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For 2023 - we are now fully retired from IT training.
We have made many, many friends over 25 years of teaching about Python, Tcl, Perl, PHP, Lua, Java, C and C++ - and MySQL, Linux and Solaris/SunOS too. Our training notes are now very much out of date, but due to upward compatability most of our examples remain operational and even relevant ad you are welcome to make us if them "as seen" and at your own risk.

Lisa and I (Graham) now live in what was our training centre in Melksham - happy to meet with former delegates here - but do check ahead before coming round. We are far from inactive - rather, enjoying the times that we are retired but still healthy enough in mind and body to be active!

I am also active in many other area and still look after a lot of web sites - you can find an index ((here))
Getting a phone line changed ...

Let me see if I can remember this.

1. I called a number, and went through a series of four menus, looking to speak to someone. In between the various elements of the call, I was told that I could read all about in on the web, and that my call might be recorded for quality purposes. I was then asked to enter my account number - which I did - before going into a queue where a recorder Scottish lady interrupted every minute or so to tell me that my call was important to them, but that they were very busy and thank you for waiting.

After about five minutes in the queue, a real person came on the phone and asked me for my account number - which I gave again - and asked me what my query was about. He called himself "business call reception" and listed to what I had to ask for; he couldn't actually help himself (I suspect that he couldn't actually provide answers to anyone judging by his job title) so he put me into another queue with a different hold tune (music this time - not ringing out) which can back every minute or so to re-assure me that my call was important but that they were busy just at the moment. Did I tell you that the system in this queue asked me to enter my account number?

A further ten minutes or so, and I think I got to the top of the queue ... which was manned by a telephone answering service which assured me how important my call was, and asked me to leave my account number, a message, and my number so that they could call me back.

2. Credit to them - a call back within 20 minutes, and a gentlemen looking for an explanation of what I was calling about. He wanted to know my account number, of course, which he looked up on his computer. And - bad news - it's an account that has been delegated to a local franchise / office and he can't help. "You need to phone them" he says, but when I ask him for the number he tells me it's a new office and he has go off and get it. I ask if it's a direct number for the department I need, or another menu system but he doesn't know - "it's different at different local offices, and Bath and Bristol is a new one".

3. The number I was given "looks" good, but turns out to be out of service - a long, continuous tone.

4. Looking through the web site for another appropriate number to call, I'm surprised by the lack of numbers for what I need on the site of what's a major telecom supplier and should be pretty darned good at communicating - but I do find a "web chat" page which tells me that there's a zero wait time in the queue. I click hopefully, and a local application of some sort loads.

I'm first in the queue, it tells me, and queues me. The queue obviously had been empty before I came along, but the person manning it must have been dealing with something else ... so as soon as I ask for help that zero time went up ... and in turned out to have gone up to about five minutes before Andy said "Hello".

Andy read my question - looking to move a phone number from one line to another - and typed that he would have to go away and find out ... he put me on hold (in an internet sort of way) for a further five minutes or so before he came back to me.

It seems that he can't help with this via the web - I need to speak to someone on the telephone. He helpfully gives me a new number to call and says "bye".

5. I call the number that Andy gave me, and I'm asked to enter my account number. Which I do. I'm told my call may be recorded for quality purposes, and make a couple of menu selections before finding myself in a holding queue which comes back every minute or so to tell me that my call is important, but that they're very busy at the moment.

After about five minutes in the queue, a real person came on the phone and asked me for my account number - which I gave again - and asked me what my query was about. She called himself "business call reception" and listed to what I had to ask for; she couldn't actually help herself (I suspect that she couldn't actually provide answers to anyone judging by her job title) so she put me into another queue with a different hold tune (music this time - not ringing out) which can back every minute or so to re-assure me that my call was important but that they were busy just at the moment. Did I tell you that the system in this queue asked me to enter my account number?

Yes - I did copy and paste the last paragraph from earlier in this article - a complete circle that has taken around an hour, and here I was waiting again for "pot luck" as to whether I got a real person or dropped off the queue onto a machine ... and further pot luck as to whether the person I eventually got to talk to would know enough to help ...

6. I actually got through to someone who could actually help (although she had to go off and call "the back room in India" to get an answer, and came back on to recommend a two year extension contract; not a snap decision to make either, as it would mean changing phone systems and how we work as we retire the old ISDN system. Helpfully, she gave me a number I could call her back on "direct" - but it's always busy, or just rings out - and it doesn't accept callback requests. However, by this time we've moved on to the story of another day, so the subject is no longer "how my Monday afternoon was wasted" but rather "it continued on Tuesday" :-(

At Well House, we're a service company and we value our customers; my frustrating experience has left me very sure that I want to minimize the business that we place with the company concerned above (we have another supplier of part of our telecoms who are excellent) and to set down our own targets and standards which look to give you a good practical customer experience - and answers to the questions you've called to ask - if you phone us about courses or hotel rooms.

How should customer calls be answered?

