Monday, November 03, 2014

Laugh, Cry, Whatever

I'm on site this week.  I have a customer who is experiencing a problem with their PRI provider.  They have an existing span which fails when they move it to our equipment.  It's actually a very interesting failure as this absolutely SHOULD work.

So why am I dragging my butt out of bed, putting on my pajamas and blogging about it?

I am a low-level minion now at COMPANY NAME REDACTED so my job is to answer the phone, work the problem and move on.  I was passed over for promotion and I would normally say something like, "The other guy is really good and they had a tough choice" except for I was hired for that job.  I was supposed to be a low-level minion at COMPANY NAME REDACTED while I learned the product and then I was to be moved to a mid-level minion.  Instead, I am in support queue Hell.

Low level minions are NOT supposed to go on site.  So why am I?  As my boss put it, I am just the eyes and ears for our top-level minion.

Of course, he didn't respond to my IMs or emails all day today, so I did what I do.  I worked the problem.

I shouldn't gripe but I've been doing support for fifteen years at this point.  The way to be successful at support is to get the call, work the call, fix the problem.  Three simple steps.  Support isn't like making widgets where each widget is exactly the same and you should be able to make 30 an hour or whatever, each support case is different, different things have been tried, the setup for each is different, you must be flexible and it takes however long it takes.

With the advent of "The Great Recession" (tm) employers started hiring "Consultants" (remember kids, if you aren't part of the solution, you're a consultant) to review "Metrics".  Metrics are all about how to do more with less.  So the assembly line of support is created.

Get the call, work the call, give the customer something to do, get off the call and onto the next call.

I STRONGLY disagree with this model as I am one of the guys who gets the frustrated and now pissed of customer who has been fighting a problem all day long and feeling like he's getting the run around.  I (and some others) wind up working the call and trying to recover the customer and making sure the problem gets fixed.  This is great for CSAT, but total crap for Metrics.  I take longer to work calls and therefore pull fewer.  Although when I do send a case up, chances are fair that it is a legit problem. (Not always, I am human.)

So my stubborn insistence on doing things the right way directly impacted my moving to mid-level minion.

So, what does this mean?  Nothing really.  No time to write (beyond this), no time to rehearse music, no time to play in a band outside of church, no time for illustrations.

In short, no time for fun in life.  Makes you wonder, "Why bother?"

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Magic Of Apathy

A co-worker found a very effective way to deal with difficult cases.  He followed Roderick's Rules and performed a "Deny, Deny, Deny".

Let me expand.

I get a frustrated customer from Widgets Inc. that said my co-worker (let's call him "Fred" for this example) was supposed to have called him back last night.  I check the case and there are no notes from Fred and Fred did not take ownership of the case.  So, as far as our records showed, Fred never touched the case or talked to this customer.

Normally in tech support you follow the "Trust, but verify" model which means, the person on the phone isn't lying to you, but they might be wrong in what they are telling you.  This is a pretty effective method for everything so I tried to reach Fred on IM.  Unfortunately Fred was at lunch.

The customer was VERY SPECIFIC about what Fred did, said and told them he was going to do.  Plus they were pretty upset that they weren't called back.  So I wind up working the case with an unhappy customer trying to get them back to happy status.

It was a beautiful job on Fred's part.  He ditches the unhappy customer, the difficult case, plus his STATS look good and since he put nothing in the case, he gets no blow back.

I'm now working under a couple of different stat metrics which are screwing me.  First, the more cases you pull, the better your stats.  Balance that with the customer satisfaction survey (CSAT) and it rolls together to determine who gets a better shift at the end of the rotation.

Fool me once...

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Body Envy

I was in high school when the movie Top Gun came out in 1986.  I remember the volleyball scene and while the scene was in there to provide eye candy for the ladies, it was soul crushing for a 14 year old airplane geek.

Well, hello there ladies!
Yep, I wanted to fly jets.  Prior to 1986 I wasn't looking anywhere other than the cockpit of an F-15.  It was (and still is) a BEAST of an aircraft.  Top Gun changed that for me and I was dying to fly an F-14.  When the F-18 came to the fleet, I was still a Tomcat fanboy.

Furthermore, I wanted to be a sex symbol.  To have the ladies oooh and ahhh over my chiseled features.

I wanted to be a hunky guy like Val Kilmer.

Finally I accomplished at 42 what I couldn't do at 14.

Well, hello ladies!  NOM!  NOM!  NOM!
Yep, I finally have Val Kilmer's body.  We are literally twice then man we used to be.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Is The Audience Listening?

I started to write a blog post refuting NASA's latest claims that Global Warming is on temporary hiatus, but rest assured it is just around the corner waiting to steal your lunch money and have unprotected sex with you when you least expect it.

Kind of like The Spanish Inquisition. No one expects The Spanish Inquisition!

I didn't write about it. Despite articles pointing to no increase in global temperatures for 15+ years.  Despite articles explaining the Arctic Ice sheet is at its highest summer level in years. Despite even the coolest Summer on record in years.

Did I not write about this because I am afraid? Because I am a flat-Earther or a Luddite or because I cannot bear to understand the intricacies in my tiny brain?

No, I didn't write about it because everyone has already made their minds up.  Writing about it will only be ignored on the Left, and sounding into an echo chamber on the Right.  Everyone thinks their opinion is the only one that is right.  The key there is "Opinion".

Most of us are not educated scientists. I'm a tech support geek.  I dropped out of college.  I will most likely never run a fortune 500 company or be a millionaire.   When I die, my family and some friends will care, but the majority of the world won't.  In short, I'm nobody.  My opinion doesn't matter.  I am to pay my taxes and complain about politics like a good minion.  My opinion means  nothing.

What my life and my career has taught me above all else is "Trust but verify."  Remember that phrase from the 80's?  Talking about our nuclear arsenal and our disarmament methods with the Soviet Union.  I always begin by giving the other side the benefit of the doubt.  Their intentions may be pure. I then verify the facts.  Very often (but not always) we find something they insisted they had "Already checked" which they missed.  I then graciously agree that it was weird that the setting changed itself on its own and wow, I'll be on the lookout for problems like that in the future.

I truly believe the customer was 100% confident and sincere in their statements, however it's my job to figure out why their phones don't work.

Global Warming folks (aka Climate Scientists) are continuing to rail into the night skies that the end is near, man will destroy the world.  Only their short-term predictions haven't come through.

BUT YOU GUYS BETTER BELIEVE THEIR LONG TERM PREDICTIONS WILL COME THROUGH BECAUSE... SCIENCE!!!

I'm reminded of several years back when the local meteorologists predicted a Winter storm that was going to dump several inches of snow on Dallas.  They told us when it was going to start and the local news had reporters at major intersections to record the chaos.  Those reporters stood in the cold describing how ominous the skies looked,  how it could break loose at any second and how despite no Winter precipitation the roads were going to be treacherous.

It never came.  The snow completely missed us.  We watched through the night as the snowfall estimates were adjusted lower, and lower, and lower, until they were forced to admit we "Dodged a bullet."

The meteorologists did just what the Climate Scientists are doing.  Changing the facts, to fit their prediction.

Weird, I wrote about Climate Change after all.