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Topic: Here's a thought...ABOUT "LIVE" HELP

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Subject: Here's a thought...ABOUT "LIVE" HELP
Date Posted: 1/14/2008 7:04 PM ET
Member Since: 9/16/2007
Posts: 28
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I used  the so called LIVE HELP yesterday for the first time. I am now curious as to just what criteria the person has to help me with something here?

The person I used yeasterday started out OK then fizzled and left me hanging with no ..."will get back to you" or "let me find out" or anything.

My thought is, if you are going to be Live Help, then stick with the problem / person until it's resolved or direct it to someone that can actually answer something one way or the other.

I am not angry about it, but I was very disturbed by the person leaving me hanging for 7 hours!

Thanks for allowing the input.

Robin F.


Last Edited on: 1/14/08 7:06 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/14/2008 7:17 PM ET
Member Since: 10/30/2005
Posts: 3,562
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just what criteria the person has to help me with something here?

The only criteria is that they are PBS members who are volunteering their time and effort with no recompense for doing so. They get no special training, and are not paid employees. They are just dedicated PBS members, like us.

What was your problem? Is there something maybe one of us could help you with?

ETA: I know you are frustrated, but there is a very generous and helpful group here. And I would like to add that I appreciate every single one of them.

Last Edited on: 1/14/08 7:20 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/14/2008 7:27 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2007
Posts: 2,027
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You can always post your issue here and usually one of us can figure it out.  Or at least have an idea of what to do about it.

Date Posted: 1/14/2008 7:27 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
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A number of things could have happened. You may have caught them as they were signing off and they didnt get the message when you sent it. Two they may have needed more info and asked in the tour guide forum. When that happens we have to wait for the response. If it took long enough to get one, and depending on the time of day it can take a while, she may have needed to go to work or bed or take care of a baby.

What was your question?

Date Posted: 1/14/2008 7:54 PM ET
Member Since: 12/26/2005
Posts: 12,167
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My thought is, if you are going to be Live Help, then stick with the problem / person until it's resolved or direct it to someone that can actually answer something one way or the other.

This would require a lot of us to give up our (volunteer) Tour Guide duties.  Bear in mind how LH works.  If an active TG is logged onto PBS, they are considered available for LH.  This means that if I pop in for a few minutes on my lunch break, I may get a LH question while I'm there.  I will do my best to answer it on they fly, but if I have to do research to find an answer, it could easily be seven hours or more before I'm able to do that, since I don't have the luxury of being able to spend time on PBS while I'm at work. 

Same applies if I'm leaving for work in the AM, except that I don't always get to check in at lunch, so it could be 12 hours before I'm able to research an answer. 

Of course, this doesn't excuse being left hanging with no explanation - I always let people know if I need to gather information for them, but it make take hours, not minutes.

ETA:  Thanks, Dartha!

Last Edited on: 1/14/08 7:55 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/14/2008 8:03 PM ET
Member Since: 1/11/2007
Posts: 1,534
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Thanks, Dartha!  :-)

Date Posted: 1/14/2008 8:04 PM ET
Member Since: 10/30/2005
Posts: 3,562
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I guess I should restrain myself some more with the response of the criteria just being "breathing", huh? But, I have to let you know, that the restraint is kinda making my chest hurt, now.

Date Posted: 1/14/2008 8:07 PM ET
Member Since: 1/11/2007
Posts: 1,534
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Bite your tongue, Dartha.  :-)

Date Posted: 1/14/2008 8:36 PM ET
Member Since: 9/16/2007
Posts: 28
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Well...don't hold your breath too long, you might pass out!


I was mearly trying to see if there was some sort of training involved...sorry for what some of you thought was an "accusing" tone. That's the problem with reading, you have no way of knowing the tone of the typing.

RE: "Of course, this doesn't excuse being left hanging with no explanation" -[DOGDOC]

I just assumed it would be proper etiquette to simply say something like..."I'll get back to you" or something like that instead of just dead air.

I have recived an email from feedback and the issue had been resolved by me and the other party so it's no longer a problem.

Date Posted: 1/14/2008 10:02 PM ET
Member Since: 2/28/2007
Posts: 2,164
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Live Help - the term is a misnomer.  We live helpers don't get instant notification that we have a new question - we get an email and a message in our personal message boxes.  It's really more of an email system.  I think the term is confusing and I've complained about it - but it is what it is.  So, it's not that the person is being rude and simply not acknowledging you - it's that they may not know they have a new message.  Also, as others have stated, sometimes people write LiveHelp questions as we log off - so we receive the question after we are already off the site!

Also, when you bold, underline, and capitalize, it implies a tone.  Usually a negative one.  Just so you know.


Date Posted: 1/15/2008 12:38 AM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2006
Posts: 15,930
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Robin, I'm sorry you felt you were left hanging.  I hope everyone's explanation helps as to why this could have happened!  We step away, get distracted, log off, etc. 

