Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A&A support hours

We have extended our support hours, which are now 8am to 6pm, Mon-Fri, except (English) public holidays. No, not an April fool's joke, honest.

Previously we worked 9am to 5pm, and sales/accounts still do. However the support staff can usually address simple/urgent queries in those areas if necessary.

Occasionally we do have people ask why we only work office hours, and it is worth trying to explain this. Many ISPs do, indeed, have 24 hour telephone support, for example.

For most of our services, there are faults that come in two flavours. Either there is some "shit hitting fan" big issue, in which case we have staff, and myself, getting involved in fixing things whatever time it is, or some individual line fault for DSL. It is pretty rare to have individual faults for VoIP, SIMs, etc, but you can, of course, get line faults for DSL.

When it comes to individual DSL faults, there are a load of things people can do at home/office to eliminate equipment and test for themselves, and we offer various on-line tests via our control pages. This can help resolve things. But the issues that don't just go away, and would require support staff to do something, are almost always something that needs a BT engineer to go out.

With very few exceptions, BT engineers are not going to be going our any quicker if we book them next working day at 9am. So having support staff take calls in the middle of the night would not usually be any help. We also have no intention of farming support out to call centres following scripts.

However, we have decided to extend the hours a bit. The reasons being :-
  • BT engineers work 8am to 6pm normally, and so we can help address any issues that come up with an engineer visit, and talk to the engineer or our customer about it at the time. This has already been seen with some 8am visits by engineers who are confused by the notes and need us to explain.
  • Starting at 8am gives customers a chance to resolve issues that can be resolved by talking to support before the usual working day for most people. If it is a line fault, that is not much help, but if it is a matter of swap a router or reboot something, we can offer the necessary advice before you have an office full of people that cannot work.
  • Starting at 8am and finishing a 6pm allows a lot of people that work during the day to contact us from home where they have an issue with their home broadband. We know some customers appreciate that.
  • We have increased the number of support staff, allowing some staggered working hours so that we can offer this.
But please do bear in mind, we do have irc, with a simple web front end, which can offer various help and advice by staff and other customers at all sorts of times. It is informal support from staff outside normal hours, but is usually available. We are thinking of perhaps extending this to be more formal evening irc support at some point maybe, with a rota of some sort.

Obviously we're interested in feedback on how the new support hours work for customers.


  1. Sadly I'm no longer a customer of your broadband as of this week, but this would further encourage me to return when the time comes, not that I'd need any encouragement.

  2. As I only have the one device (PC) and connection irc is of no use if my connection goes down and the two times it has gone down have been on a Friday evening. That said, I did appreciate the prompt 'out of hours' response to my text messgae to inform me that there was a backhaul problem that was being dealt with (and was resolved on both occasions in less than an hour).

    I just wondered whether you could consider using text to automatically inform affected customers whenever there is a major outage outside of normal hours. On such occasions I really just need confirmation so that I know that nothing has gone wrong with my line or equipment, knowing that A&A will soon have the problem fixed.

  3. There is (or was) an option on the control pages to sign up for text messages informing you of outages or planned work. I signed up, but never got any texts on the subject.

  4. Personally, I'd dislike automated notification of outages. I'd much prefer a simple web page I could access on a mobile device, a number I could SMS my broadband number or account reference to and/or an "automated voice prompt" system which would allow broadband number/account reference to be entered - in each case a "Sorry, no reported problems - press 1 to open a new case"/ "We are aware of .... ETA: X"/"No reported problems,but detection is showing issue. Contacting technician".

    I know "old Demon" used to have a "fingerable" service status system and an automated telephone service (well, it was just a answering machine on loop which they updated every hour or major incident).

    1. There is a web page, and we tweet, and there is a feed burner to email posts, so lots of ways of finding these or being advised of them actively on a mobile phone, and all of which are massively cheaper than old fashioned SMS.

  5. That's great news Adrian, as that more or less mirrors our hours of operation as a customer :)