Signing up to a new broadband provider is often an impersonal process.
Many companies offer online sign-up, and despite the best efforts of door-to-door salespeople and in-store sales advisors, customers are more likely to enter a contract over the phone than in person.
Broadband equipment is posted out, notice to your existing ISP is provided on your behalf, and a series of emails will welcome you to the new provider and handle account registration.
Switchovers are handled remotely, rarely involving face-to-face contact. Indeed, you might not see a single ISP employee until something goes seriously wrong.
If technical support teams fail to resolve an issue over the phone, or a problem is diagnosed via online checks, a broadband engineer visit to your home might be suggested.
But how should you approach the prospect of a broadband engineer visit? What’s required in advance, what’s likely to happen on the day, and how can you help them to help you?
Before the visit
If the visit will involve access inside your property, ensure an adult will be at home who understands why the engineer is visiting.
If you’re asking for help with an existing problem, gather any notes or correspondence together. The engineer will have their own notes, but may welcome extra information.
Ensure any areas they need to visit are clean and accessible, with clutter banished elsewhere. Run a duster over surrounding skirting boards, and vacuum nearby floors.
Ensure pets are shut away – some people are fearful of dogs, while cats have an annoying habit of getting in the way due to insatiable curiosity.
You might also want to open a few windows to get fresh air in, since many people’s attitudes to home visits have changed during the pandemic.
During the visit
First impressions count, so answering the door with a friendly greeting and a smile will grease the wheels of any subsequent conversations.
Invite the engineer in. If your floors are precious, offer shoe covers or politely ask them to remove their boots, though some firms advise staff against the latter on health and safety grounds.
Offer them a drink, even if they have to decline due to their company’s COVID policy. It’s good manners, and people subconsciously work harder when they feel appreciated.
If this is a first visit, show the engineer where everything is. Ask if you can give them any more information, and then retreat to a safe distance – ideally a neighbouring room.
No engineer wants a customer hovering over their shoulder. Tell them to shout on you if they need help, and let them tackle what’s often a complex and technical job without interruption.
Unless this is the person who caused whatever problem you’re experiencing, don’t launch into complaints. They’re here to help, and what’s happened before is beyond their control.
Patience is also a virtue. Asking “are you done yet?” is unlikely to go down well considering they’re not deliberately prolonging their stay.
Be aware that they’re doing a job just like anyone else.
If they say they’re going to work through lunch to get the job finished, express gratitude. If they ask to borrow a ladder, fetch it immediately. Treat them how you’d expect to be treated yourself.
After the visit
Thank them for coming, show them out, and make a few notes on who visited you and what they said. This will be useful if the situation persists, and further engineer visits are required.
Don’t assume any problems will be instantly resolved. It may take time for hardware to fully reboot, or further engineering work might be needed at the local exchange.
If you’re unhappy with the standard of work, take photographic evidence (your camera or smartphone should automatically date-stamp it) and forward it onto the company’s customer services division.
Conversely, if you’re pleased with the engineer’s work, provide positive feedback. They’re often judged on customer comments, so give praise where it’s due.