I hope you did at least get your questions answered.


Date Posted: 1/15/2008 8:24 AM ET
Member Since: 6/13/2007
Posts: 905
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I think it goes both ways.  I have had  live help questions asked and sent  pm's asking for more info or clarification and never heard back from them even tho' I stayed on-line longer just so that I could reply.  I jsut figure that the person got the problem resolved on their own but it is kinda frustating to be left hanging.

no system is perfect but I think for the most part it works very well for a voluntary group.  good luck  :-)

Date Posted: 1/15/2008 10:57 AM ET
Member Since: 9/18/2005
Posts: 6,997
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Jeannette brings up a very valid point...that it goes both ways sometimes.  We are "live" in the sense that you can get help from us since we are online.  It would have certainly been nice for that TG to let you know that she was leaving for a few hours or that she would be sure to get back with you when she knew more, but sometimes we don't always foresee that it will take longer than a few minutes.

Like was said above, we are here voluntarily and we all do our very best to be there for the members.  But we are not "Live Help" like you think of "LH" at other sites.  Many of those sites have employees who are there ALL day cuz they are paid for it, and paid to do nothing but site online and answer questions.  We simply can't do that, and neither can the founders.  That's why there are so many of us....to make sure that someone is almost always around to answer questions.

Please don't throw out the baby with the bathwater....ask another of us and I'm sure we can get you straightened out. :)

Date Posted: 1/15/2008 12:58 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2006
Posts: 126
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I've used LH once, and I made her job really easy.  I e-mailed her, then checked on the problem, which had resolved itself, and e-mailed her again with that information.  She was very sweet and replied to me that she was glad it was resolved.

I know, not really having to do with the topic, but wanted to throw that in there anyway.


Date Posted: 1/15/2008 7:33 PM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2007
Posts: 6,447
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I have gotten LH questions after I've logged off. I sometimes forget to log off and I'll get them even if I'm not really here.  It would be nice if the yellow checkmark only indicated PMs or if we had a bell or something that let us know we had a PM.

I always tell a member that I will get right back to them if I have to go look for an answer. And that's what I say. LOL 


Date Posted: 1/15/2008 8:33 PM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2006
Posts: 1,956
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About 50% of the live help questions (I hate that it's called that  too!) I get require more details or clarification. In about 75% of those cases, even when I reply within 10 minutes with specific questions, I don't get a reply back before I have to log off , and I'll usually wait at least 30 minutes if it's at all possible.  We honestly don't intend to leave anyone hanging.  We want to help people, that's why we've volunteered.   However, since we don't have scheduled time or instant messaging, it is impossible for us to guarantee that we will be able to stay here and wait unitl we get a problem resolved.

I've noticed a lot of time, I could be a much more effective tour guide if : (1) Members kept in mind that Tour Guides don't have access to their account information.  We can't look at your account to help us explain your question.  and (2) People gave me more information/details when submitting a live help problem.  For example, don't just say, "I've clicked the button saying I've mailed a book, but I'm still getting emails telling me to mail the book."  Let us know the details like whether the book is still sitting under your Books to Mail tab or if it's moved to your Books I've Mailed tab and exactly what happens when you click the button to indicate that you've mailed the book.  Little details like that will make the difference between whether your question will be answered in one message or require more than one message back and forth. Of course, the more messages required, the longer you will have to wait for a solution.



Date Posted: 1/15/2008 11:34 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2006
Posts: 2,110
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I know I've gotten about 3 Live Help (yes, another vote for a different name!!!) questions when I've been logged off, and I find them hours later.  :(

And sometimes there are just things you want to double-check on to make sure you don't give out mis-information.

But yes, I agree that there should at least be an "I'll check and get back to you as quickly as I can today".

Yeah, we can't peek behind the magic curtain to see everyone's account information.  :(

There's no training, but there's a test you have to pass. 

I hope your next LH experience is better.  :)


Phooey on being left hanging

Subject: Thanks so much...
Date Posted: 1/16/2008 7:25 PM ET
Member Since: 9/16/2007
Posts: 28
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I guess I'm guilty of being a "bottom line" type person. If ya don't know, just say so and I'm on my way! LOL

"LIVE" is very misleading and I do apologize if anyone was offended.  It was not meant to be.

Thanks so much for all the input about the topic.

Robin F.


Date Posted: 1/16/2008 9:06 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 7,466
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On the other side of this issue.  I had someone ask for help this afternoon at about 330 this afternoon.  I was just getting ready to log off because I was starting dinner and starting homework with my son.  I had a couple of questions for the person and sent the questions back to her within 10 minutes.  I came back every few minutes until 5 before I gave up and concentrated on dinner and the kids.  It is now 9pm and they still haven't sent a reply.