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  • #2274617

    Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

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    by rlast ·

    We’re in the middle of the 4th year of the 21st century & tech support is worse then ever!
    A 2003 SSPA survey estimates that the First Call Resolution in the software publishing industry is 46%!

    Why is it so bad, still?

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    • #2718719

      Many reasons contribute

      by stress junkie ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      If I understand your question you are asking why in house tech support is poor. Then, again, if I understand your survey statement you are saying that telephone tech support of applications is poor. So, if I understand the post, you are asking two completely different questions.

      The second one is easy. All you have to do is look around this site for the technical questions. You find that the people asking the questions don’t provide enough information, they make assumptions about things that they don’t understand, and they don’t recognise the correct answer when it is provided. Telephone technical support is extremely difficult because the person posing the question usually expects the tech support person to understand things that aren’t stated, then when they are asked to provide more information they often don’t know how to procure that information.

      The first part of the post, by my understanding of it, asks why in house tech support is poor. I and a few others here have made comments in other discussions on this topic. In an attempt to be concise I would summarise the reasons as follows:

      Poor quality software and hardware.
      Poor work ethic in the American culture.
      Poor quality of business management at all levels.

      I hope that I read your question(s) correctly. 🙂

      • #2718657

        You’re 50% Correct

        by rlast ·

        In reply to Many reasons contribute

        I think you hit the nail on the head-almost completely!

        Sure tech support via phone is tough, BUT, that’s because only 1 person in 10 knows how to do it correctly. I’ve re-engineered tech support ops all over the USA & even with the most complex hardware and software I’ve achieved 12 minute talk times & 3 minute wrap-up times.

        I’ve found almost a complete lack of application training, little use of problem solving & troubleshooting templates & PST skills and inadequate use of problem tracking systems.

        It CAN be done!

        The biggest reason, however, is simply BAD Management at all levels and a complete disregard for customers.

        • #2706596

          Don’t give up….

          by ancientangler ·

          In reply to You’re 50% Correct

          Yes, it CAN be done. I’m in the middle of having a problem solved by Kingston Technology, regarding some sort of incompatibility between my Sony laptop and a memory chip I purchases. The people are outstanding. But, this is a rare occurrence.

        • #3311319

          Epox service is soooo bad!!!!

          by jimchapman ·

          In reply to Don’t give up….

          Don’t buy Epox. I don’t even know the relative quality of the board as I’m mired in the web of disastrous customer service. They contine to drag and will not give me direct contact numbers or a lcoation to send the board for repair.

          To top it off they are rude and make proises about contact within 3 days that are never fulfilled!!!

          What frustration!!! Somebody please help!!!

        • #2706108

          Bad attitudes

          by m_moore ·

          In reply to You’re 50% Correct

          Regarding “complete disregard for customers”, I agree. Many tech support people develop an attitude that the customer is an idiot, and therefore they think customers “don’t ask the right questions”, or “don’t describe their problem adequately.” The reason we’re better at knowing how to ask and answer the questions is because IT’S OUR JOB! When I go to the doctor, he/she does not expect me to know exactly what questions to ask. Part of their job is to probe and figure out my problem because I don’t have the medical knowledge or experience to articulate my issues very well. Keep in mind that the customers don’t spend all day doing what we do, so we are supposed to assess their needs and make their I/T problem as inconsequential as possible. It amazes me more than ever that, with all of the outsourcing going on, there are still so many I/T workers that take their customers for granted.

        • #2706086

          Assembly line mentality.

          by synthetic ·

          In reply to You’re 50% Correct

          Having worked in a senior position for a major PC and memory manufacturer in the US, I was heavily involved when our internal phone support was outsourced (to an American company in another state). This was done as a cost saving measure; I was in charge of training on our products, as well as acting as chief liaison for our medium business customers( up to 500 PC’s)escalations. What I saw from the company who we contacted with was deplorable. The bottom line was on volume, not quality. This firm was paid by the call, so there was tremendous stress to have very low call times. This was one major factor in our very quick and serious decline in customer satisfaction, and poor first call solutions. If someone had to talk an individual into replacing an motherboard, the call time could take hours; this would lead to multiple dropped calls, or quick-in, quick-out non-resolution resolutions. Another factor tor that kept the quality of people very low was pay. These people were paid rather low, and if they had great customer service and technical skills, there was no reason for said person not to be out making better money in the field. The last major factor in this was stress. Dealing with neophytes all day long who didn’t understand that the issue was software, and therefore not covered. Customers lacked an appreciation that technical issues do arise, and were often very reticent, and slow going in working with phone support for problem determination; and honestly, most people who called had a system they had spent thousands on that was not working (so often an issue instigated by the user in software, but that is a whole other rant), they have been on hold for sometime, often poorly treated on other tech support calls (see above), and therefore have a very bad attitude when they do speak with support. For the support tech, day in and day out abuse from customers, poor internal support from the company who farmed out the labor, high demand by management to lower the call time while improving customer relations, and poor pay all add up to horrible support. I have seen very little shift away from this business model, and until that happens, these issues will continue to plague the industry.

        • #2706037

          The Quick-In, Quick-Oout Non-Resolution Factor

          by liz.lucero ·

          In reply to Assembly line mentality.

          I agree with Synthetic. I worked call support for a few months right after college and it was so bad I thought I may have gotten into the wrong field.

          I started in a new tech support center, we had no tracking software or history database. We were told to keep all calls to 10 minutes or less, preferably less than 5 minutes. We were not allowed to escalate calls to a more knowledgeable person. We were given no training at all.

          We had to physically keep track of all our time. What time it was when we went to the restroom and what time it was when returned from the restroom, as well as break and lunchtimes.

          Then there was the physical workspace we had to work in. Shared cubicles, no windows, warehouse atmosphere, it was so cold most of the tech people wore coats or sweaters and some even wore gloves, really! And we were not allowed to take or make personal phone calls even on our breaks.

          I was there for nine months and things never did get better.

        • #2706002

          Side note.

          by synthetic ·

          In reply to The Quick-In, Quick-Oout Non-Resolution Factor

          At least you were able to get out! I am now a senior technical analyst (LAN manager really) for one of the big four international accounting firms, though this came two jobs after my time working in a call center. My technical skills flourished while I was there, and the skills quality of the people who worked in the call center never ceased to amaze. The experience was a poor one for me (and I wasn’t an employee of the call center mind you, just the environment was bad enough), however, my ability to know every aspect of a couple dozen laptops and desktop systems (to a detail level of motherboard bios levels and how they reacted to different motherboard revisions, this was huge when 133Mhz frontside buses from Tyan came into play), as well a myriad software environment, was a huge boost to my abilities later in my career. Being able to talk a person through troubleshooting, in many cases without having ever seen or worked with the equipment and some of the operating systems, and work with a very difficult customer segment provided me with superior skills, both technical and customer service. It also provided me with a new found respect for people in that position. Now, when I am on the phone, or on line with a companies tech support, I forgive all but the most egregious slights from the techs, and whenever I am treated well, I make sure to let their supervisors know how impressed and appreciative I am of a job well done. Have a great day!

        • #2705891

          Out-sourcing American jobs is not the answer!!!!

          by jim425 ·

          In reply to Assembly line mentality.

          I agree with you completely! Well written too! And out-sourcing American jobs is not the answer either! Better education, benefits, and pay will help, and managers with phone support experience will help a lot to promote job satisfaction, which will help with retention. I hear people’s comments everyday that they are very happy to be speaking to an English speaking person, and am sometimes surprised to find out we’re in the US! My team is one of the best phone support teams I have ever known, and I jump right on the phones with them sometimes, so I understand all that is required in this line of work. It takes a special kind of person to be successful in phone tech support; patience, strong technical knowledge, warm soothing voice, excellent customer service skills, etc. Training, benefits, better pay for proven people, that is what we need to do, not send the jobs to foreign counties! That’s a no-brainer!

        • #3305825

          Customer Satisfaction & Strategic Value of IT

          by cary ·

          In reply to Out-sourcing American jobs is not the answer!!!!

          Outsourcing results when the strategic value or an organization or Helpdesk team is perceived as being low. Even if your service levels are high and your customer satisfaction survey results are high, you can still be outsourced because your company’s leadership do not perceive any signifcant difference will occur if you and your team our outsourced.

          To reverse this trend of outsourcing technical groups, you must pursue two goals simultaneously:
          1) Raise the bar of performance across your organization. This takes a motivated leader, metrics, and refreshment courses on customer service and call handling skills.

          2) You must find ways to add more strategic value throughout your company. Ideally you want every general manager and VP of an organization to tout your services are superior to anything an outsourcing agency or offshore support center could accomplish. By strategic value, I mean: Can you impact revenues, operating margins, and the valuation of company’s stock price. My gut tells me you can and my gut is from 15 plus years of experience helping managers achieve the latter goal. If you have any questions about my response, including wanting ideas how helpdesk and IT managers can add greater strategic value, email me or visit this URL: http://www.sholer.net/Customer_Service_Strategic_Value.html

        • #3297500

          Re: Assembly line mentality

          by beecee56 ·

          In reply to Assembly line mentality.

          hear, hear!

