The First Rule of Call Troubleshooting

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David Currier

A quick Google search for call troubleshooting tips returns a few possible first steps:

  • Everything is true, look for what isn’t
  • Keep an open mind
  • Maintain complete objectivity]
  • Trust your data

But my favorite is “Assume nothing.”

Today, my wife called me on my cell phone just as I was climbing into the car to head home. She was calling from her cell phone and is on the same carrier/plan that I am. We talked for a couple of minutes and then both clearly heard the announcement “This call is now being recorded.” We were both very surprised, and just a bit disturbed.

I immediately hung up and called customer support to let them know what had happened. I tried to be very polite and professional about it, but could tell that the poor fellow had definitely never had a report of such an issue. Clearly, an unauthorized recording would be very serious. While he frantically contacted the technical support team, their support team, management, and probably a few other people, I got to thinking… and pealing away my assumptions.

At first, I thought that I may have incorrectly assumed that the message could not have been played by an application on either of our phones. However, I had previously done a fair amount of research to see if it was possible and could not find a way to do it — possible assumption, but unlikely. This message was more likely played at the “carrier” level.
More importantly, I realized that I had assumed that the message would have been played by our cell phone carrier. Another quick Google search reminded me that my wife not only had my mobile number, but my Google Voice number. Sure enough, there have been a number of reports of this message being played in error. I confirmed my suspicions by having my wife check her call history and then informed a very relieved support representative.

So the next time you receive a frantic call reporting that a user isn’t getting voice mail messages, “Assume nothing.” Don’t assume that their voice mail is actually broken. Don’t assume that callers are actually leaving messages. Don’t assume that the user is correctly accessing their voice mail. But, just because only one user has reported an issue, don’t also assume that everyone else’s voice mail is working correctly or that the problem may only affect voice mail delivery.

Remember: “Assume nothing.”


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