Call Center and Tech Support Tools

This post and others like it relate back to an introductory post that explains the point. This is an edited variant of something I wrote in 2007, in this case, call center and tech support related software. In no particular order, the list as best I can remember…

Aspect call center monitoring
Microsoft PSS Workbench
Clarify Compass
Escalation Assistant
Web Response Tracker
Web Coach
Training Evaluation

The first four items were a part of doing Microsoft support and, later, being a technical supervisor. MSDN and Technet were tools we also used at times, and sort of indirectly support the use of.

Escalation Assistant was a program I wrote, used in VB support, to gather the appropriate information about a case – ensuring that people did indeed gather as well as include all of it – before escalating to second level support. It would format the details and put it all on the clipboard to paste into Compass. The people handling escalations were very appreciative.

I helped pioneer “web response” online support by the VB team. Initially I volunteered to do web responses between calls, during a time when we were adequately staffed. One Monday, the second level contact at Microsoft assigned me all the web responses the weekend guy had summarily escalated because he’d not had time to do them, effectively choosing me to do web responses, rather than phone support, full time. Since I loved writing responses, that was fantastic.

We ended up with a team of people doing them, me in the lead. I supervised the creation of a program for tracking the web responses we did.

When I became a supervisor (“technical development lead,” TDL for short) and phased out of doing web responses, one of my jobs was “coaching.” That is, listening to people and giving them feedback on their support calls. How do you do that with written responses? How do you randomize it? I wrote a little program to randomly select a case to read, for a selected support tech, during a specified time period.

Finally, as TDL I ended up in charge of training, which turned out to be one of those things I do best (which really is a specific application of a more general trait). Not the training, though I’m good at that too, once I get past the terror of speaking to a group, but planning, orchestrating, and changing the details as circumstances dictate. I did a few parts myself, but for most of it I lined up others with the appropriate strengths, and lined up future trainers to learn from current trainers of some topics.

It had been traditional for the trainees to fill out paper evaluation forms. I supervised and tested the creation of a program to gather the same data, which put it into a more useful format.

It occured to me to wonder where one might mention things like making Regedit dance and sing, or using sysinfo, dxdiag, or whatever. That reminded me of Regclean, which I seem to recall was originated by someone on the VB (or perhaps developer support more generally) team at Microsoft as a way to cleanup obsolete registrations of OCX files and such. That in turn reminded me of a utility called V-BeGone, written by one of my colleagues. We used it to have people comprehensively get the OCX and OCA files specific to Visual Basic (as it existed at the time) out of the way without affecting third party controls.

Some of this overlaps the category of software I wrote, managed, or was otherwise involved in.

Next up, languages and programming tools.

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