The Norman Transcript

Business

September 7, 2013

Why is customer support so bad?

NORMAN — I work on computers for a living and I love my job. I enjoy taking a customer’s computer and turning it into something they can actually enjoy, instead of being mad at it all of the time.

One of the biggest parts of my job is taking complicated and convoluted computer concepts and explaining them in ways that non-technical people can understand. Doing it over the phone is challenging, but doable. The main ingredients for successful phone support are respect for the customer’s intelligence and a willingness to explore someone’s frame of reference.

It is almost universally accepted that over-the-phone tech support is abysmally bad. I consider it an industry-wide disaster. Just about everyone who’s used technology for any length of time has some sort of a tech support horror story to tell, myself included. I believe the main reason for this sad state of affairs is a lack of respect for the customer.

During my career, I’ve been victimized by most every computer-related tech support department that exists. Of course, not every experience has been bad. However, too many of my tech support experiences have been, at the very least, inexcusably irritating and frustrating. Why giant global companies think it’s acceptable to insult their customers is beyond me. I’ll use my recent tech support experience with Hewlett-Packard as an example.

The first insult after calling HP came by being forced to talk to someone whose foreign accent was so thick that I could barely understand what they were saying. This is a common tech support complaint and the reason for it is simple: companies are too cheap to really care about customer service, regarding customer support as a money-losing department. Therefore, they outsource their service departments to giant, cheap call center conglomerates located in foreign countries, most notably, India. The truth is, when you call a customer service number, you are usually not talking to someone who actually works for the company in question.

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