          “For the support tech, day in and day out abuse from customers, poor internal support from the company who farmed out the labor, high demand by management to lower the call time while improving customer relations, and poor pay all add up to horrible support. I have seen very little shift away from this business model, and until that happens, these issues will continue to plague the industry.”

      • #2718104

        My 2 cents…

        by pgm554 ·

        In reply to Many reasons contribute

        Poor quality software- yes
        Hardware-It varies, most everything is manufactured overseas these days. So QA is not an American issue.

        Poor work ethic in the American culture.

        NO, we are the most efficient work force in the world, PERIOD.
        The Germans, Japenese or Koreans are not as efficient as America.So don’t go there.
        For the most part,as long as the work is meaning full,we are will push ourselves to the extreme.

        From my perspective, the cost cutting methods of leaner and meaner overtax the tech support infrastructure.

        The QA of software products is joke .We all get shrink wrapped BETA software these days.

        We are the guinea pigs for their not quite done products. And by the time the product is stable, it is obsoleted.

        SONY

        Sony Vaio laptops have a 4 to 6 month product life.
        If there’s a problem, it ain’t gonna get fixed in the production run, it will be fixed in a newer model.
        SBC

        As for tech support, I recently had to set up SBC Yahoo DSL for a friend. What normally should take 15 to 20 minutes, took over 4 hours.
        The line was bouncing up and down, tech support voice menu software was caught in a loop (can’t get a live person).Registration system crashed in the middle of a setup.

        SYMANTEC

        You buy a version of Norton System Works and if you need to reinstall, you need to call Symantec for a new key code because of DRM.Want to talk to tech support? $29.95, to find out if it’s their bug.

        NOVELL
        They are batting .500 these days. A lot of the seasoned folks have been let go to save $$$.
        You get script readers.

        M$

        Need a hotfix? Need a charge card to talk to somebody.18 months after W2K is released, XP hits the street with DRM.(We just want to stop the casual copier).Yeah ,right, and I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.

        They have used monopolistic practices to crush competition and dominate the market with a mediocre and security hole ridden product.
        If a platform on which most everything runs is so unstable, how do expect product tech support to be adequate?

        Poor quality of business management at all levels.

        That varies greatly.

        Capitalism and Wall street are numbers driven.It is paradox in that captialism is the most efficent form of an economic system ,but it tends cause upheaval and unrest among the workers ,who are more or less numbers within an equation geared towards making money.

        The human resource department is kind of a “Madam” in a bordello trying negotiate the best price for the screwing you are going to get.If you’re young and pretty,higher price ,older and not so cute,well….

        America does have the one major flaw of being superficial.If it’s pretty,it must be the best.

        • #2707548

          Most Efficient Workforce in the World? God Help Us!

          by tlccomputers ·

          In reply to My 2 cents…

          The previous poster’s comments about software are right on target. However, the comments about the current American work ethic are so unbelievable it is almost laughable. If our workforce is the most efficient in the world, then the world is in a very sad state of affairs indeed! I am reminded every single day when I step out into the public arena of how far we have slipped in the quality of customer service in the past 30 years, from the fast food industry all the way up to the top of the food chain. The attitude of most people I encounter who have to deal with the public on any regular basis is: “I put in my time every day. Do you actually expect me to work, too?” They seem to think a paycheck is an entitlement for which all they have to do is show up and spend 8 hours each day doing anything but working. There are still a few dedicated individuals who believe in an honorable work ethic, but they are getting fewer and further between. I think the person who pointed to poor work ethic in this discussion as part of the problem is right on the money!

        • #2707530

          We have higher national production and work longer

          by cappadonna ·

          In reply to Most Efficient Workforce in the World? God Help Us!

          Frankly, you want to see really lazy workers in the industrialized world, go visit France!! The idea that Americans are lazier than our far east competitors is total hogwash propped up by CEO and wall street types who want to convince Americnas to work even longer…

          We’re the only industrial nation (other than Japan and Russia) in which laborers work more than 45 hours per week on average. I would say that we are far from lazy. If anything, we are wage slaves driving ourselves in to early graves.

        • #2707506

          Working Long Hours Doesn’t Mean Work Quality

          by cjc9 ·

          In reply to We have higher national production and work longer

          A very important issue here is this notion that if you work long hours, you must be a hard worker…a ludicrous concept at best.

          In my early career days, many of the people I worked with would put in 60 hour weeks, in the spirit of “making the deliverable”. What I came to find out was that many of them were simply bad at their job, so bad, in fact, that they often needed to redo their work many times over, just for it to be minimally acceptable. This took time!

          When I discovered that these folks were being perceived as “harder workers” than myself (quality job first time around, 37.5 hours a week, thank you), my resume hit the streets – it was clearly time to move on.

          Incompetence, inefficiency and laziness are prevelent in the American workforce, especially at the “pointy-haired boss level”. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen examples to the contrary, hard workers who’s 60 hour weeks easily eclipsed other two full week output… But to say that the American workforce is the most efficient in the world certainly seems narrow minded to me.

          Or perhpas those folks have never had the experience of working in the “Fortune 500” world. My word, you could fund several small countries with the money lost on “smoker’s breaks”!!!

        • #2707498

          I believe this is a structural issue

          by *bml* ·

          In reply to Working Long Hours Doesn’t Mean Work Quality

          I agree that there are a lot of workers — especially in larger corporations — who are doing a very bad job.

          But I believe that this is a structural issue — the Dilbert principle at work…

          I have several folks on my team who could be exceptionally productive, but the structure of our corporate environment makes it very difficult to be productive and do a good job.

          If you give talented people a goal and give them the power to get the job done, then you see great results. If you don’t set good goals and/or you don’t give them the power to reach the goals, then you get frustrated, sarcastic workers.

        • #2708941

          So True!!!!

          by ozguy ·

          In reply to I believe this is a structural issue

          I work in one of the those large multi-national companies and I believe BML’s comments are exact.

          I have seen the same company go from providing and wide recognised exceptional service to an average service with many of the same people on the ground, but through management change and company philosophy service deteriorated.

          A company’s structure and atmosphere needs to be conducive to making employees want to work hard and achieve. There needs to be rewards for doing so and management need to ability and strength to identify those who are not pulling their weight and do something about it.

          If the structure and people are right at the tops levels, it’s amazing how things can change. A manager who has a good understanding of customer service and work ethic will generally not tolerate anything else from the people under them, and so it flows down to the point where peers will pressure each other to excel.

        • #2707487

          Absolute vs relative

          by elder griffon ·

          In reply to Working Long Hours Doesn’t Mean Work Quality

          I hate to interject, since I can’t quote chapter and verse, but it’s a frequently-cited finding that American workers tend to score high both in hours worked and measures of overall productivity, somtimes in marked contrast to other industrialized nations. I think this is what the other poster was referring to by saying “most efficient in the world,” although I can’t say what specific evidence there is of that. Certainly, it doesn’t seem like there are many experts who would assert that Americans score poorly in terms of productivity per hour worked, relative to other countries.

          It should be noted, I think, that this finding in itself doesn’t preclude the notion that we Americans lack a common practice of diligence for certain things, or that perhaps a necessary diligence for certain kinds of work is missing from business cultures around the world.

          I’ve noticed this in the company I work for as it moves from an entrepreneurial to a more long-term business structure. Some problems that would have been quickly solved before tend to hang around, because people are reluctant to take responsibility for them. In fairness, this is often because people feel like they are not rewarded for taking responsibility, and might even in some cases be punished for not concentrating on their main job functions. Workers often get the message that they deliver value to the organization in part through predictable behavior (such as working longer hours, even if productivity isn’t there). I often wonder what could possibly be done about this.

        • #2706606

          Australian Experience

          by alan ·

          In reply to Absolute vs relative

          I live and work in Australia and find great productivity correlates with mutual respect among workers for education and training. If the workplace culture promotes and rewards education, greater interest in quality outputs results.

        • #2709098

          Ree-hee-heally?

          by timbo zimbabwe ·

          In reply to Working Long Hours Doesn’t Mean Work Quality

          “My word, you could fund several small countries with the money lost on “smoker’s breaks”!!!”

          Well THIS smoker takes 3 breaks a day; Before work, at lunch and after work. First, don’t assume that because someone smokes and takes their coffee break to smoke, that they get nothing done. Secondly, in the IT field, I personally wonder how much time/money is lost to “Doom 3” or “Star Craft” breaks…..

        • #2709068

          If I Were Hiring…

          by richards_unsubcribe ·

          In reply to Ree-hee-heally?

          If I were hiring I would stipulate non-smoking as a pre-requisite to any job application.