The phone should answer within six rings.

A SINGLE level menu system is acceptable, with a message of less than 30 seconds during which you should be given a clear instruction of which key to press to speak to someone.

A person should then come onto the line within a further eight rings (if you select that option).

A substantial majority of questions should be answerable by the person who's picked up the phone at this stage; that person should give their name, and be friendly and helpful.

Where the caller cannot be answered by the person who's picked up the call, it should EITHER be transferred to the correct person (who should be briefed in summary before the holding caller is put through), OR the caller should be promised a call back, with a time scale given for that returned call.

(written 2010-02-25, updated 2010-03-03)

Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
G501 - Well House Consultants - Customer Service
  [72] On Customer Service - (2004-10-03)
  [91] On line every 24 hours - (2004-10-17)
  [126] Feedback shows the tip of an iceberg - (2004-11-22)
  [150] Confession - (2004-12-13)
  [189] Tuesdays and Fridays - (2005-01-25)
  [195] Customer service - examples to warn us - (2005-01-30)
  [233] Giving customers best value - (2005-03-02)
  [265] Business practise, 2005 style - (2005-04-03)
  [327] How far should our support go - (2005-05-28)
  [350] Want to be one better - (2005-06-17)
  [393] Trainer answers phone - (2005-07-28)
  [440] Upgrade! - (2005-09-09)
  [482] Different ways of selling - (2005-11-01)
  [552] Keeping Customers Informed - (2006-01-02)
  [566] May all your screw-ups be big ones - (2006-01-16)
  [569] Instructions for bright people - (2006-01-19)
  [609] Been on a course, but still not got it? - (2006-02-16)
  [621] And the staff put the icing on the cake - (2006-02-23)
  [628] Active Learning - (2006-02-28)
  [650] A person of few words - (2006-03-18)
  [717] A customer service company - (2006-05-11)
  [725] Better communication - (2006-05-19)
  [841] Forum help - a push in the right direction - (2006-08-21)
  [852] Eventful evening - a lesson in looking after contacts - (2006-09-02)
  [944] Just ******* Google it - (2006-11-25)
  [961] Products that our customers want more of - (2006-12-03)
  [966] CSL, KISS and RTFM - (2006-12-05)
  [1007] Friends and family - (2006-12-25)
  [1046] Bounce, bounce, bounce - (2007-01-20)
  [1262] Keep in touch with PHP, Perl, Python and old friends too - (2007-07-09)
  [1319] Customer feedback - lifeblood of a business - (2007-08-25)
  [1434] Market survey - to learn, to prove a point, or to sell your product? - (2007-11-17)
  [1446] An answer to a student asking 'Help' - (2007-11-27)
  [1516] Pictures you can use - for free - from our library - (2008-01-23)
  [1606] Sheep Shearers, Marathon Runners and Ocean Sailors - (2008-04-09)
  [1637] Providing exceptional service - and carrying on doing so. - (2008-05-09)
  [1835] 23:30 bookings and midnight checkins - (2008-10-12)
  [1985] Learning to program as a part of your job - (2009-01-10)
  [1991] Rules for a King - (2009-01-13)
  [2015] Service Excellence Awards - (2009-01-30)
  [2049] Why Choose Well House Consultants for your course? - (2009-02-20)
  [2102] What do people think of our Apache httpd / Tomcat course? - (2009-03-24)
  [2124] Building down expectations - (2009-04-09)
  [2236] Alumni - revisiting and supporting the old University - (2009-06-13)
  [2258] Questions I have been asked on answering the phone - (2009-06-26)
  [2530] Taking a knock over Santa - (2009-12-08)
  [2880] Getting in touch - Please allow me to see you when you are online - (2010-07-21)
  [2961] Initial handling of phone calls and walk in visitors - (2010-09-19)
  [3073] Customer Service - the boundary - (2010-11-27)
  [3103] Thank you - and Happy Christmas - (2010-12-24)
  [3271] The importance of feedback - (2011-04-30)
  [3294] It's not just about the jam in the sandwich - (2011-05-19)
  [3378] New product - ensuring that supply matches demand - (2011-08-03)
  [3808] Can you put names to faces? - (2012-07-19)
  [3835] The Information age - not yet truly with us? - (2012-08-12)
  [4077] Palty or Parliamentary? - (2013-04-30)
  [4078] Train works for me! - (2013-05-02)
  [4232] Not wanted here - hotel guests who will not be happy - (2013-12-30)

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Calculation within objects - early, last minute, or cached?
Some other Articles
Java - from applets to servlets. JSPs and more
Java Server Pages - putting it all together
Reading and writing cookies in Java Servlets and JSPs
Calculation within objects - early, last minute, or cached?
Getting a phone line changed ...
Length, size or capacity in Java?
Java arrays - are they true arrays or not?
Removing duplicates from a MySQL table
Compile but do not run PHP - syntax check only
Optimising and caching your MySQL enquiries
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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