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PC Call Centers Garner Lowest Satisfaction Score 223

Lucas123 writes "The University of Michigan took its first American Customer Satisfaction survey and found that of six industries measured for the Customers' Call Center Satisfaction Index, the PC industry received the lowest score, according to a Computerworld story. 'According to the survey, nearly 73% of the people who have bad experiences with their PC companies' call centers said they will consider purchasing their next PCs from another company, while 85% of customers who had their problems resolved by calling a PC call center said they would continue doing business with the company. Other calls centers included in the survey included banking, cell phone service, cable and satellite television, and insurance.'"
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PC Call Centers Garner Lowest Satisfaction Score

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  • Profit! (Score:5, Funny)

    by slapout ( 93640 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @05:16PM (#19511969)

    1. Start computer company
    2. Have good tech support
    3. Profit!!!

    Wait, somethings not right ...
    • Re:Profit! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday June 14, 2007 @05:23PM (#19512073) Homepage Journal
      That a great start, but then.

      1)want to make more money
      2) cut back on call center
      3) profit!....this quarter.
      • don't forget:

        4) lose customer loyalty
        5) lose market share
        6) cash in multi-million dollar golden parachute... aka Profit!
      • Followed immediately by

        1. Turn company into a public company (corporation for you US guys).
        2. Fire half your workforce.
        3. Profit due to increased stock value.
    • Re:Profit! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by KillerCow ( 213458 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @05:33PM (#19512227)
      The problem is that the margins in the PC industry are razor thin, and with the number of people needed to man those phones, they have to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

      Retail customers aren't willing to pay for quality tech support. [Corporates are though.]

      Even if they were able to pay them more (which they aren't), you aren't going to get good people who know what they are doing to sit on a phone all day every day dealing with angry/frustrated customers. No one ever calls tech support to tell them how happy they are with their purchase. I was a tech for a year, and it was horrible. You only get angry/upset people talking to you, and most of the problems can be resolved by following a script.

      Add to this the PHBs who measure your performance based on average call times (not in actually resolving issues) and you get yourself micro-managed into mediocrity. Good people don't like being told to do a shitty job, and they will leave.

      If you've got the skills to be a good tech, you can make more money doing a job that is more satisfying somewhere else.
      • by sterno ( 16320 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @06:28PM (#19512941) Homepage
        The reality is that PC support is inherently more complex. There are more moving parts in a PC. The end user has far more ability to alter the proper operation of the system but changing software and components. There's a hell of a lot more that can go wrong in a PC, it's much harder to diagnose, and that is why customer satisfaction is low.

        When was the last time you installed more memory on your cable box, or upgraded the operating system? Cell phones are getting more complex, but by and large they are self contained systems that don't get modified much either. I'm sure that customer satisfaction will decline, the more phones become like PC's.

        It's just the nature of the beast.
      • Good people don't like being told to do a shitty job, and they will leave.

        Amen to that! I'm getting ready to leave my current gig for just that reason! There's only so many times you can be directed to do sub-par work before you start looking for something else.
      • Re:Profit! (Score:4, Informative)

        by unlametheweak ( 1102159 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @07:53PM (#19513719)
        My experiences as a techie for some major Fortune 500 companies:

        - MOST problems cannot be solved by following a script
        - Also, company knowledge bases (for the tech's) are usually outdated, inaccurate and poorly designed
        - People ARE willing to pay for tech support
                - When I did support for M$, customers of brand name computers with OEM operating systems would call in and ask for support because they couldn't get their problems solved through the OEM call centres (M$ customer service will just charge them of course)
        - Customers are rarely angry unless you feed them with bullshit, keep transferring them, constantly put them on hold, etc. If you do like me and actually treat a customer like a decent human being instead of getting them off the phone as soon as possible, then you will probably not get promoted, but you will have a feeling of personal satisfaction that you actually bothered to help the customer solve their problem

        - most call centres have time limits for tech calls, which means techs are pressured to get people off the phone as soon as possible instead of giving them any type of quality support

        - training is often limited to 2 to 3 weeks for a specific product, with much of the training time dedicated to human resources type training, i.e. how to talk to the customer to make them feel like you are helping them, instead of actually giving the techs the technical knowledge to actually solve their problems

        - techs often make things up. Yes I've experienced this as a customer and have seen other techs do this. If people don't know the answer, they will just make-up there own answer just so they don't have to deal with the problem (having the customer do something that takes a long time can help to get the customer of the phone, like doing a chkdsk)

        - With one company that I was with (that I quit in disgust), a customer told me that he noticed what seemed to be a manufacturers defect in the specific brand of computer. I went to my supervisor and he said this is not true. I asked my supervisor how he knew this since I never even told him the model number. He said "good point, I'll check", about 30 seconds later he said he checked and said there was no default with the product.

