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April 2015The monthly newsletter by Felgall Pty Ltd

My Word

Help Desks

It seems to me that just about every time that I raise a support request via any help desk that the very first response that I get back is an answer to a different question from the one I asked. There is usually a slight connection between the two topics but the one they are answering is always one that is not what applies in the situation I am asking about. I get the impression that those working help desks basically look for one or two key words in the question being asked and then respond with a pre-written answer to one question that contains those key words. Perhaps that question is the one most commonly asked that contains those words but if they had actually read the entire question they'd have seen that I am actually asking something completely different.

I don't know. Perhaps it is because of all the experience that I have with computers that means that I have already gone past all of the simple questions and solutions long before I get to the point of having to raise a request for help. The questions I am asking are beyond what the first level support that are the ones who have to try to deal with it first can answer. Perhaps the first level support at many sites are supposed to just respond with canned replies to the most common queries because that is the quickest way to deal with the majority of the queries they get.

Another thing I have noticed is that a high percentage of the questions I ask of support are handed over to second level support and in some cases go even further before I get a usable response back. Unfortunately there seems no way on any help desk I have seen to direct my questions to the right level of support in the first place and so depending on how long the first response takes it can sometimes be a couple of days from when I first raise my question before I succeed in getting it passed to someone who might be able to answer it.

One thing I did work out is that in most cases it is pointless in my raising the question via live chat. The people usually working the live chat service are generally first level support who don't know how to answer my question and even if they did they don't generally have the time to be able to do the research necessary to work out the answer. The only time I have successfully used live chat is where I have needed a specific change where the only reason I can't do it for myself is that they don't provide an option for that. For me live chat works for banking web sites where I am asking to switch between deposit options but is useless for just about anything else where either the person wouldn't know the answer or wouldn't have the time to resolve it for me. On almost every occasion where I tried to use live chat the answer I got once they understood what I was asking was to raise a support ticket.

In most cases when I raise a support ticket the problem gets resolved within a couple of days although in one case the resolution took a couple of weeks. It isn't always the support staff that resolve the problem I raise either. There have been a number of cases where I have worked out the solution myself while waiting for support to respond or where an answer that they give that doesn't solve the problem gives me an idea of something different to try that does. In a significant number of cases the support tickets I open get closed when I tell them the solution I finally worked out to my problem.

When I resolve one of these problems where I initially raised a support request and have found the solution myself while waiting for them to see what they can come up with, I always tell them that I have resolved it myself and how I solved it. Not only does this hopefully help them out if someone else raises the same problem in the future but there has been at least one instance where they have been able to provide me with a better solution than the one I originally found once they have a better understanding of what I am talking about through my having told them how I fixed it.

Now your experience with help desks is probably totally different from mine because you are asking different sorts of questions - perhaps the ones where the canned responses do provide the answer a lot of the time. The important thing is that if the answer you get the first time (or even the tenth time) doesn't actually solve the problem then don't give up. A good help desk will keep working on finding a solution to the problem until either you give up or they find a solution. If the help desk gives up on finding a solution before you do then you know it is time to look for an alternative site to provide whatever service or product that is not being adequately supported.
 

On Site

So Google have now changed their site ranking algorithms to take into account how mobile friendly the site is. As a result I have spent some time over the past month attempting to incorporate some of the things Google are looking for in order to determine a mobile friendly site. It isn't easy to do for the types of sites I create since large chunks of code can be difficult enough to lay out in a readable format even for large screens. What changes I have applied should have no impact whatever on the way pages look on reasonable sized screens. If you are using a hand held mobile device to try to view pages on my site then I would appreciate feedback on how usable it is and what changes you think I should apply to make it easier to use.
 

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