Why does tech support suck?


I was listening to my favorite tech guy Leo Laporte today and he mentioned an article on Slashdot titled “Is a Bad Attitude damaging the IT profession?” It also referenced an article at It Ought To Be Simple.

After reading those articles I wanted to write this article.

Tech Support reps don’t always suck but it seems like they do all the time. Even myself when I can never suck because it is MY customer I still have those moments that I don’t want to deal with. Saturday was one of those days but I still needed to help but I think I was a bit snippy with my customer and I will be calling her monday to appologize for my rudeness.

I will also admit that years ago I was a BOFH. What does that mean? BOFH stands for Bastard Operator From Hell. The Barstard is what he is named for how he treats his users or as he might call them ‘l’users. Go here to read the origina series from the Bastard.

Why does tech support suck?

Answer 1:?MONEY. Why money? Because say Dell sells you a computer and it costs you 1500 bucks. Lets say Dell’s cost is 1100 bucks and their profit is 400 bucks. Now you have your nice shiney new laptop and 3 months later a software bug craps out Windows. Now they need to help because the you think they should help you fix the problem even though it might not be their fault.

To help you they have to employ tech support guys and lets say they hire someone in the US and after he is paid his hourly wage and then all the other costs that go to maintaining an employee their cost for this employee is 40 per hour.

When Dell starts helping you fix your problem their goal is to help you fix your problem in the quickest way so they can still maintain a profit on your purchase. In other words lets find the quickest solution to your problem and get you off the phone so it keeps our (Dell’s) cost down and our (Dell’s) profit up. From a business perspective you cannot blame them at all. At least I can’t.

Answer 2: Money also. The guy on the other end of the phone now gets paid peanuts because wages are lower and he / she is located in India and so his incentive to keep the customer happy nothing. If he gets fired he can go to another tech support vendor and get another job.

Answer 3: Lots of IT workers have bad attitudes. Their bad attitudes come from usually dealing with the mundane of problems. Example: My printer doesn’t print. Then when they finally find the problem its because the printer is out of Ink. Arrrggghh. 🙂

Answer 4: Computers are infinitely complex. Yes even though it is our (IT people) job to know almost everything we cannot anticipate every possible combination of hardware and software installed in your machine to be able to fix the problem in 5 minutes. That is we start from the beginning with each customer to understand first what your configuration is comprised of.

Answer 5: We get treated like crap a lot. Users beat us up because someone other tech has given them the run around and now they want to dish out their verbal abuse on the next tech.

Answer 6: Yes IT Pro’s do expect the caller to have a reasonable understanding of how to OPERATE their computer. This doesn’t mean you need to know exactly how it works but we expect you to know the difference between a right click and a left click. And when we say to right click on so-n-so and then you say “double click” we get frustrated and wonder if talking to a wall would get us a better response since we know now that you can’t listen and you can’t tell your right from your left. It is 2007 now and a basic understanding of the operation of the mouse is almost expected.

Anyways. This post is sort of a Rant and it is also an apology to my customer if she reads this post. Becky H. I apologize if I did not treat you well on Saturday and I will contact you this week or see on Thursday at the office.

How do you avoid bad tech support. The best answer is Money. But it is not the only answer. I have met tech people that charge more than I do and they still have a bad attitude. But it still comes to cost. If you call the manufacture or the seller of the software they want to get your problem solved as quickly as possible to keep their costs down.

Your best tech support will come from the Independent Firm who has your interests at the top of their list because you are paying them hourly for the work you are requesting. If you are not happy they either will not be called again or the customer will tell their friends that you (IT guy) suck and to not use you.

I will say the past 2 years of growing the Realtor side of my support business has been the greatest time for me. Of the Realtors I have met everyone has been a joy to work with? Why? Because they understand the need to use their computer and they actually are willing to pay for quality tech support.

Leave a comment and tell me your horror story.

Loren Nason
Future of Real Estate Technology

1 Comment

  1. avmf8 on October 30, 2008 at 4:39 am

    I have horror stories on the other end of the spectrum. I do know how to operate my computer and it seems many times I have more knowledge about computers then they do.

    For example I will use technical computer terms and have the tech support guy not have a clue what I was saying. But upon talking to say a computer technician the ones you pay to repair them I am told that I do in fact know my way around computers.

    Every time there is an issue I always here that there is something wrong with my computer or I am doing something wrong.

    To this day not once have I ever been helped from tech support unless it is something that is on there end such as server problems with my ISP. Or other various problems that cannot be fixed on my end.

    Also lets not forget the language barrier. Every person I talk to is from you guessed it India. So even if the guy knows his stuff if I cannot under stand what he is saying then he is still as helpful as somone who knows nothing.

    But the worst and most usless is email support. Say the question is my printer will not print? Well I can describe the issue perfectls say I have tried the most recent drivers and have checked and replaced any ink tanks needed to be replaces. I give a directx diag file showing all the important info about my computer.

    I get a response and guess what a human being never read it. I know since I will be asked to do everything I had said I did including sending then a Direct X diag that they seem to not want to read.

    It takes about 3 emails to get a living breathing human to actually answer you and then you have to describe the whole issue again.

    I have yelled at tech support but not without being provoked. By that I mean for instance they tell me to redo steps already done just to humor them. Or they something just so stupid I can’t help but yell at them.

    Here is an example once they told me to unistall my network card and then download the newer driver. There is just one problem if I do that then my internet will not work and I will be unable to get the new drivers. So I tell the guy that and he says that I am being uncooperative when what he is telling me to do I know for a fact will make the problem worse.

    In the end it turned out that my internet was working poorly do to there being a manufacturer defect with the network card. I have many more detailed examples but if I were to give even a few of them I would end up with a novel and if I am going to do that I will save it for my blog.

Leave a Comment