        - Turnover rate is high in this business. So keeping experienced techs isn't so much an issue as keeping within the short term quarterly profit margin targets

        Believe me I could write a whole book about my experiences, but I think you get my point. The only thing that seems to be saving any one company from bankruptcy through customer abandonment is that all companies seem to be colluding with the lie (or exaggeration at least) that they are providing technical support.

        Let's face it, if a customer had a choice of saving their computer data or just getting their computer to work properly, they will pay. Often companies with out-of-warranty customers charge $2.00 per minute, often for the same poor technical support. It is a rip-off and a cash grab for the companies involved.
      • by metlin ( 258108 )

        The problem is that the margins in the PC industry are razor thin, and with the number of people needed to man those phones, they have to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

        Retail customers aren't willing to pay for quality tech support. [Corporates are though.]

        Thank you. That is the heart of the problem. How many of the people who complain that they have a problem with call-centers cutting down costs would be willing to pay to get support? And how many would be willing to pay a higher price for quality?

        I mea

        • I'd actually prefer an IVR system, assuming it was well-designed and helpful. Unfortunately such a thing does not exist and never will.
      • Tech support is usually outsourced. The exact service you, as a customer of a manufacturer, is going to get is exactly what is in the contract between the outsourcing partner and the manufacturer - it'll be defined down to the tiniest level such as average speed of answer, % of fix on first call, etc. Best case scenario is you get the level of service in the contract - you never get better as OSP's are in business to make money just like the manufacturers are.
        If you're getting crappy service it's because
    • 2. Have good tech support

      The problem is that good tech support is costly. In order to provide it, you need to pass the cost onto the customer. Customers will compare your computer to a Dell and purchase the Dell for its mildly lower cost.

      FWIW, I've always thought it would be neat to find ways of improving computer packages up front rather than relying on tech support calls. For example, POD (Print On Demand) is getting advanced enough to where you could literally print a custom manual for each computer that

      • Re:Profit! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by EggyToast ( 858951 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @05:48PM (#19512441) Homepage
        That's the thing -- people DO read manuals if they're good manuals. if they flip through it and it's just page after page of "Thank you for purchasing one of our products" with a list of all possible specs and languages, they're going to assume it's crap.

        If it was actually relevant to their computer and covered the basics, they would know it was a reference. Sadly, good documentation (and I mean good, not just "listing everything") is usually one of the first things cut, despite the amount of money it can potentially save.
        • by Ucklak ( 755284 )
          The early Microsoft manuals actually had useful information. Now they're thick books of marketing information.
          Not a single page of how to setup an email address using Outlook Express or how to write a document with Wordpad.
        • by houghi ( 78078 )
          I have written a manual and it was pretty good. It was not to thick to be boring, yet contained all basic solutions for about 80% of the problems.

          New customers would be angry if they did not recieve the manual. Yet when they phoned in a few days later and you asked if they had recieved the manual, the answer was ALWAYS: yes, but I didn't have time to read it. I want a solution NOW.

          Me: Sure, as we explained on page 2, ....
          Problem solved in about 1 minute if not faster.

          I have spoken to other people who have w
          • I've written technical documentation on more than one occasion, and the problem with people reading it lies in the presentation, not necessarily the content.

            Make people laugh, say something absurd, but stick to the details of what you're writing. If you include a little entertainment people are more likely to keep reading. Nobody wants to pick up a manual that reads like Encyclopedia Brittanica, but most manuals are written exactly that way.
            • Exactly. I was insanely pleased when I discovered that a great deal of retail hardware comes with those big, foldout "quickstart" manuals that have big pictures, direct people how to plug things in, and uses a very straightforward method to get people going.

