Ich bin ein Berliner!
Okay, so I'm not exactly a Berliner--for that matter, neither am I a jelly donut--but I am in the German capital this week covering a conference--more than seven years since I last visited the country.
Germany has always been one of my favorite European nations, partly because I've got friends here and partly because I'm kinda fond of the Germans.
And what's there not to like? They love their beer... Germans are the world's second biggest consumers of beer, gulping down an average 119 liters per year, per person. And they love their sausages... Over 1,500 types of sausage are produced in Germany.
They also love their dogs... Both hotels I stayed in, including The Westin Grand, are more than willing to accommodate canine guests.
Most of all, Germans are famously efficient, dependable, organized...and, this one's my favorite, they're also known for being direct. During my stay at The Westin Grand, for example, I was up working at six in the morning when I lost my Internet connection.
Slightly peeved, particularly because I needed to send a couple of stories across, I picked up the phone and got more peeved when I couldn't find the frontdesk number. So I hit the first button on the speed-dial and a guy answered. I rattled off about how I'd paid for a 24-hour service package, and asked why I'd lost my connection when my time wasn't up yet.
After a brief silence, the guy on the other line said: "I can't help you, ma'am…I'm only the porter." Who says the Germans don't have a sense of humor?
After noting that the IT engineers may not be awake at that time to attend to me--did I mention Germans were direct, too--the, erm, "helpless" porter then suggested I try the frontdesk and transferred my call over.
The frontdesk operator promptly instructed me to call the 24-hour helpdesk number printed on a tag…attached to the network cable on my table--duh, stupid me. I called the IT helpdesk, and the guy was able to resolve the problem fairly quickly.
All three Germans I spoke with handled my call with one common trait: no frills. There were no forced chirpiness, no artificial politeness, no idle chitchat. It was a refreshing change in treatment that I would have no problem getting used to.
Don't get me wrong, they weren't at all rude. They simply did exactly what I needed them to do--they fixed my problem in the shortest time possible, without the frills, bells and whistles. If the IT engineer didn't know how to fix the problem, I have no doubt he would have told me so over the phone, plainly, instead of suggesting I uninstall and reinstall my software.
And that's what I think all IT helpdesks should be: German.