          Skyrocketing health insurance costs, the life insurance industry figured out years ago that smokers die earlier and cost more to support… so their rates are higher for smokers. The loss of productivity due to time off for smoking related illnesses and lost productive time due to “smoke breaks” all sap the bottom line. It’s interesting that some politically correct workplaces even stipulate a “fragrance free” environment, all the while allowing hordes of their workers to stream back into the office after a coffee break… their clothes stinking of residual tobacco smoke… what a joke.

          If people want to commit tobacco-assisted suicide, they wouldn’t be doing it on my watch.

          Richard

        • #2723897

          Hard work not smart work is rewarded. Look at advertising.

          by asheehy ·

          In reply to Working Long Hours Doesn’t Mean Work Quality

          http://www.eds.com/advertising/ads/parking_lot_ad.pdf

          If you go to the link above, you will see how ingrained ‘face time’ or long hours are ingrained in the American working psyche.

          The decision makers actually use this in a marketing campaign? How long you work makes no difference. What you get done and for what cost does. Just the fact that people have to work long hours means that either the company is running the staff levels to lean or they trying to substitute hardwork for competence.

          Especially for a company like EDS where most of the work it does is Time and Materials. So as a client, whenever I see them burning the midnight oil, I see my bill going up.

        • #2707526

          Bad Leadership and Management

          by abarfield ·

          In reply to Most Efficient Workforce in the World? God Help Us!

          Lets put the blame where it belongs – Bad leadership and managemnt.

        • #2707516

          Bad Leadership and management

          by ezrommokgakala ·

          In reply to Bad Leadership and Management

          How do we correct this?

        • #2715427

          correctable?

          by oprensr ·

          In reply to Bad Leadership and management

          I am not sure that this is correctable. Everyone knows its a problem but the only people who can change it, the management are not concerned. All they see is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ today. Not the coming calamity.

        • #2707472

          Easy Targets on High

          by foosapiens ·

          In reply to Bad Leadership and Management

          It is simple binary logic – blame those above us or blame ourselves. Some people have a simplistic view, blame my boss. More often it is a combination of the two (just like teeth, we need functional uppers and lowers). Did you pick this job, or were you forced into it? Do you know everything you should know, or are you a child waiting to be served? There are bad bosses and bad employees – there are good bosses and good employees. I must admit, those people who design forms that give you ______ space for a name and ________________ space for a date on the same form perplex me. The individual must always be responsible for his/her choices – including the industry they have decided to work in. Our society has developed the most sophisticated electronics, yet we seem to keep falling down on more basic problems. The three F?s ? form, fit, and function ? engineering doesn?t own these attributes; they need to belong to everyone. Fix it, replace it, or accept it. The other option is to go somewhere else.

        • #2709182

          Not to sound like a political ‘sound-byte’, but…

          by cyberteets ·

          In reply to Easy Targets on High

          I couldn’t agree with foosapien more…I would add that part of the problem where front line customer satisfaction is concerned goes back to the “right hand not knowing…” scenario. There are so many independent’layers’ of support particularly in phone support, that just getting to the right person is a challenge for the customer. After (time on hold, plus) 10 minutes with ‘support level I’, is there anything more annoying than being given a new number/extension for someone ELSE who SHOULD be able to help with a particular problem. The lack of interdepartmental communicative ability with many companies is astonishing.
          The complete absence of empowerment at strategic levels of the front line is a structural mistake as well. How ridiculous is it (and what does it cost a company in time lost) to spend that aforementioned 10 minutes only to be then told, let me connect you with a ‘supervisor’, who then must connect you with…
          (Done any phone biz with DELL lately? You know exactly what I mean!)

        • #2709164

          Don’t forget transfers

          by allways_something ·

          In reply to Not to sound like a political ‘sound-byte’, but…

          Don’t forget the “Let me transfer you to …, they should be able to help you.” Then you hear the phone ring 5 or 6 times followed by a dead phone.

        • #2715424

          good point

          by oprensr ·

          In reply to Easy Targets on High

          Ultimately the problem is the people not the management. We have let ourselves drift into this situation by accepting shortcuts and unprincipled actions of our own. The change has to start with the people. It would help if we would pick good leaders who don’t promise “pie in the sky”.

        • #2709207

          Why Support is so bad and American Work Ethic

          by problemslayer ·

          In reply to Most Efficient Workforce in the World? God Help Us!

          First as a former support person, I think one of the biggest reasons, aside from some already mentioned is that companies do not pay their support staff enough to attract individuals of quality with a good knowledge and problem solving skill set. Half the time it seems like you are talking to someone who is making minimum wage reading from a script who would be completely powerless if you took away their computer, (which is telling them what to do.)

          More than once I knew more about the system these guys are supporting then they did. I don’t blame the support persons themselves, I blame the Managment for either not paying enough to keep talented and knowledgeable fold or for not training properly the folks they have. Many times support is a second thought and thought as a cost center, not a profit center, so now one wants to pay for good support.

          Luckily there are exceptions out there, but they seem few and far between.

          As to the American work ethic…
          It is really easy go based on antidotal evidence here. Some might say it’s great and some might say it’s horrible based on their experience. When you look at how much we produce in product and wealth per person compared to the rest of the world and the numbers of hours the average American work works, you see that the our work ethic is alive an well . While it may not be what it once was, and while you can find a slob who thinks that it’s incontinent of the customer to actually expect service, I think as a whole, America is one of the hardest if not thee hardest working country out there.

        • #2709186

          Anglo Saxons vs the rest

          by swansong ·

          In reply to Most Efficient Workforce in the World? God Help Us!

          The USA is far from being particularly efficient. On the contrary both USA & UK productivity is exceeded by the French who work less than 37 hours per week by law.

          IMHO the problem is that most UK & USA workers strongly resent the 8-7pm culture that is prevalent and encouraged by management. I am paid to do 37 hours work a week, but rarely do less than 50 and often more. Failure to ‘go the extra mile’ marks you out as a malcontent or trouble-maker. I’m sure Steve Jobs, Scott McNealey & Bill Gates (to name a few) all ‘work’ 70+ hrs a week and ‘enjoy’ it. They are NOT fielding calls from irate farmers in Utah or Pembrokeshire completely baffled by the lousy software or hardware these gents’ companies have sold them.

          The guys (& gals too) who *do* support the kit work 60+ hrs in miserable call centres, constantly overlooked and monitored, and do so for lousy wages. The old adage that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys is not always true, but if you do pay peanuts, don’t be surprised if your workforce act like monkeys!

          You talk about an ‘honourable work ethic’ (UK spelling, OK?), but how about ‘honourable employers’ ethics’? A fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay is as good a motto as you will ever see in this context.
          The workers in the VW factory in Mexico don’t work harder than their USA counterparts, they simply earn only about 20% of the pay. In business terms this is efficient. The chineese workers who make Nike & Gap products are lucky to see a few dollars a day – even more ‘efficient’. There is no way USA or UK (or French come to that) workers will EVER compete – does that make us lazy?

        • #2709096

          The French?

          by timbo zimbabwe ·

          In reply to Anglo Saxons vs the rest

          “On the contrary both USA & UK productivity is exceeded by the French who work less than 37 hours per week by law.”

          I worked for a French oil company and I can tell you from first hand experience; their idea of “immediate” was “eventually” as in “it will get done eventually”….

        • #2721997

          That is SO true.

          by oz_media ·

          In reply to The French?

          I remember waiting for seeral weks for a rech Lumber company to deliver a load of plywood to my uncle’s home in the south of France.

          He would call ad the boss would say ” No problem, it should get there today”

          At 4:00 a second call would end in “Well, if they didn’ make it by now they are at the pub. Maybe tomorrow, fingers crossed!”

          It was truly hilarious, unless you are trying to get something built. :p

        • #2709045

          Productivity and Efficiency

          by elder griffon ·

          In reply to Anglo Saxons vs the rest

          We should probably be more precise in describing these. I’m no expert, and I certainly do not have a host of data at my disposal, but cursory examination of some sources suggests it’s not as simple as it sounds.

          In the first paragraph of your post, it sounds like you may be suggesting that France’s productivity per capita is actually greater than that of the UK or US, despite the fact that French workers work fewer hours. Although it has been true for some time that French workers have been more productive per hour, in the data I’ve seen, both the US and UK outstrip France in GDP per capita by a significant margin, reflecting, no doubt, the greater hours worked. It should also be noted in passing that the margin of the French lead in productivity per hour relative to the US and UK has been steadily decreasing over the last decade or so, with some figures from after 2000 showing the US with a slight edge over France in this statistic.

          In any case, the US ranks high among industrialized nations in terms of both statistics, and the UK is not particularly low either, according to the figures at my disposal.

          The figures I’m referring to are from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the UK Department of Trade and Industry. I cannot unfortunately attest to their reliability, but they are somewhat official. Check out http://www.bls.gov and http://www.dti.gov.uk. If there are better sources out there, I’d be glad to know of them, since I’m not highly versed in the subject.