              Of course, they're usually complemented with the encyclopedia, which contains all of the rest of the information for actually using and maintaining their products. It doesn't help that nearly every company only includes support for their own brand o
          • Those are the people who called. What about the people who didn't call because they just read the manual? It's an unknown -- a good manual will reduce call numbers, but if you didn't have a manual, would the numbers be higher? How much?

            Lots of companies assume that since they're already paying for phone support, they might as well cut costs on the manual and let the phone people handle it. Which is dumb. For that guy who called and you pointed them to the manual, since it was already written down *a
  • by lena_10326 ( 1100441 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @05:18PM (#19511987) Homepage
    ...I don't even try. It's pointless.

    • by xero314 ( 722674 )

      When I call and hear a thick foreign accent
      I just key hitting the 1 key on my phone hoping eventually it will acknowledge and get me someone that speaks english.
    • Actually, that's when it's time to have some fun. Is your thick-accented tech support buddy from Bangalore? Put on a thick Irish brogue. Routed to Montreal? Then you're from the Outback, mate.

      Good times, good times.
    • by bizitch ( 546406 )
      you want bageldonut with that?
  • by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @05:18PM (#19511991) Journal
    I'd leave a better comment but I'm still on hold with Dell...
  • Complexity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @05:19PM (#19512007) Homepage Journal
    Wow, worse than cable service call centers? That's sad. I bet it's because of all the industries included, the PC industry has the most complex product and the most complex problems. Banking, television, insurance, and even cell phone service are all pretty straightforward. But PCs are such general purpose devices that the issues are bound to be more complex.

    Of course there's the other obvious problems of poor call center training, etc. But that just compounds the issue.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think you may have hit part of the problem there. It's hard enough to fix someone's computer problem when you have their computer in your hands, fixing it over the phone, especially when dealing with people who are, ahem, less than adept at computer use is exceedingly difficult. Combine that with the fact that many people think errors are simple on/off ordeals, "oh it's broken? hit a. problem solved" type things, and you have a very frustrating experience for both sides.
      • Yeah, but it also helps when you don't tell them to unnecessarily install GRUB, taking down all the other precautions they had set up, and locking them out of their computer. :-/
  • Rude reps. (Score:2, Insightful)

    Customer service reps located outside of the U.S. are rated lower on communication skills.

    I was once on a service call with a company's service rep and he was giving me instructions rather quickly and with a thick accent. When I asked him to repeat what he said, sometimes more than once, he became very irate and somewhat rude.

    I had to call in because because of their lame website wouldn't activate their damned product. I no longer do business with them nor will I ever.

  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @05:24PM (#19512085) Homepage
    Other calls centers included in the survey included banking, cell phone service, cable and satellite television, and insurance.'"

    Desktop computers and their attendant problems just might be more complex than:

    - What's my bank balance?

    - What are all of these calls to Bangladore doing on my cell phone bill and where is the damn ON button?

    - What channel is Bugs Bunny on?

    - Where's the lizard?

    Not like Dell tech support is on my friends list (until you get to the server folks, they've seemed decent), but we're talking about a complex system in the hands of well, just about anybody.

  • I've found that there are three types of support people who answer helpdesk calls:

    1. The guy who is clueless and couldn't care less about his job,
    2. The guy who thinks he knows everything but doesn't really have a clue, and
    3. The guy who really knows a fair amount and cares about the customer.

    #1 will be working at McDonald's next week and knows it. #2 will also be working at McDonald's next week, but doesn't see it coming. In the intervening days, he'll be posting comments on Slashdot about how everyt

    • by tazbert ( 824165 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @05:28PM (#19512149)
      No - #3 will have a short stay at his company, moving on when it becomes obvious that all his management chain cares about is his average handle time, not the quality of his support.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kentmartin ( 244833 )
      [i]#3 will have a long, successful stay at his company, which will reap the rewards of his hard work.[/i]

      Will the fairies on his planet help him? Your idea of reaping the rewards gives us all the warm fuzzies, but such ideals sadly belong to the generation before us.

      Seriously, part of the problem is it is no longer seen as cost effective to hold onto good employees. Take the UK, sometimes people can wheedle(sp?) an extra couple of grand from their employer every year or 3, but, a 10 grand pay rise doesn't
      • by toddbu ( 748790 )

        Will the fairies on his planet help him? Your idea of reaping the rewards gives us all the warm fuzzies, but such ideals sadly belong to the generation before us.

