truly maddening. I have gathered some best practices and rules of thumb for both using and running support desks. I searched the web and I could not find any real good free sources for help when starting a support desk. I had to learn my lessons the hard way. Maybe you won’t have to.

I am also looking for more ideas. There are lots of people in this position all over the world. Please join in the conversation in the comments below. Please post any online sources you are aware of. I would also like to know if you have any questions or situations that you would like help with. I may not have the answer but I bet someone else out there does.