          Of course, there’s no question that if you factor in wages, the efficiency on a cost basis of a worker in a developed nation is pretty low compared to a worker in the developing world. Moreover, the productivity figures I mention above may not have much to say about the kinds of work we’re talking about in this forum.

        • #2709129

          Quality of Customer Service/Help

          by cbmilhaus ·

          In reply to Most Efficient Workforce in the World? God Help Us!

          It would make a HUGE difference if the people who did this work really cared about the work they are doing. I should know, I do it, and I DO care about helping my customers and it matters a lot. Our past few generations have become so plugged into their MP3 players abd Cell Phones, they have forgotten the art of conversation.
          SKILLS without a willingnes to be of service to others is a shallow fishing line in a very deep lake,

        • #2706824

          Work Ethic

          by non techie ·

          In reply to Most Efficient Workforce in the World? God Help Us!

          As a sometime user of HelpDesks (work, HP, MSoft, Symantec etc)and shops, garages, admin desks, I find nationality or culture doesn’t matter. It’s the working conditions people are under or the people themselves. However when I went to the US of A I found people very nice. Much “nicer” then Australian front desk/shop/call centre. So does my American spouse.

          If I call a helpdesk from Australia, I can get anywhere in the World on the other end. Most are very good. If I call my work Helpdesk I usually ask for one or two people I knopw will be helpful. I think work ethic generally has slid all round- face to face or over technology links. It’s a me, me and me World out there. Unfortunately the US gets the blame for it and every other thing known to humankind.

          But there are still plenty of us out there, World-wide, who go an extra (paid or underpaid). and we are better for it.

        • #2715430

          work ethic

          by oprensr ·

          In reply to Most Efficient Workforce in the World? God Help Us!

          Poor management can kill good work ethic in a flash. There is nothing American management does better than killing work ethic.

        • #2706023

          Do you actually expect me to work, too?

          by liz.lucero ·

          In reply to Most Efficient Workforce in the World? God Help Us!

          I expect to get flamed big time for this remark, but please keep in mind this is just my experience. I find that the majority of poor service attitude comes from young people. They almost never say ?Thank You? at fast-food places, or when cashiering in a grocery or department store. I?m lucky if I get a ?Your Welcome? if I say thank you. But the ones who are really at fault for this are the older people. The managers and others in ?High Places? don?t teach the younger ones the way of politeness and courtesy. I have been in fast-food places where the service was terrible and the manager apologized for the behavior of the workers and excused it by saying, ?What can you expect? They?re just kids.? What I expect is a ??May I help you? a smile and a ?Thank you??.

        • #2707512

          Dead on

          by robert4jc ·

          In reply to My 2 cents…

          You hit the mark dead on. Of course there will be disagreement on America being the best work force. I do agree with your assesment!

        • #2709157

          …worth a dime.

          by dogzilla ·

          In reply to My 2 cents…

          Pretty dead on! When blinded by the bottom line as only computing to the $ the customer misses out. Thus poor tech support, products that more often than not do less than advertised and we are all forking out the time and $ so the few at the top can look fabulous baby.

          ROTFL

          There are many intrinsic values that are simply ignored because they do not translate into the almighty $.

        • #2709082

          What Oxymoron??… MSN Help Desk

          by richards_unsubcribe ·

          In reply to My 2 cents…

          RE: PGM554… “poor work ethic in the American culture.”…next line he says… “NO, we are the most efficient work force in the world, PERIOD.”

          HUH?? Me thinks just an ideological rant.

          The MSN help desk is “outsourced” to Canada… Nanaimo, Vancouver Island where they expect well educated computer literate people, mostly young, to work from 5am to whenever for $7.50/hr CDN starting wage… and they keep you on that for as long as possible. After taxes and forced deductions you might net 4.50/hr… this in a market where gas is presently $3.63cdn/per US gallon, house prices start at around $180,000cdn with apartment rents at $600cdn/month. Needless to say the math doesn’t add up… and employment in the MSN (of course it’s contracted out) job warehouse becomes little more than a year or 2 of job experience and a resume’ builder…. so the job is a revolving door… just a stepping stone to something hopefully worth keeping.

          There is an old adage… you get what you pay for, and these days a net of $4.50/hr cdn ($3.38 us) isn’t much.

          Richard in Canada

        • #2707046

          Re:

          by vltiii ·

          In reply to My 2 cents…

          I want to comment on only one statement you made. We are not the most efficient country on the planet. We generate much volume, are on the leading edge of technology, and generate much revenue, but none of these equate to efficiency. As the previos poster stated, a large percentage of americans have very poor work ethics which by extension means that efficiency if adversely effected. We may be the largest contributor to the planets economy, but if we were to become the most efficient…who knows where that would lead.

        • #2714995

          Gee, why such a bad work ethic?

          by jwbogart ·

          In reply to Re:

          Let’s stop dancing around. You want a chain of cause and effect? Let’s start with kids who are marginalized out of productive society, whose parents have no expectations for their present existence, just about their future earning potential. Middle class kids that get everything handed to them, and poor kids who just slouch out and hang with their peers for lack of anything better to do, or any guidance. Add schools that are deliberately dumbed down to the point that they are only juvenile day care. Don’t let the Prez’ “no child’s left buttox” initiative fool you, there is no interest in a work force that is too smart for the menial jobs. I started learning about the physical world and troubleshooting when I was 11, and I had to keep a lawnmower running to earn a living. It shocks me that most things carry a “no user servicable parts” label these days, and most people I meet are intimidated by anything more complicated than a garden hose. These people are hired because they are cheaper than the engineers that make the hardware and software. If they were any good, they would be writing software, not answering the phone. They are well educated by modern standards, and well meaning, but they are only paid enough to talk to end users and not piss them off. They are not paid enough to be experts. Now let’s add inept upper and middle management to the mix. These are people making 2-3 times the salary of the average worker bee and are taking all the credit for their team’s success without even understanding the technical discussions around them. If you asked them, they would admit to being “rusty”, but they would maintain that they had “paid their dues”, all the while maintaining a “what have you done for me lately?” mentality when dealing with their subordinates. Gee, I can’t understand why the work ethic, and incidentally, phone support should suck, can you?

      • #2707580

        Reply To: Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

        by msnair99 ·

        In reply to Many reasons contribute

        All time the person calling from the customer side is going through the problem phase. Hence he expects that his problem is dealt with on priority and always want the support person to reply with that priority..

      • #2707533

        I agree, but there’s more…

        by chrisban35 ·

        In reply to Many reasons contribute

        Let’s look at today’s average college period! Today a person leaves college and they have all these memorized scenarios in their head but not one ounce of theorized application training. Basically, they know the information but not the mechanics of how to use it. Time and time again I have seen this failure from even PHD’s. Our colleges are leaning more and more away from application principals and into data compression style learning. Honestly, how many schools today actually have trouble-shooting labs? I know in the schools here in Atlanta, GA it’s a boot camp of information with no troubleshooting or theory labs as to why things have a certain protocol. We need to place half the blame squarely on the way we train people rather than the end result. One thing I used to really HATE about my time in the U.S. Army was training. Not only would we be forced to memroize something, but we were forced to know it inside and out, how it worked, what to do if this or that happened. You know, REAL training! I guess my point is while in the military refueling 45 Helicopters, when a 350GPM pump shutdown, I had the FSSP system back up in less than 5 minutes becuase I had been TRAINED to deal with possible breakdowns. Again, I ask, in our colleges and tech schools, how many teachers and trainiers really put emphasis on trouble shooting? Not many…… Then you add the “flavor” of styles used today in programming where there is no one set way of creating drivers, software and even hardware schematics and protocols are drastically different. We have become a NOW society, and the reality of this whole instance is complexity. Remember the days when you waited up to 14 days for a lettter! As a business owner, I want my techs to finnish the job on the first visit as much as the next guy, BUT more importantly, I want it fixed and fixed right! So we let our clients know that some thing may require a second visit, but that visit is required! After all, you don’t go to the doc and find out you have cancer and he gives you a miracle cure that day!

        Chris
        The PC Doctor

        • #2709211

          Poor Tech Support is a Management Issue

          by pmwpaul ·

          In reply to I agree, but there’s more…

          I’ve been working in tech support for over ten years and I have a good view of where poor tech support is coming from.

          If you contact a dsl phone company for tech support, the techs(?) are graded on phone time. How long does it take the tech to get you off the phone! That’s it. Not if the problem got solved, not if the customer had to call back, not if the tech referred the customer to another vendor who had no input into the problem; just time! Period. And if the average time per call, the tech gets “reviewed” by his manager. Techs are promoted to level II not based on their knowledge of the product but how well they can get the customer off the phone. The less time per call, the less number of employees necessary to “support” the product and the less cost of the call center.

          Example: I have sbc dsl service. I forgot my account password when installing a firewall. So I called sbc dsl tech support and requested this information. I’ve got my firewall up and I’m putting in the information so I asked the tech for the dns info so I could input it into my firewall. The tech told me to go to the firewall vendor to get dns info for the firewall! The “tech” didn’t even know what dns was!

