The Norman Transcript


September 7, 2013

Why is customer support so bad?



The second insult was requiring me to divulge personal information before being able to ask my question. Even though I had an order number that could have been looked up for speedy help, my name, address, phone number and email address were all demanded before allowing me to ask my simple question; “Where’s the software that I ordered two weeks ago?”

The third insult was connecting me to someone that didn’t actually know what they were talking about. Bear in mind that when you call tech support, the first person you talk to usually only knows one thing: how to read from a chart. This is known as “Tier One” support. On the walls of their cubicle are two charts: first, a list of most common complaints, and second, a list of most common solutions. That’s all they know, and they are required to run you through a mind-numbing gauntlet of scripted questions and answers before allowing you into the tech support “Holy of Holies:” Tier Two support, where somebody might actually know something.

By this time, I was already 45 minutes into my phone call when insult number four came: I learned that I had been forwarded to the wrong department and should have been talking to a different department, all along. This meant that I had to give out all of my personal information to yet another person (even though I had been given a time-saving “case number”) and listen to another list of mind-numbing Tier One-style questions, all delivered by someone who had an even more confusing accent than the first.

Then came insult number five: I needed to be connected to yet another, different department, where I was assured I would get my answer. More time passed as I sat on hold, and, a full two hours into the call, another voice came on the phone. This time, though, I almost fell out of my chair in disbelief: it was an American voice, a voice belonging to someone for whom English was clearly their first language. I explained my situation and, within five minutes, all of my concerns had been competently addressed. As it turned out, my software order had somehow mysteriously been cancelled. Everything was cleared up, my software was promised to me by Fedex overnight and, by golly, that’s what happened.

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