Googlewacker and America crosser Dave Gorman has being trying to sort his broadband out this week — he’s written up two accounts of his dealings with BT tech support:
I kept hearing the following phrase:
“Your case has been escalated to the complex faults team but due to a system error the task has failed.”
I kept asking the helpdesk staff to explain what this ridiculous sentence meant. On every single occasion, they just repeated the phrase as if repeated listening would make its meaning transparent. Then, when locked in a two-hour conversation with one of them and having long reached a state of tetherlessness I started trying to break it down.
“What is the system? What is the error? What is the task and how has it failed?” I asked.
“Due to a system error the task has failed.”
“Yes. But I don’t know what that means. I need you to explain the words to me. What task has failed?”
Guess what? What it meant was: we’ve sent a message to the engineers but due to a cock up, the message hasn’t got through.
I’ve been quietly impressed with Get Satisfaction, which is sort of best described as a “social customer service” site. Twitter and some other big-name players on the internet use it for their official support channels – the idea of the site being that employees of the companies join in with discussion of “problems” that people are having. Some employees just join to help, others are granted “official” status and can speak on behalf of the organisation.
Of course lots of problems that we have with products or services aren’t really problems (or are well know and documented) – in these instances other users are happy to help (very much like unofficial forums for software). ‘Users’ are also welcome to point out possible solutions to anything – and of course they do.
So, I thought, could this work for a local council? Imagine time saved by council officials if knowledgeable citizens helped answer questions, imagine the resources available (once someone had explained how to apply for a licence, the information would be there for everyone), imagine a monolithic body “joining the conversation”.
Rather than deciding to attempt to persuade my local council (Birmingham City Council – one of the largest in the UK) that this would be a good idea, I discovered that – as the site is “a space for an open conversation between you and other people with interests and passions in this organization.” – anyone can set a company page up. So I have.
I don’t have anything to ask at the moment, but I’m hoping that it might get used.
“Sometimes representatives from the company or organization may take part in the conversation too.” says the blurb — wouldn’t that be great?