          My tech support department is now getting outsourced. We cost too much. Even though we haven’t gotten a raise in over three years, we’re too expensive. We all have at least a mcp and some have both a ccna and a mcse so we know how to configure a lan for dsl access. But we’re too expensive.

          When health management decides what procedures can not be done to improve health, it makes news and congress gets involved.

          When management sets the priorities for the company, and support isn’t in the top ten, you can’t blame the techs. The person who counts the money flow (bean counter) and decides the support is too expensive has the responsibility and the blame.

          If you’ve got a problem with tech support, blame the management of the company. Call the president or vp and complain. But don’t blame an $8.00/hr tech clerk who’s just doing their job.

        • #2709015

          Right on target!

          by tutor ·

          In reply to Poor Tech Support is a Management Issue

          My husband works in a call center supporting a major shipper’s software. When he started (~5 yrs ago) the emphasis was on solving the customer’s problem in a polite manner. Call time wasn’t a factor in employment and only a small one for review. Time was allowed to study and review procedure, regular training was given and manuals could be taken home for study in off time.

          Over the last 18 months, call time has risen to the number one evaluation point, with expected times squeezing from 14 minutes a year ago down to 9.5 minutes as of ~2 months ago. (Did I mention that the requirements for the software are a minimal Windows 98 system? And that many times several reboots are needed to reset the browser, software and hardware in the steps listed?) Gone are the 15 minutes/day to review new procedures. Materials may no longer be taken from the property for study. (But don’t miss a step or new procedure or you will fail one of your twice weekly reviews!) The infrequent training is brief and if on a call when it starts, oh well, you are still expected to take the test at the end. (Nevermind you missed 20 minutes of a 60 minute class and there are no handouts.) Fail the test and you may find yourself on a ‘performance plan’. “Power words” and following the script/procedures are more important than if the customer issue was solved. And if you answer a question that you CAN, but the steps in the procedure say should go to the next level? Policy violation – 3 and you are out.

          However, staff is reduced from over 300 techs 3 years ago to barely 50 now, so the company is saving lots of money. Isn’t that just grand?

        • #2722044

          sorry … double post

          by g.brown ·

          In reply to Poor Tech Support is a Management Issue

          sorry … double post

        • #2707379

          Troubleshooting is an art

          by pgm554 ·

          In reply to I agree, but there’s more…

          Yes, we would all like to have an issue fixed on the call, but unfortunately, we must deal with the QA of the tools we are given to fix the issues with.

          No matter what you do to fix something, there are just going to be cases where something is a lemon and it’s just not going to ever work as promised.

          M$ has admitted that past products just weren’t very good or stable (I.E. Win95, Small Business Server 4.5, IIS 4).

          So the issue is that no matter how hard you try, you will NEVER be able to fix some issues on the first try (or the 20th).

          A tech can only be as good as the tools that he is given. And in the case of a lot of products, no matter how well you polish a turd,it will still be a turd at the end of the day

        • #2707177

          Training is the issue, on both ends of the call

          by ibexscribe ·

          In reply to I agree, but there’s more…

          I must agree with the lack of training being at the root of the problem. Whether that is from school or on the job, an untrained tech is not going to know how to troubleshoot. I know about this because I am a tech with no formal IT education. I graduated from college with a BA in History and landed a job in PC support 9 months after obtaining said degree. I have been trained very well on the job by techs that know what they’re doing, but even with all of that training, there are a lot of things I don’t know because of lack of training in those areas. (I guess I have the opposite problem of the techs with the formal education and no practical training.) We’re not strictly phone techs and are responsible for supporting all 200+ applications that we are running in addition to OS and hardware, so I know my case is different, but I think I still have some insight into the problem.

          One of the difficulties in troubleshooting is the plethora of hardware and drivers that users are running, not to mention other software on their computer that can interfere with whatever software one is attempting to support. We have users attempting to use two programs, each requiring a different Java client. They can’t use both programs, then, since the requirements for one will “break” the other. There are multiple options for installing printer drivers and some software will work with one but not the other. It is hard to troubleshoot if you don’t know what else a user is running. If a tech knows those things about their software, they should be able to troubleshoot that, but those are not the most prominent of problems and probably to not receive the highest billing in whatever training a company gives its level 1 support staff.

          Having worked briefly in a call center, albeit in a completely different field, I also know about the tools given to phone representatives. There are scripted responses they are trained to give and they are trained in the scenarios in which those scripted responses may be appropriate. While this may work in a majority of cases, there are many calls that cannot be effectively answered by a script. This is really a poor training system that is effective only at minimizing time from initial hire to solo flight in the call center. Having called tech support myself, I am convinced that they have been given scripts and little more.

          Then there are the users. Many people might find tech support unhelpful because they are not competent enough to follow instructions or communicate even basic information about their problem. I have solved the wrong problem before because of the way someone has explained what is happening or have found that the problem with the program is a problem with their hardware. Software techs are not mindreaders. I know people who cannot follow directions that are explicitly written, accurate and detailed, complete with pictures. You can walk them through something and they will click on the wrong thing – the only way you know that is if you see it. Other users will call one company’s tech support with connection problems that the user’s personal firewall is blocking. That is guaranteed to be ineffective!

          Great support happens when the tech knows what they are doing, has good communication skills and patience (an area in which some of us are lacking), and a user who is able to communicate the problem and follow directions. It’s too bad we don’t live in an ideal world!

      • #2707473

        Reply To: Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

        by rharper ·

        In reply to Many reasons contribute

        Stress Junkie,

        Your response is so on point.
        Poor quality software and hardware.
        Poor work ethic in the American culture.
        Poor quality of business management at all
        levels.

        Thanks for your candor.

        • #2706031

          poor work ethic in the American culture

          by rickhal ·

          In reply to Reply To: Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

          I agree with all your points with the exception of: “poor work ethic in the American culture”. This a overly general statement that you couldn’t possibly have researched in any meaningful way. You state that in many cases the person calling for support doesn’t really know how to even state with any degree of precision, what the problem is that they are experiencing. Having done many years of support for Lotus Domino/Notes, I know this to be true. Too many end users (especially in the corporate world) are given very little training on the software products they will be using. Add to this the high levels of stress that all employees in the corporate arena face these days, and you have a bad situation. Add in unreasonable SLAs cooked up by management people interested mainly in making themselves look good to senior managment and you have a bad situation made worse. Then add in a reluctance on the part of management to invest wisely in infrastructure or to short change infrastrucuture maintenenace and upgrading, and you get bad results all the way around. Are there tech support people who don’t have a good work ethic? Of course there are. But, in my experience that is a minor reason as to why tech support is not what it should be. The vast majority of tech support people I have worked with have a good work ethic. They may not be trained properly for what they are expected to do, but again, this is a management issue. For not hiring the right person for the job. Or, more likely, trying to skimp on labor compensation to make the bottom line look better. That is my two cents worth on the subject.

      • #2709176

        Stress Junkie is RIGHT!!

        by normalitguy ·

        In reply to Many reasons contribute

        I could not agree more with the causes below for poor tech support:

        Poor quality software and hardware.
        Poor work ethic in the American culture.
        Poor quality of business management at all levels.

      • #2709154

        why its bad? everything is relative

        by tahoesid ·

        In reply to Many reasons contribute

        Having worked in call centers such as Dells and the old micron I think you may need to look at it from the other side. Right now people are buying very cheap(inexpensive) hardware and are expecting very expensive support. A LOT of the problems are user caused. That is they download viruses , worms etc. Then guess what who do they call and expect to fix it. Lots of support calls are software based problems, quite a few are OS problems. From what I can tell a lot of the problems are Windows issues that the customer expects to be fixed.
        Sometimes it seemed that around 75% of the issues being called about were Microsoft based. Guess what? Microsoft doesnt want to hear about it. They send em to the OEM, who has to put people on the phones to fix Windows problems. Guess how much money they make from putting Windows on their products. Not much I bet.
        Throw all that together and the manufacturer is forced to get the cheapest help they can get. So the customer is buying Chevy products and expects Cadillac service. The customers with real hardware issues suffer along with the other self caused problems.
        My wife sells computers on a retail level and has to deal with customers that take a computer home and get a virus and bring the computer back. Guess who they blame…It can’t be their fault..it has to be the computers fault. This is on computers that come with an antivirus package good for at least a short time.

        Is there a cure for this? Doubt it. People aren’t willing to pay a decent price for support or take the time to learn a little bit about their system.
        So I think it is gonna get worse till computers are made as easy as an appliance. It usually just works out of the box and keeps working. They don’t change the internals of refrigerators, washing machines , etc every year. It’s all tested technology. People don’t usually buy a new one every two years because they want it to do different things. So there is a catch to progress.

