I recently spent some time with Gary Pahl, Atomic Data’s most seasoned Level II Service Desk Technician. He’s been with Atomic Data for over four years and wears many hats as a Level II. He’s the first point of contact for a handful of high-level clients, a supervisor, internal IT for Atomic Data, a mentor, and a funnel for the SD to the rest of the company.
But before he came to Atomic Data, Gary was the Assistant Manager at a gas station. “It was the darkest time of my life,” recalls Gary. Everyone knows, or should know that customer service jobs can be rough. And at a gas station, you really see the worst of the worst. “You’re a cashier, I don’t have to talk to you,” said a customer laying down a handful of cash in an attempt to prepay for gas at one of the many numbered gas pumps. How are you going to prepay for gas without saying which pump the gas is supposed to flow from? Mind boggling.
Now, Gary enjoys his work significantly more. He works typical office hours, coming in usually on time, around 8am. He beeps his security card at the automatic doors past the front desk and walks into the Service Desk area. There are six rows of open concept-style desk spaces. There are already a few Techs in when he arrives. Some of our clients are on the East Coast, so we have a group of Techs in at 7am to take the slew of opening bell calls (we also have Techs on overnight to take care of issues 24x7, but most of the trouble happens 7am-7pm).
"I love working on the Service Desk. It’s a great group of people. We get things done, but we have a lot of fun."
Gary clocks in using the virtual clock system and gets to work. To start his day, Gary sets his team up for success. Gary changes the monitor walls to reflect the day’s workload. The large, square room has two walls filled with monitors. He determines and posts assignments to one monitor. Many of the Technicians are given a managed client to cover for the day, concentrating solely on them.
Gary then sets the rest of the monitors in the SD. He makes sure the correct resources are on the On-Deck/On-Call monitor, ensuring that the SD Techs know who to go to as an escalation point within each department. The majority of the other monitors carry info about different ticket queues and security feeds from the CC TV cameras in our buildings.
Then, he starts getting into the nitty-gritty. He digs into the ticket queues, reviewing open tickets to make sure that the Techs follow up on the issues, closing tickets that need closing and making sure that nothing slips through the cracks.
The calls have already started to roll in in earnest and by 9am the lines are full. All Technicians, including the Network Operations Center Techs are on the phone. The room is full of chatter, and then the receptionist comes through the doors, “can anyone take a call?” Taking calls isn’t Gary’s primary responsibility anymore. After his move to Level II over two years ago, Gary’s role is to assist the Level I Techs when they get stumped. He’s basically seen it all so he knows how to come in with some troubleshooting that Level I’s might not have thought of and if he can’t figure an issue out, he knows where it needs to go.
“Transfer it to me,” Gary says. “Atomic Data, this is Gary. How can I help you?” He listens to the user describe the issue. His phone demeanor is light and friendly, yet professional. While he responds to the user he types notes – contact info, reason for the call. He also opens a ticket in our system. But then he stops. “Okay. This is a request that’s going to need to be escalated to our Network team. The question is whether they can do that remotely or if they’ll need to go on-site. I’ll figure that out, and we’ll get back to you.” He ends the call. In maybe a minute he determined the user request was not something that he could fulfill. It’s important not to waste anyone’s time; it raises billing questions and enables Gary to get back to his primary duties like assisting and managing the Level I Techs.
Though Gary has limited phone time, he is still the primary point of contact for some select top clients. As a Level II he’s trusted with administrator rights to a handful of managed SD clients. Meaning that he or one of the other Level II’s are the only Techs able to complete tickets for those clients. Typically, during the week Gary has meetings with high-level clients. These are check-ins to go over tickets, ticket trends, recurring issues, new instructions for the Service Desk and new documentation among other things.
The day moves along towards lunch, Gary answers questions and manages the team. Today the SD Director is gone, making him the most senior Tech on the floor. It’s not like the Techs can’t handle things themselves, but today it seems that Gary is in charge.
Gary also takes care of internal IT. Lately, he’s been setting up new workstations and creating documentation for a standard protocol anyone can follow. He’s also working on a few other documentation projects like new hire training programs and any new client documentation so that the Service Desk is as prepared as possible for new SD clients coming onboard.
As it passes through lunch time, the day slows down a bit. Most users are on break. Gary waits, though, as most of the Techs go on break in shifts. He waits until around three and likes to order too much Chinese food from Star Dragon. By the time Gary goes on break, the second shift has come in and the SD is all hands on deck.
" Though Gary has limited phone time, he is still the primary point of contact for some select top clients. As a Level II he’s trusted with administrator rights to a handful of managed SD clients."
After Gary comes back from break, his day is almost over. He tries to begin the cooldown on his day. The SD is still as busy as ever, it never really slows. But now that the second shift Level II has arrived there is three Level IIs and Gary has some time to go through some more of his managerial duties. He still fields questions from the Techs, but starts going back through the queues, making sure all tickets are touched, assigned to the correct resources and escalated if necessary.
“I love working on the Service Desk. It’s a great group of people. We get things done, but we have a lot of fun.” He says he can’t imagine working in a different department. And as the Service Desk grows, as the number of clients grows, Gary knows his role will only grow, too. He punches out and stands up away from his desk. He says goodbye to the remaining techs as he gets his coat from the coat rack near the door. Gary beeps his keycard at the door, steps through the lobby and outside into the cold January night.
See you in the morning, Gary.