Technical Support that raises my hackles

Occasionally, I get in surreal exchanges with Technical Support people and it is all I can do to keep my composure. The images accompanying this article have nothing to do with the companies I spoke to, but they illustrate ways in which hard work does not serve customer needs.

There seem to be two main problem areas in dealing with Technical Support:

One is where the rep is on full automatic. You state the problem concisely and he responds, "So, what is the problem?"

Every piece of data you give him goes through some sort of filter and comes out meaningless to him so he paraphrases what you say.

Using short words and very simple sentences, you can eventually coax the rep to give you useful information, but the experience is not one you wish to repeat.

You usually end up regaling friends with the more absurd parts of the conversation until they are sick of it.

EarthraceboatThe other area is far more frustrating. You engage in conversation with a customer service rep who seems fairly knowledgeable and you describe your problem in detail and he says,  "I’m having a hard time seeing what the problem is.  Is there something specific you would like me to look at?"

The problem here is that the rep is thinking like a designer, not like a customer.

The problem I was dealing with today was that a company’s software creates images that are all the same outside dimensions, even if the actual objects are vastly different in size. I have to resize the images I send clients to show how different choices affect the appearance of the final product.

The technical rep could not see why this was necessary. He could not adopt a customer”s viewpoint.

Can you image an auto manufacturer showing product image comparisons where their sport cars were the same size as their heavy duty trucks? That’s what this software package is currently doing. It needs to be modified to convey a better idea of what it is producing.

Designers making life easier for designers is not the way to win customer loyalty. Understanding customer needs is critical to survival in a competitive marketplace.

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0 Responses to Technical Support that raises my hackles

  1. Mouse says:

    Ouch! Ok, have to respond, being an ex-Technical Support Person…
    IN MY DAY it went like this:
    1. Call customer and ask him to describe problem in detail
    2. Ask about environment/what he’s doing/has it ever worked/if so what changed etc etc etc
    3. Repeat, summarise what’s been said
    4. Quick search on d/b for known issues if so provide, get tested, confirmed, goodnight
    5. If not request diqgnostics, give help if necessary, confirm with an e-mail
    etc etc
    Should I go on? It was a long process and only ended when we were both happy and after I had sent extra goodies like some new fixes, a little advice on using the product etc etc
    There are two types of technical support, there are those who foloow a script because they don’t know their product/technology/stuff and there are those who are hot stuff and who love their work and have a real desire to see it all working well and the customer a happy chappy
    Damn miss it!

  2. Being an ex-Technical Support person myself (MCBA, Inc) I agree with your attitude and your support process completely.

    We produced Accounting, Distribution and Manufacturing software that ran on many different computer platforms with unique operating systems…and we licensed the source code to our customers.

    I know how frustrated customers can get, especially when they have not put in necessary upgrades for many months.

    Supporting software on that many platforms meant that our customers often knew more about their systems than we did. Coaching my people to use good communication skills was the only solution to staying on top of an ever expanding problem.

    You obviously had the same customer-centric attitude that our people did. Your customers probably loved you, but management may have complained that you spent too much time on your calls.

    As far as the “bean counters” were concerned, your calls handled numbers were probably too low and your cost per call were too high. On the other hand, you handled your customers to their complete satisfaction.

    Caring about customers makes technical support work quite rewarding.

    I am sure that your customers miss you. 🙂

    I have the highest regards to all who have fought in the same trenches. My personal opinion is that technological advances are carried on the backs of competent support people! Unsung heroes, every one of them!

  3. Mouse says:

    I KNEW you must be a kindred spirit David!

    But no, I took more calls than the rest of the team put together and found the time to do extra work to support the sales team and worked proactively to ensure that known issues didn’t hit my customers and then I spent my spare time improving my product knowledge and expertise with z/OS and CICS
    But then I WAS in love with my job and really enjoyed the work and the customers were all sweeties so…

  4. As a support agent you must know even the simplest part of your product or company in order for you to be ready for any question regarding with your company and products.

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