If you’ve ever worked in a call centre for an internet service provider, you’ll know the jeopardy involved in going available.
The phone rings, and it could be absolutely anything. A wrong number? A panicked customer who’s lost connectivity? Someone angrily complaining about their bill?
Anger and panic are among the more routine caller emotions – few customers ring up to offer praise, and nobody phones in to report their service is working perfectly, thanks.
From a consumer perspective, it’s important to ring your ISP armed with facts rather than presumptions, and to remain calm at all times.
Here’s how to approach any ISP call centre staff conversations – keeping in mind that the person you speak to probably didn’t cause your issues…
The power and the story
Firstly, establish to the best of your abilities where the problem lies, and whether you can fix this yourself.
ISP call centre staff routinely receive calls from people reporting their computer won’t turn on because of a power cut, or saying their monitor is blank (because it’s been switched off).
Check whether the internet is inaccessible on more than one device before reporting a fault. If only one machine is offline, the issue probably lies beyond your ISP’s remit.
If the problem is recurring or intermittent, compile notes on previous occurrences. This will help identify common themes for fault diagnosis.
Ensure you’re ringing your ISP on their preferred telephone number, with your account details and any passwords to hand for identification purposes.
If your problem is connection-related, you’ll almost certainly need to hardwire a computer to your ISP’s supplied broadband router, using either an Ethernet cable or a Powerline adaptor.
Navigating automated menus
Ensure you’re ringing the right department. It’s very frustrating for both parties when you end up connected to the wrong team.
Listen closely to all the options on each automated menu selection (which admittedly aren’t always intuitive), and choose the most relevant one.
If you make a mistake, hang up and ring back. There’s no ‘back’ button on most call-direction software, and you could end up in a rabbit-warren of increasingly irrelevant options.
If you’re put on hold, don’t sit there seething as the 1812 Overture plays on a one-minute loop. Put your phone on speaker, and get on with something else.
Call centre personnel probably know the exact wait time, but there’s not much they can do about it. They didn’t choose the hold music, either.
How may I help you?
Once your call is answered, start with a polite introduction – “I wonder if you can help” – before briefly outlining the problem.
Keep this initial statement to one or two sentences. If you launch into a long spiel before the operator can access their software, you’ll have to run through it all a second time.
The fact your mesh extender network has just stopped working isn’t obvious as they pick up your call.
Once they’ve asked for more information, provide any notes and theories, summaries of previous calls to the ISP, etc.
Above all, remain patient. You might have been living with this issue for a while, but it’s probably the first this particular operator has heard of it.
Your answers to their questions will eliminate possibilities, helping to identify solutions.
It may be necessary to transfer your call to another team or phone you back, but any short-term inconvenience is worthwhile if your problem is satisfactorily resolved.
It’s remarkable how heat-of-the-moment issues seem much less significant the next day, once they’ve been dealt with…