        • #2705790

          Is Microsoft so bad?

          by davmax ·

          In reply to why its bad? everything is relative

          I respond as a skilled user who supports a number of users. I use Microsoft products and I do not load software that the hardware or OS cannot accept eg abberent games.
          My experience is that Microsoft causes absolutely minimal problems, yes there are holes for attacking the OS, but if you adopt the appropriate defences there is nolittle to be concerned about. Re. external support I have found many ISP support people to be inadequate. They are often wrong, poor at problem solving and often the first reaction is to blame the user.
          I can understand the latter, some users make no effort and are intolerant. However I am sure that many support (help desk) people are not well paid and lack experience and training in many fundamentals.

          Too many people over the years have blamed Microsoft. My experience had has shown that faulty hardware, incorrect drivers and the lack of reading instruction or basic training by users are the main problem areas. User competency is usually a major issue with skill to handle this situation also up there.

        • #3295047

          Let’s get professional and stop the bashing

          by philospher ·

          In reply to Is Microsoft so bad?

          First let’s stop the bashing of contiuing education of certified professionals. Yes, thier are always going to be amateurs out there who use braindumps and shortcuts to look like a professional. Also to bash a company for its products (and let’s face it they all do it)&
          Too many people over the years have blamed Microsoft. My experience had has shown that faulty hardware, incorrect drivers and the lack of reading instruction or basic training by users are the main problem areas. User competency is usually a major issue with skill to handle this situation also up there.

          Also a profesional attitude is needed. The attitude of the conforming to a set of standards and rules is appalling. The mindset of most expericenced IT people is also appalling. How are we going to pass along needed skills and experience for up and comers. The website Tipsforsuccess.com offers a code for professionals.

      • #2709029

        The all-important metric

        by dave.edwards ·

        In reply to Many reasons contribute

        Management is infatuated with pretty charts and the metrics they represent. If the support person does not handle a high enough volume of calls per day they are reprimanded. The quality of support is not generally an issue, only volume. The result is the most qualified techs are driven from the support queue due to unreasonable expectations from management. This is a serious lack of repect to some one who has driven themselves to be at the top of their field. I have managed a support group and worked as 3rd level for other groups and the more corporate the businesses try become, the poorer the quality of support.

        • #2708957

          More on metrics

          by mova ·

          In reply to The all-important metric

          You have hit a significant contributing factor to the poor quality of support — that is the poor quality of the metrics chosen. Most shops measure raw counts of tickets closed within a certain time period. In other words, speed (and quantity) are of the essence. Given the fixed/shrinking budgets of most shops, the only other variable that management can adjust to compensate for the increased speed required, within a fixed budget, is reduced quality. The poor quality is not the root problem, it is a symptom of another problem — namely, what is being measured is only part of the picture. Adding customer satisfaction as a criterion based on customer responses to a percentage of tickets (and taken a day or two later, so the customer can be sure the problem is “really” solved) would help to balance the incentives more towards the quality side of the picture and away from the quantity times speed side that is so often emphasized. ’nuff said.

        • #3306557

          Re: The all-important metric

          by ar15dcm ·

          In reply to The all-important metric

          Obviously management wants to stretch their departments dollar and show the greatest value spent in order to justify their budget, not to mention existence.

          It is not the IT dpearment managers that are the problem. I suggest that it is the bean counters looking at the bottom line. They listen to the CEO who is saying ‘we must cut costs’. What does a CEO know about quality IT work? They know when they call IT they get service under some ‘Executive Support’ process. But this is NOT what the general employee population receives. So it is easy to cut costs and quality of service, they still receive the same service regardless and are oblivious.

          Now, to the real point I wanted to make. The fact is that those of us in the IT field need to pick up the pace and do more work if we want to stay employed. Competition from outsourcing both domestic and foreign mandate it. We have to do more with less staff which equates to higher workloads. Such is life in IT.

      • #2707328

        Americans go too hard on themselves

        by non techie ·

        In reply to Many reasons contribute

        Work Ethic posted earlier on another thread:

        As a sometime user of HelpDesks (work, HP, MSoft, Symantec etc)and shops, garages, admin desks, I find nationality or culture doesn’t matter. It’s the working conditions people are under or the people themselves. However when I went to the US of A I found people very nice. Much “nicer” then Australian front desk/shop/call centre. So does my American spouse.

        If I call a helpdesk from Australia, I can get anywhere in the World on the other end. Most are very good. If I call my work Helpdesk I usually ask for one or two people I knopw will be helpful. I think work ethic generally has slid all round- face to face or over technology links. It’s a me, me and me World out there. Unfortunately the US gets the blame for it and every other thing known to humankind.

        But there are still plenty of us out there, World-wide, who go an extra (paid or underpaid). and we are better for it.

        From: non techie Date: 09/14/04

      • #2715439

        poor management

        by oprensr ·

        In reply to Many reasons contribute

        I’d say poor management at all levels is the primary reason. Work ethic etc. is very influenced by poor management techniques such as failing to use positive feedback techniques, removal of incentives for good quality and quantity other than negative ones such as firings; short term budgeting, lack of training, poor work distribution, on and on it goes.

      • #2706505

        American Culture

        by tkuo ·

        In reply to Many reasons contribute

        This is American culture issue!
        I see most of the qualified people became managers because we don’t pay enough for the technical workers. We don’t have proper channel to promote technical skills and keep them in technical field.

      • #2706088

        Additional causes of poor 1st Call Resolution

        by alephgeek ·

        In reply to Many reasons contribute

        The blame lies in multiple places with this issue from my own experience:

        1.) Systems rolled out without adequate documentation, without adequate training, without adequate involvement of support personnel.

        2.) Insufficient end-user knowledge of system coupled with insufficient support-user knowledge of how the system is used (this assumes that support personnel have at least some level of knowledge of the system in the first place – this is not always the case, as our support personnel receive calls on systems which have never been documented and must learn “on the fly”).

        3.) Corporate mind-frame that “support will just know” – techs are paid to know systems, so they’re expected to support them with minimal exposure or training, and often without documentation or access to resources.

        The list goes on.

      • #2706042

        expectations

        by gsg ·

        In reply to Many reasons contribute

        I know that as an IT person that supports many applications, I get complaints that I’m “uncooperative” or that I won’t fix XYZ issue. The problem that I run across is that the user expects the system to do things it was not designed to do. The people asking were on the implementation team, and I’ve explained many times that what they want to do is outside the scope of the system, and is in fact against all applicable federal regulations, so it would be illegal to do, but still, I seem to be the problem. This is only one case, but I find that in many cases, the expectation is that IT can fix any and all issues, even to the point of re-programming a 3rd party application to violate federal laws and regulations!

        • #2706034

          On the other hand…

          by gsg ·

          In reply to expectations

          OK, I had to post again, because I don’t want to make it appear that the problem is all one-sided. I’ve also seen situations where the tech support person thinks all users are dumb. What I try to get across is that I’m an expert in my field, and the user is an expert in their field. Should your average Doctor know how to ping a server? No. Neither should I know how to perform an appendectomy. Until people in IT stop thinking of all users as dumb, and look at them as customers with valid questions, we’ll still have a high level of dissatisfaction with Technical support. I have the same problem with a certain large software company, that when I had a problem with a certain service pack (sp2), instead of helping me work through the problem, the answer I got was that I shouldn’t have installed it in the first place. Umm… Do you see the problem with this answer? I was treated like a dumb user, which made me mad, so I told the tech where to stick it and how far. I ended up fixing the problem myself, after weeks of work and after interviewing quite a few of my co-workers.

      • #2705810

        US Company Philosophy

        by macumazahn ·

        In reply to Many reasons contribute

        What I see in most companies is let’s do it all with little or no employees, just came off a project with 25 sites and 5000 computers, and they were attempting to take care of everything with 4 desk top techs and 1 network admin, companies that want computers and the support for them should get real, less is not better, with the best staff in the world continual over work leads to burn out and turn over.

      • #2722125

        Management Expectations rule

        by eelder1 ·

        In reply to Many reasons contribute

        Tech are usually judged by management on how many calls they take, not on customer satisfaction. Customers are often better off researching the question on the Internet first, becuase many of the questions techs recieve are a waste of time. Often the answer is in the Readme.txt file or the manual. Some customers are unable to follow simple directions, others have unrealistic expectations. Retail technical support is a vast wasteland.
        In the long run, a tech must support commercial customers to be gainfully employed. Retail tech support is primarly for newly hired techs

    • #2718717

      Outsourced vs Non-outsourced

      by generalist ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Does the survey differentiate between outsourced and non-outsourced tech support?

      If it doesn’t, then the title of the posting is misleading.

      • #2718656

        The Survey Focused on In-house Support

        by rlast ·

        In reply to Outsourced vs Non-outsourced

        For an excellent example of outsourced support nightmares, do a search for Kyle Killen’s article in Salon.com from feb 23, 2004

        • #2707407

          I read it

          by rrosca ·

          In reply to The Survey Focused on In-house Support

          It’s a great read. And it also seems to provide the answer to your question, no?