        If you had read the summary, it said "... 85% of customers who had their problems resolved by calling a PC call center said they would continue doing business with the company." I agree that many managers may not realize that these numbers exist, but your comment about ideals belonging to the generation before us is clearly untrue.

        • you think any of that repeat business money will go to a pay rise for the techsupport guy on phone? I think it will go for a bonus to the very PHB who was trying to make techsupport guy answer calls faster with no regard to quality. Meanwhile techsupport guy, stays on minimum wage.
        • In my experiences as a techie, the people I've seen get promoted and stay with the company are:

          - People who get the customer off the phone the fastest without helping them:
          By transferring calls, telling customers to re-installing their OS, etc
          - People who go out to the local bar drinking with management (this is not an exaggeration)
          - People who just plain get over-friendly with management (I'd be too embarrassed myself to try such obvious ass-kissing)
          - People who just don't have the skills to find another j
      • Seriously, part of the problem is it is no longer seen as cost effective to hold onto good employees. Take the UK, sometimes people can wheedle(sp?) an extra couple of grand from their employer every year or 3, but, a 10 grand pay rise doesn't even raise an eyebrow when someone changes company.

        This has been true in tech in the USA at least as long as I've been in it (some twelve years now or so.) Getting a raise is like pulling teeth unless you are a) a big ass-kisser and b) very lucky. Not or, but and. Bu

    • by asphaltjesus ( 978804 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @05:38PM (#19512299)
      When you become a part of the average big soul-sucking support center, what passes as productivity is **precisely** tracked.

      Read the following carefully.

      -No caring.
      -Know nothing. They provide scripts. Don't _ever_ deviate from the scripts.

      If you are with me so far, read on carefully.

      Call center productivity is *NEVER* measured by customer satisfaction. It is measured as calls per unit of time. Period.

      Take a moment to comprehend the implications of the previous statement before moving on.

      If you meet/exceed the calls per hour (or whatever) then another component of your productivity is the number of parts shipped. More parts bad, less parts gets you an atta-boy from your manager and maybe even a shiny nickel.

      Finally, a call center is most profitable when there is a queue. Fewer support people processing more calls per hour = profit & productivity.
      • Bingo!

        I worked phone support for a financial firm (via a contracted company) one summer as temp work. They would get mad at me if I was too quick in helping customers because the call had to be a minimum time length for them to bill the firm. So I had to purposefully slow down and delay the customer.
        • Yea, this could be solved by your employer having a statement in the contract that "Each support call will have a 10 minute duration, minimum" or some similar legalese. Like if AT&T has to go onsite...sure, they're there 15 minutes, but they bill you 4 hours minimum or something insane...
      • Call center productivity is *NEVER* measured by customer satisfaction

        only if the call center sucks (and most do).

        i know. my day job is ISP tech support (Sasktel). average call times are tracked, though pretty much for trivia purposes.

        our main stat is the resolve rate. basically, when you solve a problem and close the case, does the customer call back about the same problem within 3 days? if they do, it evidently wasn't fixed and you missed something or made a faulty assumption or something else. we sho
      • Call center productivity is *NEVER* measured by customer satisfaction. It is measured as calls per unit of time. Period.

        As someone who likes my units to have snazzy names, I propose that "Calls per unit time" be forthwith referred to as a "Dell".
    • Wrong (Score:5, Informative)

      by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @05:38PM (#19512309) Journal
      2 stays because management believes that the person has a clue. And if 1 has a nice enough personality, they will stay as well. 3 will normally move on.
    • by MoneyT ( 548795 )
      You've never been number 3 have you? Let me tell you how that works. You have management down your back because you're taking up a lot of time with each customer (good quality tech support takes time) and making more work for other people, plus you're not getting through enough people and so the company is spending more on each person who you're helping.

      As if that wasn't bad enough, every other customer starts every conversation with you bitching about how long they had to wait for service (remember good qu
    • I do not know about callcenters you have seen but having worked in cellphone customer service, tech support, and now insurance sales. What i've seen is the quality requirements of most HR departments depends entirely on the possibilities of liability.

