Few years ago I used to work for Microsoft Windows support, and one of my responsibilities as a Tech lead was to barge into live tech calls. It was my duty to ensure that our support engineers delivered quality support to Microsoft customers, and groom tech support engineers in their technical and customer handling skills. In Windows process support engineers who met the quality goals were paid very handsome incentives for their efforts. An important metric was AHT or the Average Handling time, which was the time taken to resolve the issue, and other important ones being the resolution rate and first-contact resolution.

I was assigned to a relatively new team, which had average performers, except one smart individual; who I was told had consecutively been the star performer for 2 months. I was very happy to see his score card which was neat, with very impressive numbers. As a veteran I knew that an engineer with high first contact resolution scores will usually take longer on a call and vice versa. I also knew that to bag incentives, handling time had to be kept below 45mins on an average, and it was really difficult to do so. The team manager was very happy with this guy and wanted me to train all the other team members to perform in a similar fashion. This was quite a challenge and I started monitoring the calls for the entire team, most of them were average, there were a few good guys too, and like most techies they loved to solve problems. No one cared to look at their watch while working and needless to say their AHT suffered, but the customers were satisfied with them. All were trying hard to get the metrics right, in order to bag the coveted Key Contributor rank, all except Arun, he did it with ease and something didn’t seem right.

I barged into his call and observed him from a distance, a stop timer was running on his screen, and he was going easy with the customer, who was having a problem with his internet connectivity. I knew this might need a winsock fix which takes 30mins. His timer flashed 16mins, and he was making small talk, and the customer seemed to be cheerful, after using a quick method to reinstall DUN, he informed the customer that he would need to have an updated version of AOL dialer and he would conf with AOL tech support. The timer flashed 38mins, 3mins later the call ended. I must say he had very good customer handling skills which explains why his surveys come out well. Ideally following the linear and logical troubleshooting method this issue would have been resolved by us in a little over an hour, instead our star performer passed the buck!

In the coming weeks I monitored his calls closely and concluded that he had a very good understanding of how to take calls in a manner by which his scores are the best. Needless to say, he failed the tech monitors, and in spite of my coaching continued his malicious practices. The next month he received 3 very dissatisfied customer surveys, and his rank plummeted to Needs Improvement from key contributor. When the manager was informed about his modus operandi, he was shocked. The team members who felt inferior to him, performed better with more dedication. Arun was issued a cumulative action plan, which essentially means that if he does not improve his
scores in 2 weeks, he will be fired; later Arun was fired for integrity issues.

"Never hire anyone who will work for money alone." A good team has people who have a sparkle in their eyes, those who love work, and those who love to serve. Hire those who will throw away their watches while working. Business is managed successfully by good and committed employees and it takes much more than money to have good and committed employees.


Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are real. Any resemblance to fictitious persons, living or dead, is purely intentional.