          If the company gets paid by calls then the tech that gets the bonus and the promotion is the tech that tells the customer – “sorry, we can’t fix a computer not in its original state” and turns around to take another call with the same answer in hand.

          But seriously, has anyone here ever called Dell, for example? How many times have you hear Dell say “we won’t support a computer that’s not in its original state and configuration”? It has never happened to me, albeit I don’t have to call them all that often.

          One last word about tech support – I no longer work strict tech support but I still do some desktop support and guess where the problems lay 90% of the time? It’s in between the keyboard and the chair. It’s a guy who now has Alexa and Gain and VX2 and Dyfuca all over his machine because he was surfing the wrong sites.

          Tech support has to deal with a lot nowdays. There are millions of software packages, millions of poorly configured networks, millions of viruses, etc. Good tech support probably takes time. Perhaps it’s time someone took a look at how the reinbursment system works and overhaul it in some way. No more pay per volume.

        • #2707377

          A tough job to be sure.

          by dc_guy ·

          In reply to I read it

          The last time my wife called tech support she could overhear someone else in the room dealing with his caller: “OK, now that you’re on top of the desk look behind it and follow the really thick cord that comes out of the back of the computer. Is it plugged into a wall socket?” I give help desk people credit for being able to maintain their sanity.

    • #2718685

      poor support

      by justmakingit ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      if you are asking about telephone support, which comes from call centers, the reason it is so bad is because you have management telling you to get off of the phone after 15 min of speaking with the customer. You will notice that after around the 15 min mark the agent will try to send you to Dell or Microsoft or IBM, anywhere to get you off of the phone due to their handle time.

      • #2718655

        You’re Right-Bad Management

        by rlast ·

        In reply to poor support

        You identified the problem: Bad Managment!

        It’s amazing the number of poor managers in this nusiness.

        • #2718622

          I’ve often said …

          by stress junkie ·

          In reply to You’re Right-Bad Management

          I’ve said many times over many years that American
          business thrives IN SPITE of its management, NOT
          BECAUSE of it.

          I’ve also observed that ALL of the managers that I’ve
          worked with over many years were a LIABILITY to the
          business that employed them.

          Some of the young managers that I’ve worked with
          tried to do a good job but they lacked decision making
          skills and leadership skills. Those were the best of the
          bunch that I’ve met.

          Most older managers play politics with the people
          working for them. The sociopath employee can usually
          become favored by the manager by skillfully kissing
          up. Meanwhile the same person causes havoc on the
          team by making themselves unapproachable using a
          demeanor that suggests that they are about to resort
          to violence when anyone tries to get something done
          that includes them.

          I’ve often said that the so called CIOs can’t tell a pixel
          from a keycap.

          These criticisms to NOT apply to the managers that I
          worked with when I was doing minimum wage work. I
          met some good managers at that level. Of course some
          of them suffered from the same problems but at least I
          met a few good ones on the loading dock. I’ve never
          met a good manager in the office level work
          environment.

        • #2718126

          Thank You!

          by rlast ·

          In reply to I’ve often said …

          Oh God, I love your response!!

          I thought I was the only that thought that way!!

          You are absolutely correct in your assessment!!

        • #2720185

          The DIlbert Principle

          by comptech3 ·

          In reply to I’ve often said …

        • #2707555

          Pay Peanuts get monkeys

          by pabouvier ·

          In reply to You’re Right-Bad Management

          It’s all about money…. Corporate America doesn’t care about anything but the almighty buck…… As a result their hiring less than qualified individuals.

      • #2707508

        Other factors

        by bobbyajr ·

        In reply to poor support

        I agree that managements rush to prop up productivity numbers is one factor in the reason tech support is viewed so poorly, but lets look at the underlying reasons as well.
        Users are being asked to use more sophisticated software and hardware. But, they have no more formal training than they did 5 years ago.
        If management would pry open thier pocketbooks and provide even basic training for users, that would cut down on the BS support calls.
        I cannot tell you how many times I have had a user call with a problem only to have it fixed by a simple reboot.
        Train the users and support calls will dwindle allowing us to focus on the real problems.

        • #2709202

          re Other factors

          by b cat ·

          In reply to Other factors

          I fully agree with Bobbyajr about untrained end users this probably makes up 40% of the problem. Another 45% goes to the poorly designed user interfaces most programs have. Most of these are designed by the programmer, and may work well for someone with his or her knowledge of computers, but the average end user is lost, all software companies should use non-tech users to help design and test new program interfaces.
          The last goes to shoddy programming (Bata release as final) 10%, and the last 5% to a few support members who would rather not deal with people, and abuse the end user.

      • #2707467

        Been THERE, Done THAT…

        by blarman ·

        In reply to poor support

        I used to work for MCI/Worldcom when it was running HP’s support center for Pavilion Desktops and InkJet printers. We were given an entire day (out of 2 weeks) of training that focused on HP’s commitment to the customer and how it should take priority. I was working in a new call center, and our team had the best quality marks in the center.

        Then MCI began cracking down on call-times and I got a new supervisor. 1/2 of our team was fired or left because their call-times were consistently “high”. I left a little later.

        The controversy was that HP’s goals of taking care of the customer didn’t match MCI’s goals of making money – they were paid per call, meaning the more calls we took, the more money they made.

        The problem was the the originating company wanting something, but not being willing to pay for it, and the conflict of opposing business goals between the outsourcer and service provider. It was definitely a management issue.

        Just as with mosst aspects of business, it all starts with management. If you look at the core strategies of the companies in question, you’ll find the reason for the support woes. Until businesses become more focused on the customer than they are on call-times, the situation won’t change.

        And by the way, US workers ARE the most productive in most industries. See:
        http://www.us.ilo.org/regions/uscanada/kilm_03.cfm

        • #2708998

          WorldCom/MCI

          by sangraal ·

          In reply to Been THERE, Done THAT…

          And look at what had been causing this “crunch”. All the while a corrupt center management had been abstracting themselves away from any accountability as well as response to the reason they were even in business to begin with.
          Many are still perpetuating this philosophy of course. Until there is a catch up of the consciousness level to the tech level, we will have this “HICK gone tech CIO, CEO” mentality as they did in the futures and stock market of the late 1980’s. Oh they will ruin it more if we can’t learn how to use our intelligence to overcome our ignorance.

          The money market has now enveloped the tech sector and whenever that happens (farming mentality) the public becomes abstracted away and the commodity will become more important than the purpose of the technology to it’s owners.

    • #2718556

      My 2 cents

      by sullyman ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Most corporations look at internal support as a COST centre vs. outsourced call centres work on for profit basis.

      Most internal call centres are funded through admin or IT budgets, and try to be as lean as possible so as to not be overbudget at the end of the quarter. When companies strickly focus on the dollars service levels usually decline.

      Now, outsourced call centres are a based on a profit model. Service Level Agreements ( SLA’s ) have to be maintained, along with QA, and first call resolution.

      Things won’t change until companies begin to realize that inbound call centres are an integral part of any business, and have to be funded. It’s all about CUSTOMER SERVICE……

      • #2723972

        missing factor

        by jlb7144 ·

        In reply to My 2 cents

        When was the last time you called for HELP!
        Did you get a tech who talked ENGLISH???
        Our calls go all the way to India, etc……
        While you sit and wait.

    • #2718116

      Not sure I understand – but my dime

      by skipperusn ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Ok not 100% sure I understand where you are going but here’s my dimes worth.

      Poor support is caused by a number of variables and its a cycle: (poor support, effects market share, effect budget back to reduced support dollars)

      (Inhouse)
      1* High Turnover – low budgets, Poor management & Micromanagement, Poor/lack of training, Low wages, poor/cheap/no benefits, low morale, overworked, no/lack support tools, increased volume and decrease time alloted per call. (just to name a few items)

      2* low/little Budgets – upper management doesn’t see the need for support – thus first budget cut is support.

      3* Because of lack of support or poor support – product market share goes down – effects budget budget effects #1 – and the cycle starts again.

      Ask Gateway what happened to them … Dell is getting to the same place quickly and a new leader with better support will replace Dell (HP or Sony).

      Outsourced –

      1* Callers language normally not support tech’s primary or first langauge (Communication), SLAs set wrong, support line handles numerous products/vendors, customer anti-outsourcing, low wages, lack/little training, time fixed call (must have call completed in x minutes), lack of administrative authority.

      I was in charge of a inhouse support group – then budget started getting cut – until they outsourced it.

      Was the director of support services – established a career path for employees that wished to migrate out, purcahsed call tracking tools, support portal and establish support database. First call resolution monthly between 89 and 93% (average of 10,000 calls a month).

      Staff could get A+, MCSE, CNE, CNA (classes and tests)paid by company. Call rep would be in the center from 1 to 2 years max before moving on.

      After 3 years management – started cutting budget – training – cert tests – study days – salaries – FTE’s – then they outsourced.

      The last time I heard they were looking to insource it – they lost market share – management woke up and its too late, Elvis had left the building a long time ago.

