It is one thing employing a person straight out of Uni that can Twitter, Blog and Tag everything in sight, but can they find a work-a-round to something Vista or Windows 7 insists is what has to be set up ‘This’ way or ‘That’ way? I guess not, as support desks workers often show they can’t work without a tip sheet to work from.

Even worse when you have to phone India, yep they speak English, but do they understand you? can you them? and worse still, do they actually know what they are talking about, without a script or tip sheet?

After phoning a UK help desk regarding setting up a broadband connection, I had to speak to 5 different support guys before I found anyone that could navigate around Windows 7. In fact, the first four support people were working from XP and Vista prompts and couldn’t find what they were looking for, and so just gave up.

Funny thing was, the last guy I spoke to was a 50yr old techie, and without a tip sheet, or a working knowledge of Windows 7 guessed his way around till we found what was needed to be changed on both the PC and the Router. One up of us oldies I feel, no its not ageism, it is fact, 19 or 20 something year old ex-Uni Bod Vs REAL experience proves, experience wins time and time again.

You all can imagine what phoning a Mumbai call centre would have been like with this scenario. This time however, not only was I glad to speak to someone English, but also someone old enough to remember how to resolve a fixed TCP/IP problem and their own DNS conflicts. Unlike other out-of-country call centres, when the Support Desk staff failed, I was instantly passed on to another, and another until the problem was resolved, they even called me back to save on the phone call costs.

Today I fix a Server for a Hotel, with that most dreaded of all software “bespoke” on it. Closely guarded programmers secrets and overly complicated drive mapping of the vendor software, made the job even harder. In the process however, I found out two of the staff at the hotel were ex-IT guys, and both had given it up due to low salaries and being stuck on Support Desk Day-in and Day-out, with no training and out of date tips sheets and constant verbal abuse from customers.

Both could of fixed the problem on the PC, (if given the chance). Both knew a lot about Windows and Computers, but both lacked the confidence to even try due to their IT experiences since leaving Uni. Sad to say working in a Hotel paid more than working a Help Desk.

As so many companies rely on us Techies, surely now is the time to bring back Support Desk Centres to the UK, give staff on-going and relative training to do their jobs, and create a career path to 2nd / 3rd line support, proper career development and a real salary.

The world of IT is more than just Facebook and Twitter , Tips Sheets you know, and Windows has many versions and quirks. You have to be aware of these old fixes and what has been done in the past to resolve problems, as often this is the same fix for newer versions. Telling us on a £1.50 a minute phone call the “ You don’t know Windows 7” or “Have I turned it Off and On Again” or “You will have re-install your old Windows XP back on your PC” is not an option.

Small wonder Call Centre staff often get irate customers and an earful for their trouble, when their tips sheets fail to provide a solution and their own experience isn’t of any use. These very same tips sheets also seem to ensure you are on the phone for as long as possible, racking up a £10 to £20 phone call, where if the Support staff knew their job in the first place, would have been fixed in less than a few minutes. So why are these Help desk jockeys little more than Social Networking experts?

Facebook, Twitter, Tagging and the like are just garbage of IT and don’t make IT technicians out of anyone. With support desks in India, Tech Support being out sourced, and salaries are getting lower, software is becoming dumber in favour of self-fix or wizard based repair, we will all be victims of out own money saving culture. Digital Britain (if it exsists) will become a frustrated graveyard of computers in need of tech support and the few that still work, will probably supply the often-mindless twaddle typed up on social networking sites.

It’s getting so that now many of my customers will not buy any IT kit unless, the Help-Desk is UK based and have a UK repair centre, so don’t we own it to our customers to have the best UK based support service?

The world is full of unhelpful, help desks….