If I were designing a Help Desk application from the ground up, there’s one feature I’d put front and center: Requester Competency Rating.

Every time help desk personnel handle a call or request, they should be able to rate the technical competency of the person on the other end of the phone. Right now, the default position for every support call is that the person asking for assistance is a pre-schooler, and you build up from there.

Case in point: a month and a half ago I registered a request for help with a vendor. I’d already spent a couple of weeks identifying a problem and eliminating as many possible causes as I could think of,┬ádocumenting every step with data and including this information in my request. I was finally granted my request for a remote session today, where the person helping me spent over an hour performing the exact steps I’d already performed and included in my request.

The problem is that I have logged several requests with this vendor in the past, and each request has been in regards to an actual problem with their system that I’d identified and isolated. Wouldn’t it make sense to have a system that can flag any new requests I make in the future? Shouldn’t the default position be “incoming request from a guy who it’s safe to assume has already read our manual, read the community support forums, and still has a problem”?

Help desk people who deal with internal users (behind the firewall) probably develop a pretty good idea of who has technical skills and who doesn’t already, but there should be an easy way for them to share this information among themselves and for any new people who join the support team. Every time the phone rings or a ticket is submitted, the person who will be handling the request would have a huge leg up if they already knew what kind of user they are going to be dealing with.

And that’s not meant as an insult to non-technical users either. They need (and deserve) to have their hands held a little more than a tech savvy user, and there’s nothing wrong with doing that. It just doesn’t make sense to waste the time of someone who has already done half of the help desks work by isolating the issue for them. Why not leverage them to help provide better service to everyone?