      The company i worked with for celphone customer service did NOT want #3's. #3's lead to long handling times, people noticing the spin on marketing, and setups that are efficient (read: low margin). The #1's are perfect so long as they meet statistics requiremen
    • Sorry but you obviously havent been anywhere near a real call center. Number 3 would be constantly on the managers shit list and probably canned after a couple weeks for lack of productivity (number of calls matter much more than number of happy customers). Number 1 will keep a job as long as he doesnt deviate from he script. Number 2 will become management.
    • Erh... no. #3 will be replaced by outsourcing to India or China in a few weeks, and if he can do more than answer support calls, he'll move up in the corp chain, else he'll be joining his coworkers.
  • by BlueMikey ( 1112869 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @05:27PM (#19512135)
    I had a friend who once worked at an AOL call center in the Mac division. Real transcript: AOL: "What type of Mac do you have?" Caller: "Uh...tangerine?" Maybe the callers think the service is so shitty because they don't know that the problem is fixed or because they can't provide good enough information to the agent to get it fixed. I've had 10 times the problems with cable company call centers than I have with any other, including PC manufacturers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mattintosh ( 758112 )
      "Tangerine" tells a good Mac tech exactly what type of Mac that user has. It's a "tangerine" iMac with a 266 or 333MHz G3 processor (PPC750, IBM-style, with copper tracing instead of aluminum), between 64 (most likely) and 256 (max) MB of RAM (PC66 168-pin DIMM), a 24x CD-ROM drive, a 4 or 6 GB HDD (ATA/33), 10/100 Ethernet, an ATI Rage Pro LT 8MB video accelerator, and a 17" CRT screen.

      But your point stands for other, less-distinctive types of hardware.
  • Call centers are cost centers. Support is part of the purchase cost and with razor thin margins, you can only get bottom support.
    Compound the low pay with the high technical expectations and you get a recipe for a disaster. Doing it over the phone makes it even worse.

    In summary, PCs are complex, the customers are for the most part not very good with it to start with, problems can be very complex, interface is so rich that it is difficult to describe over the phone and tech level needs to be high to diagnose
  • by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @05:30PM (#19512175)
    As anyone who's done any kind of support knows, a significant chunk of troubleshooting/support depends on the customer's ability to follow directions. When the support person says "I need you to click here and do this. Now read to me EXACTLY what the window that opens up says," they expect the person to do that. It doesn't help when the person on the other end does something else then says "It's not opening a window that says anything" or they say "It's giving me an error message" [duh, that was the point!] rather than "It says 'Program terminated. Error code: PEBKAC'". Yes, some companies have abysmal support. But sometimes the people asking for support don't help the problem either.
    • by Rodness ( 168429 ) *

      I literally received this email from one of my users yesterday, from his home address since he was having a problem accessing the corporate external web mail server:

      The e-mail has be dying the last couple of days and can't send e-mail about the e-mail
      I was so overwhelmed with the articulate and detailed description of the problem that I didn't know what to check first. (/sarcasm)
  • nearly 73% of the people who have bad experiences

    Possiby those people may not be very good with computers & would have had problems with any helpdesk.

    Too many companies treat call centers as cost centers rather than seeing them as an opportunity to solidify the customer relationship, resulting in increased loyalty and retention

    Also how many computer users need to ring heldesks ? Might not more bad, cranky & mad users ring the desks ? I'm not convinced that helpdesk callers are repesentative of users.

  • I did some work inbound call sales work (that means I didn't call people, they called us) and signed them up for PeoplePC... Wow... eventually, I quit, and when I was asked why, I told my boss's boss that $8.50 an hour wasn't worth my time, when he asked why, I said I have a bachelor's degree. Then the idiot had the nerve to say "Well, I have a bachelor's degree, too!" It's like... uh, but you don't earn $8.50 an hour now do you?

    Now I work for a large software company and probably make 2 or 3 times his s
  • by burnttoy ( 754394 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @05:40PM (#19512329) Homepage Journal
    Banking, insurance even cable can be sorted out over the phone (unless your cable box has HCF'd). If a PC goes wrong then phone support is never going to be useful unless resetting does actually fix things. Even navigating your way through to a potentially incorrect setting is incredibly hard over the phone. Users don't listen properly, get frustrated and confused when they see the control panel for the first time if the machine is actually dead then it'll need to be RMA'd.

