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Tag: Customer Service

Books are hard

Books are hard

Writing a book is hard. Putting words together and having another set of professional eyes fix them is painful.

My book is a collection of essays and it was covered in red once I got it back from the editor. And I’m thankful it was. I know I don’t write perfectly. I have no clue what to do with semi colons. Commas confound me. I spell well but my grammar is a mess.

My little book had gone from Markdown file to Word Document to Scrivener file. Now it’s a book. I can see it on my Kindle. I can send it to friends to get their reaction.

It’s Real.

I learned how to make a book. How to write it. How to get it edited. Made those edits. How to format it. Now it’s real.

Now I’m learning how to sell it. How to price it. How to tell people about it. How to let is loose into the world. It’s all a great experiment.

A terrifying experiment. It’s the first time in years I’ve made a thing that I’ve put out into the world. It’s not a blog post. The living beast that slowly gets bigger and longer with the passing of time.

A book is a thing. Even if it gets updated or expanded upon. It’s still a snapshot of time. When those words existed in that order in a finite way.

And it’s almost done. Beyond the Reboot will be out soon once I made the last changes based on feedback I got from my wonderful friends who were gracious enough to look at it and tell me what I had long gone blind to.

Beyond the Reboot is about being a better technician. It won’t tell you what tools to use or how to fix problems. Those are skills that are easy to learn and have already been covered to death elsewhere.

Beyond the Reboot is a book about the human side of technical support. It remembers the Customer in Customer Service. It’s a reminder that we’re all here to serve the people behind the machines. The machines are coming for our jobs. We don’t need to give them any help. We need to help people.

And I think this little book will. And I hope you do too.

It’s available today.



I’m always a sucker for advice pieces, especially when they are directed from adults to children. Unsolicited Advice for My Three Sons, In No Particular Order is full of greats bits of advice but one stuck out to me more than the rest.

Names are a door handle to a person; that small little effort opens them up.

This is great advice, and something I use as much as I can, especially when talking to people over the phone. I work in a help desk environment and people feel dehumanized by the entire process so it’s nice to converse using each others names and not just a caller/callee relationship.

We’re both people and it’s important to remember that. We have feelings and we are working towards the same outcome. But it’s important for life too.

I try to take note of anyone with a name tag and thank them using their name. It’s fun to see the surprise in their face when I use their name when they didn’t give it to me.

I had the same feeling one day and I asked a customer when I worked in retail how he knew my name, he motioned to my name tag and winked. I had totally forgotten I had my name on my chest.

Trying harder is my customer support secret

Trying harder is my customer support secret

Today I have tried to live up to my own ideal of trying harder and caring about other people’s problems.

I received a call from someone working for the local state government. He was frustrated because he had been trying to access a database hosted at the Food and Drug Administration. He’s been unable to access it for over two weeks.

I had no idea what this database was or know anything about it. But I was determined to help him where others had passed him off. So I asked him for his email address and his ticket number.

While he was on the line, I searched for the site in question on the FDA’s Intranet and found it. But it had no contact information for support.

I told him I would contact the technician assigned to his ticket and find out who he could call for support.

He was very appreciative and we hung up.

Now the real work began. I could have ignored him and gone about my day. After all, it’s not my job to support everything the FDA does. But I was determined to help. So I did as I said.

I emailed the technician assigned to his ticket and asked for a better contact number since the site in question had no support information.

The tech got back to me quickly with the proper phone number and call tree options to press to get support directly.

I thanked him and sent the information back to the guy working in the state government. I hope he gets what he needs. The rest is out of my hands, but I did my best to give him an avenue for support. Now it’s up to the technicians on the other side to fulfill his request.

As an experiment, I recorded today’s post using Anchor. It’s slightly different from the written text but the message remains the same.
It’s embedded below. Or you can listen to the file directly.

Never Assume

Never Assume

Never assume the person you’re talking to knows what they’re doing. Never assume they know as much as you. They won’t.

Never assume your instructions will be taken as you gave them.

When you say, “Please type ‘’ into Firefox.” You assume they’ll type in just that. So you’re be thrown off when they get an unexpected result.

They’re typed “”.
They’re typed “” into a search field instead of the address bar.
They’ve not even typed it at all and instead typed something completely different.

Never assume your instructions will be taken as you gave them. Always be ready for anything the customer may do.

Service Smiles – Share What You Know

Service Smiles – Share What You Know

Share What You Know!

This is the biggest lesson I was reminded of this week. Despite being new to my team, I was able to step in and share some things I had learned.

Using Partial playback to crop a WebEx recording

First, did you know you can edit a WebEx recording straight from the server before downloading it? It only works if you need to crop out the front of back of a recording, but it works.

Access the My Files then My Recordings tab
Once you’re logged into WebEx:
1. Click on My WebEx on the top navigation bar.
2. Click on My Files on the left-side.
3. Click the My Recordings tab.
4. Click the meeting name under Topic you wish to edit.

Click the Modify button
5. Click the Modify button on the lower left under the meeting links.

Select the Partial playback option and select the time codes.
6. Scroll down and select the Partial playback option.
7. Select the Start and End time codes.

Note: This works best if you download the original file before making changes and make a note of how much you want to crop off the front and back of the file. You cannot edit in the middle of the file using this method. You can only crop time from the front and/or back of the recording.

WebEx has a 250MB upload limit on files

Second, WebEx has a 250MB limit on the file size which can be uploaded to the server. This is not documented anywhere in the site’s settings. Nor is it available in the manuals. I learned this the hard way when I downloaded a recording, converted it to .mp4 and tried to upload it again. Instead of a helpful error message, I was met with this:

Unhelpful error message

I tried many times with different browsers before I gave up and called support. Even then it took them some time to find an answer and get back to me. But at least they were able to verify the limit so I could look for other ways to deliver larger files to my customers.

In both instances, I found this information from asking our vendor about the exact problems I was having. First, I needed to edit a native .arf file from WebEx and Cisco provides no tool for this. Second, I was trying to upload a large recorded meeting I had converted to .mp4 back to the WebEx server. If I had not run into these situations, I may not have ever learned this. But I did and was able to share them with my team.

Share what you know. It makes you a better technician. It empowers your team to offer better answers and delights your customers.

Special Bonus Tip

Make your customer laugh by deviating from what they expect. There’s a lot of way to deliver the same message. Your account is unlocked. Your password is… Here is what I’ve done for you. You say the same phrases over and over until you get tired of saying them. So switch it up. No one’s forcing you to be a broken record.

Today, I told a customer: “Your old password is Green123 and your new password is whatever your heart desires.”
She giggled and said she hadn’t heard that one before. I smiled. Another small win for the day.