It’s Time for Phone Support to Grow Up
2 min readApr 16, 2024

I called Parkmobile for a technical issue recently and had a pretty good experience, getting a quick answer in about 5–7 minutes. But that was only after having a typical, time-wasting experience trying their online chat system.

The chat looked like it might be an immediate connection to a live person, as they all “seem” to be from the phrasing on the screen. Of course, it was not. I seem to recall it started with the gauntlet of “did you try this…” nonsense, and maybe the usual filtering questions. Then, when there was the very “non-human” delay of several seconds after posing my question, I immediately stopped donating my precious last days on earth to Parkmobile and clicked off. (I’m retired; it’s always my precious last days on Earth.) What is the normal human response? Saying something like, “Hmm, good question,” or “Let me see,” some acknowledgement… anything at all, just not silence for several seconds… even if that one support person/server is handling 12,000 chat sessions.

It’s time for all techsupport… phone support… phone call IVR (interactive voice response systems)… and maybe even real human ‘operators’… to be backed up by a completely robust visual dashboard/status screen the minute you connect via whatever mode: app, web, SMS, social media, phone, or even physical presence (which I’ll explain… think restaurant).

Every system should have a support sessions dashboard/status web page as follows. It shows…

  1. The quantity of sessions, numeral and bars on a chart… ABSOLUTELY including those sessions that have not transitioned to human interaction.
  2. Quantity of human agents.
  3. The category of each session (billing, login, security, dispute, technical, other).
  4. The quantity of sessions per category (numeral). Colored pie chart.
  5. The duration of each session, bar chart.
  6. Possible sanitized transcription of issue (“Where are Activity History items older than current year?” [Oh, they’re buried in a stupid un-integrated feature poorly named My Pages, written by a non-native speaker, and showing uncompleted visual elements? Why couldn’t I figure that out, with only 40 years of software insider experience?)
  7. The system would be available as a web page to all… even those who initiated the interaction by voice call.

By having the full story… all the data… full disclosure… the full promise of technology… the mature state of the art, not just the dark ages “7 callers ahead of you, wait time of 165 minutes,” maybe customers would be empowered to solve a few problems themselves, have more patience to wait when sensible (thereby reducing callbacks), and save everyone time and money.

Such a system would even be useful outside of techsupport, such as standing at the host/Maitre de desk of a restaurant, in which case all of the information would be about tables and dining groups, not technical problems. But that’s a story for another page.