    Both myself and the bank, cable company, insurance firm can get their hands on my account and/or their hardware (f'nar f'nar) and fix things if broken.

    Many times I've tried to help people with their computers over the phone but when the problem is "I hit the power button and nothing happens" there's precious little I can do (other than get them to check connections) unless I can actually get there with a screwdriver.

    Much as I hate computer as car analogues I wouldn't phone BMW and ask them to help me fix my Mini's engine over the phone! It just wouldn't work especially as I, like the poor broken computer users, I am no mechanic.

    Ah well. My Mum bought a (pretty crap) PC a few years back but she deliberately bought it from a shop about 5 miles away. If it blows up instead of having to post the thing back or arrange pick up a bloke comes out with a screwdriver set and some spares. She paid more for that service but it was invaluable when lightning fried the modem.
  • In a great number of cases...
  • This reminds me of the episode of The Office (U.S.) where Dwight and Jim go on a sales call. Jim is working on making the sale while Dwight calls up the support line for their competitor and lands in an automated system. Meanwhile Jim calls up Dunder-Mifflin and gets Pam immediately.

    Of course this is just fiction and Dunder-Mifflin is quite the screwed up company (why we love it so much) but they have one thing right - human contact on the phones.
    • by bhmit1 ( 2270 )

      they have one thing right - human contact on the phones.
      And they have one thing wrong, they can't compete on price because of the high overhead. If independent organizations ranked computers based on support, quality, etc, and placed that rank right next to the price tag, things might be different. But until then, the uneducated consumer will buy based on the one piece of data they have there.
  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @05:47PM (#19512429) Journal
    Computers are becoming like automobiles in terms of the cost and effort to maintain and fix. People want instant solutions on the cheap, which is unrealistic. The problem is that cars cost dozens of thousands of dollars such that people *expect* service to expensive. The retail price of PC's might be much lower than a car, but the maintenance and repair cost is not. If PC's would stop changing, then they would settle and become a commodity to fix or replace; but change pace prevents that. (MS-Windows being goofy doesn't help.) If people knew the real costs, they'd probably buy a Mac.
  • The clustering of scores for different industries sound pretty tight with a range of 64-77. I dug around just a little, but didn't find any descriptives. Anyone able to figure out what the confidence intervals are? I'm a little skeptical about there being a real difference between some of these ratings.
  • It would be unfortunate to lay all of the blame for this on the corporations providing the support. When you combine an incredibly complex piece of machinery such as a computer and it's OS with a customer base that refuses to pay extra for support, this is what happens. The field of questions that a general PC tech support rep is expected to answer is insanely broad. You can't pay the bare minimum for tech-support staff and expect them to be able to field these questions with any competancy, and scriptin
  • by gilesjuk ( 604902 ) <<giles.jones> <at> <>> on Thursday June 14, 2007 @06:03PM (#19512627)
    PCs have so many problems, so many different causes of problems. Hardware can cause crashes and problems, software can cause crashes and problems.

    Before the Internet you wouldn't have so many different patch levels.

    PC Tech support is hard, no mistake.
  • reason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blhack ( 921171 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @06:03PM (#19512635)
    This is because computer tech support is actually a pretty specialized skill. It isn't something like calling visa where they have a flowchart of 5 problems in front of them.

    Unfortunately, the people running the call centers don't realize this. They give their employees the same sort of flow charts that are given in "non-specialized" fields.

    There are people out there with the skills required to to these jobs very very well. Some companies, like intermec (mobile computer manufacturer), zebra (industrial printer manufacturer), or CLI (provider of dumb terminals for As/400 systems) hire very very good people. I have even gotten the same person on multiple calls who recognized me "Hey RYAN! did you get that battery charger replacement i sent you?"

    Unfortunately, it hurts the bottom line to pay skilled labor, so the end user ends up suffering.
    • by homer_s ( 799572 )
      Unfortunately, it hurts the bottom line to pay skilled labor,

      No, paying more to an employee will increase the cost of the computer; which means the consumer will not purchase it. *That* is why you don't see good customer support.

