Too many to mention
As with everyone who's done front line support the number of stories is nearly endless, some of the few I remember...
Worked for a prestigious Norfolk based sports car manufacturer. There was a guy who dealt with displays outside of the dealers, lots of stands and displays. However he insisted in using the word 'erection' to describe most of them, I'd daily have to unblock a mail that was blocked due to profanity. The mail filter was ancient and wouldn't accept new words in the 'allowed' list, he simply refused to use a different term. Nice chap though so not a problem.
At the same place I ducked a call due to being lazy, turns out that a laptop was losing its connection to equipment attached to its serial port, turns out that this laptop was owned by a testing engineer, and the problem only occured at over 90mph on a particularly exciting chicane on the companies test track, colleague got a go in the passengar seat of the new Exige whilst being sped round the track :( (it was a dodgy cable, and we both knew it straight away, didn't stop him going over to 'confirm it' though)
Major insurer, based out of Norwich (recently renamed!). 'Customer' as we were forced to call them* called. her mouse pointer wasn't moving smoothly. Basic checks were performed, she was asked to look at hte rollers in the mouse, which were covered in filth. When it was explained that she needed to give them a quick scrape to get the cack off she refused. She busted out with the whole 'don't you know who I am, I'm too busy to do this, I want an engineer over immediatly' line. After much too-ing and fro-ing she got put through to a team leader, who immediatly capitulated (as usual!). So an engineer was sent, with ear buds and some rubbing alchohol. 3 days later (all within SLA ;) )
Also heard about someone from the Premier Support (look aftr the bigwigs/vips) getting called out to remove a wasp from some VP's office. I believe he picked up a copy of a tabloid en-route and beat the poor guy to death (the wasp that is). Didn't go down to well apparently, they wanted it dealt with humanely. Had a good laugh about that one.
*apparently the term user made 'everyone sound like they had drug problems', when I suggested that it didn't sound like that to me, and asked what that said about the incumbent head of's personal habits I was asked to leave the meeting :(
Current place - mysterious virus sprung up, over and over again. Our AV was capturing it as it tried to launch itself across the network. The infrastructure guys honeypot machines were getting hammered though (VMWare, incoming stuff only!). Some diligent tracing led to an office in some godforsaken town somewhere, whilst attempting to track down someone on site who we could ask what the hell they were doing it became apparent that said office had been closed some 6 months before. However no-one had informed IT, therefore the ADSL line in and switch were still in place and live. Someone in the office who'd taken over had obviously found it and was attempting to get some kind of connection on it. And when I say switch, this wasn't some netgear shit that cost £20 from ebuyer...
I understand that huge public facing support desks have to have what is tradionally a first line (ie call loggers, working from a script that is unbendable and is forced to confirm to statistical requirements) any company with a limited user base of internal customers really need to review what they want from their helpdesk. From my experience your single best bet is to have well paid, competent people on your first line. Basically when customers ring they get someone who is 2nd line. Your first call fix goes through the roof, call times drop to next to nothing, customer satisfaction is up and generally things work. Of course this requires a more relaxed attitude towards the frontline staff, less of a concentration on performance metrics and more of a concentration of 'softer' targets like customer satisfaction. I know for a fact that if people call helpdesk and the phone gets picked up by someone who sounds like they know what they are talking about and who apparently have a genuine understanding of the issue in hand they are going to be far more accepting if their problem can't be fixed immediatly.
The major problem I see with this at the moment (sorry - its challenge these days isn't it).
Moving to having a a 'service desk' (looking at you ITIL) which is interpreted by adopters as being a script based, call logging call centre. Not a helpdesk at all... The problem that this causes is that in the unlikely event that someone who knows what they are doing is employed, they immediuatly look to move to second line and end up off the phones. Or they get promoted to a 'team leader' and end up off the phones. Basicallly all progression within a helpdesk, for the talented people, ends up with the good people leaving the phones, leaving only those who are only capable of basic script following left.
I actually *enjoy* talking to our customers. So I'm still on the helpdesk, but I've found a place that agrees with my beliefs. I'm good at what I do, I'm a 2nd line tech but I still answer the phones. But when people call me (or my 'helpdesk' colleagues) they know that we'll know what needs doing and do it straight off.
Having worked for a large Helpdesk (120 1st line staff) where they generally employed students who are looking for a summer job, or people with a 3rd in CompSci or other people who weren't techy at all I can say that this drives the very issues that the company were looking to get rid of. They thought that call metrics were how to drive improvements, so we *had* to take at least 60 calls a day and answer 10 emails. How much time do you think this left us (especially the few of us who were useful) to actually help people. Very little is the answer. So everyone moved on. Except for me. Their solution, reduce costs and move half the call centre offshore. Admittedly I got 3 months in Chennai living large with a personal driver, in a plush hotel but the model of getting people on the phones over there was a mess. Middle management had a desperation for it *not* to be script based, but then watching the guys over there floundering, unable to think of the right questions meant that we ended up with a list of 'suggested' questions, which was followed religiously. It was impossible.
Unfortunatly the Indian team I was working with, who were exceptionally intelligent and twice as hard working as my English colleagues, were entirely unsuited to the style of work (most of them anyway).
And once again the company devised metrics to keep everyone in check.
The problem really comes down to this. Offer a decent wage to your 'first line' team and you'll get genuinely capable people who'll stick around for a few years before naturally progressing to the next level, making space for the next talented individual who wants to get in on the act.
Helpdesk is stil lone of hte most valuable tools for learning how IT fits in with the business you are supporting, you talk to people who'll explain why they urgently need this email fixed, or how this loss of data will impact peoples lives (or any other thing that they've generally caused). Once you have that understanding moving to a backoffice team means you'll be able to continue to sympathise and therefore provide a far superior service.
Basically most customers are o.k. if you treat them as if they have half a brain, and they think you know what you are on about. Most of them, some of them are just retards.