Dealing with faults in your telephone system

by Oftel

If your office telephone system develops a fault there are several steps you can take to minimise the disruption to your business.

Before problems start

If you use different providers for different telecoms services, make sure you have a clear record of which provider supplies which service, as this will save you time and money when reporting problems.

Clarify your current level of service with your providers and assess whether this is adequate for your needs.

Do you have 24-hour cover? If not, do you need this level of service? Does your provider charge for sending out engineers? What are your providers' fault resolution targets and how often do they meet them?

Find out exactly what information your providers will need when you report a problem - this may include a specific account number, circuit references or telephone numbers. Establish what their escalation procedures are. 

Reporting faults

When reporting faults try to be as exact as possible. Some initial tests may help to speed the process of repairing the fault.

The clearer the information you can provide, the quicker your supplier can fix the fault.

Many telecoms companies have a single point of contact for reporting all types of faults. However, fault desk staff are unlikely to be engineers themselves, and they need to take the relevant information and pass the fault to the correct engineers. Take a name and a reference number, and keep these easily accessible.

Remember your provider will need some time to process the fault and make initial tests, so ask when you can expect an update. Try to remain calm, as aggression or anger can confuse and aggravate the person you are speaking to, which may cause them to forget key questions or details. This may then delay your fault being resolved.

If you are still not satisfied, don't get angry - ask to speak to a manager or supervisor and have the matter escalated.

After the fault is fixed

Take time to evaluate the service provided. Are you confident the problem will not occur again? Did you feel that the way the fault was handled met your expectations?

If you have continued problems, or feel the service provided was unsatisfactory, speak to your provider. Explain your concerns and why you felt their service was inadequate. Your provider may have different categories of service, or alternatively another provider may have fault resolution procedures that are more in tune with your needs.

The Telecommunications Industry Association has a code of practice and arbitration service for resolving disputes between consumers and service providers and Ofcom (previously Oftel) has a complaints procedure which can be invoked when the service providers complaints resolution procedure has been exhausted.

Reviewed January 2011

last updated : 21/01/2011

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