      I have yet to see someone say "I bought an XYZ computer because of their excellent customer support" - when price is all a consumer cares about, companies naturally cut customer service costs.
      • Companies should just say up-front that there is no free customer support. It should not be included in the price of the PC. They shouldn't IMHO lie to customers by saying they get free technical support when instead they will really only be dealing with a customer service representative who only has minimal support skills, product knowledge, and training.

        Customers will be more satisfied to pay for support when they really need it, rather than getting the run-around and negative experiences from customer se
        • by ewhenn ( 647989 )
          Customers will be more satisfied to pay for support when they really need it, rather than getting the run-around and negative experiences from customer service representatives.


          This is only partially true. Say I buy a PC from Dell, two months later the memory dies (you tested via memtest86+ to confirm this). You call in to Dell and tell them taht you have bad RAM and it needs to be replaces. The cust service rep tells you to call support at 1.99 a min. So, you call their support and
      • by blhack ( 921171 )

        No, paying more to an employee will increase the cost of the computer; which means the consumer will not purchase it. *That* is why you don't see good customer support.

        What grade are you in?
        Say you are selling computers for $500 a piece. You sell 10 computers. This means that you have $5000 gross. If you need to spend $1000 on tech support, you have $1000 material costs, you have spent $1000 on payroll, and you have spent $1000 renting your building. You have netted $1000. If you decide to upgrade your tech support, and now you are spending $1500 on tech support, you are now netting $500. Losing that $500 is referred to as "hurting the bottom line" because when you

  • I worked in a call center that supported PC's and other electronic gadgets for a office supply store chain. I worked for an outsourcing call center. I switched from supporting a cell phone carrier which sucked major ass. The PC support side was a little better because if the EU (end user/customer) didn't want to co-operate I didn't have to help them. I know why most customers were unsatisfied because the majority of solutions with PC's were doing a system restore. This usually meant losing all those family
  • I would have to say that the airlines and online travel agencies are far worse than any of the industries mentioned here. Most of the people in the India (etc.) based call centers have never been on a trip by plane, and they simply don't understand the realities of travel.
  • Here is the difference between computer tech support and banking, cell phone service, cable and satellite television, and insurance support. When people are dealing with their computers, they suddenly become imbeciles. It's like some sort of magic curse that is placed upon them. Tech support is extremely nerve grating... because the customers are idiots. I did phone tech support for an ISP for a year... worst job I ever had. And I was the one that repeat call-ins requested because I was the nicest to t
  • How about books []? [grin] :)
  • You know, I have a few experiences along this line, so I feel the pain of helpdesk helpers who've had to deal with customers who never even had a ticket on the clue train. Instead of sharing that with you, though, let me share this....

    When one of my grateful customers expresses how they wish they knew stuff about computers too, my standard response is "oh, but I wish I could [do whatever the customer does] like you do."

    Odd thing... when I say it it's usually true. I wish I had the time to learn more in d

  • Well, I must say, in defense of some of those call centers (not ALL of them are bad), seriously, what the fuck are they supposed to do when the customers don't even understand what "click" or "menu" means. Or when they just don't "get" the most fundamental concepts of working with a computer... It's pretty sad when you realize that the customer doesn't even know what an icon is, or what a window is, or that they can't even distinguish between the left and right mouse buttons.

    All that happens is that the cal
  • There are 2 things working against him and against neither he can win.

    The first is the scripted dialog he has to go through. Usually, when you're working in support (1st and often 2nd level too), you have a FOTM-script to work through. You walk your caller through the steps and if the issue isn't resolved, pump him up into the next level. That's it. No leeway, no chance to deviate. Or rather, you better don't if you "enjoy" your minimum wage job.

    This, in turn, does dissatisfy your customer, especially if th
  • First off they have this robotic system called 'Max' who's a ripoff from central casting for a cool dude selling breakfast cereal. Next, you HAVE TO go through their automated fix steps NO MATTER WHAT. Step by step, even if you're calling back to check on the status of a prior incident. You HAVE TO start from zero every damn time. When you finally get to the point where you can speak to a person you get 'Sandra' or Michael aka Mishwaneth or Rajiv.

    Did I mention that all the automated steps are voice response

We gave you an atomic bomb, what do you want, mermaids? -- I. I. Rabi to the Atomic Energy Commission