      So you ask why – Support stinks – put the blame on Management – right at their door steps, and it doesn’t matter if your talking Insourced or outsourced – bottomline – Management is the cause –

      Our support team was great, and technically well educated, turnover was low (1 to 5% per year from promotions). Year budget was high – and so was productivity – but management started screwing around and cut the budget. We got lower education/experience staff (techie stuff), Very High turnover (around 30% to 50% in one year).

      The Problem is Management – Management – Management – Cause and effect Management – but they will never accept that truth – they will blame everything but themselves!

      • #2719574

        You Understand Perfectly!!

        by rlast ·

        In reply to Not sure I understand – but my dime

        Thanks for your response! It was excellent.

        I asked because I’ve been in the support profession for over 10 years and I dispair at the quality of tech support. It has become worse then it was 10 years ago and I sometimes wonder if I’m doing something wrong! Alas, I’ve come to believe that its the incompetent, organization-centric, ignorant executives that are causing the problem.

      • #2720182

        I’ll Buy That For A Dollar…

        by comptech3 ·

        In reply to Not sure I understand – but my dime

        I can vouch for techs not getting sufficient training. When I was at D*ll, one area manager got a fat bonus for saving $60,000 one year. How did he do it? He cut out training on some of the newer products with the thought of, “They can look up the information on the company Web site.”

        • #2707581

          Reality is here

          by bass4g0d ·

          In reply to I’ll Buy That For A Dollar…

          Why managers don?t realize that support quality is one of the most important factors that make customers to become loyal? Does market share influence their decision? In a part it does, but should that be an excuse to freeze things up?

      • #2709188

        Much more to the point

        by b cat ·

        In reply to Not sure I understand – but my dime

        I have mentioned a few other problems it previous post Re other factors, but I must say that your post is much more to the point of the issue. The problem of management fund cutting for important departments is not just a problem for support techs though; it is a problem throughout most of the current business world. The results degrade these companies, but they don?t see it when their competition is just as bad. I strongly feel that If one company would step up to the plate in the old school American tradition, and offer a true quality product, they will go far when their customers see what is being offered.

    • #2707578

      Your off Base

      by came0023 ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      It’s the companies not the tech’s check t mobile they have a contract to support the ipaq 6315 exclusively but are constantly sending people to HP for support .They don’t even have the unit at hp’s call center even if they wanted to help TMOBILE no training makes it hard on everyone

    • #2707574

      You get what you pay for

      by johnofstony ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Any company providing tech support has the choice of highly paid knowledgable experts or cheap phone-minders who can look up common problems in a book or database and regurgitate the contents. My experience in IT is that even the more knowledgeable managers are reluctant to spend money on IT (or anything else, come to that) and a branch of IT that generates no revenue, i.e. tech support, consequently is very low on the list of priority spends so the cheapest personnel are employed for this vital task. Occasionally one finds a company whose tech support is exemplary; Evesham.com (a UK PC and associated services supplier) is an example where I have had superb support. “A company gets what it pays for” seems to be true in this area; so if you want to improve your customer relations, be prepared to invest more in tech support.

      • #2707567

        You nailed it.

        by mail_man ·

        In reply to You get what you pay for

        You hit it right on the head. It’s Indirect vs. Direct. Indirect charges are passed right to the customer. Therefore, you can charged the customer more, pay the employee more and get a more knowledgable employee, but in the field. Direct employees contribute nothing to the bottom line on the balance sheet. They just suck from the bottom line. Therefore, the company is reluctant to justify the higher salaries. So, the support you end up getting at HQ is often pretty sad. I mean, where is their motivation. They get paid a low wage, are expected to work more than 40 hours/week consistantly (or their not a “team player”), but don’t get over time, because they’re also Exempt status.

      • #2707522

        Its the Nature of the Beast

        by pmadiga ·

        In reply to You get what you pay for

        How many folks do you know that want to excel at a low paying job that deals with the self-incurred problems of the ungrateful many. Everyone wants more money for less work and feels their current salary is never equal to “what they really deserve.” Most folks in phone support are looking for other jobs. Most organizations consider phone support a pay grade on par with receptionist. I’ve been in the software industry for over 30 years and have never seen a senior support tech paid on a scale that equals even a junior network tech. The business world is always going to be filled with misconceptions and bias. The skill involved in being a great phone support tech will never get its due. In our society (US) we don’t pay for those who impart knowledge with saintly patience in the face of adversity. Just look at the wages for most teachers, and isn’t that what a good phone support tech is, a patient teacher trying to help you learn how to avoid a similar situation in the future. Personnally, I had little choice. I make twice the money supporting one software product Novell, than I did being a certified expert on over 200 desktop applications in phone support. I would suspect others make the same choice.

      • #2708953

        Cost versus quality versus profits

        by thechas ·

        In reply to You get what you pay for

        We have the low quality of tech support because customers put up with it.

        So long as the market continues to drive down the cost of PCs and software, the quality of manufacture tech support will continue to worsen.

        Either that, or the manufactures will be forced to turn tech support into a profit center.

        In the past, commercial products used to come with unlimited phone support and often a year or more of free on-site support.
        No longer, in order to remain in business, manufactures of commercial equipment now charge for even phone support after the first year.
        For some, software is a leased item, and you must pay an annual fee to continue to use the product.

        For used commercial equipment that requires software, you are often required to purchase a software license and service contract that can cost many times what you paid for the used hardware.

        Now, on the other side of the coin, it is obvious that many companies do not do a good job of testing their products over a wide range of hardware and software configurations.
        When the inevitable deluge of support calls hit, they do not have enough trained staff to deal with customer problems.

        The result of the above is that you have low skilled workers attempting to deal with problems beyond their skill level.

        Until customers are willing to pay the real cost of products;
        Companies are willing to perform complete product testing;
        Shipment dates are determined by the completeness of the product;
        AND, companies are willing to pay for competent support technicians;
        we will continue to have poor tech support.

        Chas

    • #2707573

      Culture of dis-service

      by deadly ernest ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      There are a number of reasons but they add up to a culture of dis-service. The two main culprits are in management:

      a. the non-tech manager of IT – this person is a skilled manager who keeps screwing up as they do not understand enough of IT to comprehend the improtance of what they are told on IT matters.

      b. the non-manager IT manager, this is an IT manager who is a good tech but has no management skills. These are worse than (a) as they constantly put up walls to getting things done. They are more interested in forcing the business to do things their way, than in supporting the business to meet its business needs. A classic example is the idea of ‘forced’ password changes every month or so; have a complex password policy and then force people to change it several times a year, push an IT solution and screw the people, so they can’t remember the passwords and write them down; so who is at fault in having all these passwords written down. They are normal people not memory experts, let them choose a good one and use it for several months, much more secure. Same relates to hardware and software, screw the idea of what best fits the business needs, lets get the best technological gear.

      In both cases you end up with a unit that sees the rest of the organisation as troublemaking obstacles that are damaging the IT owned assets. That’s right forget that without them there is no IT unit and you are all out of work.

      Add in the knowledge and training issues raised by others and you have a problem. Add in the decision to have first level tech support being done by non-tech people with good phone manner and anything outside the basics is impossible for them to fix. Add in the concept that an outside expert just HAS to be better and more professional than anyone internal. No wonder there is no service worth using.

      Then on top of all this add in the fact that damn few tech support areas have a decent set of statements as to what the client support levels, requirements and guidelines are and even less have educated the clients on what to expect. thus the clients expectation far exceed what the tech area is required to deliver, thus making them look bad.

    • #2707572

      User Training

      by bigaldepr ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      The major expenditure of the IT budget is for problem resolution (reactive. Most user have a very limited understanding of the systems they are using. As technology advances, the system change. Most user fit into one of the following catagories: do not want to learn or do not have time to learn.

      A more sensible approach would be to invest in training the users and thus avoid many problems (proactive). IT professionals seldom understand exactly how the users need to use the technology. I believe having superusers that can support IT to resolve problems and refer true system problems to IT is an effective approach. IT is often asked to resolve things that are not really system related. This would eliminate calls that are outside of IT scope.

      On the otherhand IT needs to loose the “it my system and it works the way I say it works” attitude or “its corporate policy”. Superuser should express what is needed in terms of requirements, then allow IT to develop solutions. Most user express needs in terms of perceived solutions that are not seldom practical. “I need access to something so give me administrative rights.” The people that are performing the work and the people that are providing the technology solution to support that work to communicate. The people that are using the technology need to understand how it is to be used.

    • #2707565

      ComputerRepair.com

      by jeff ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Little internal recourse and major cost cutting.

      ComputerRepair.com provides On-site tech support with an average break fix resolution cost of 54.32 per call all inclusive.

      • #2707471

        52% is bad

        by alan ·

        In reply to ComputerRepair.com

        If I ran at 52% first timme resolution, I could never make enough progress to get even just on second time calls!

        My clients get right at 99% first time resolution, outsourcing to you would be a disaster

      • #2708997

        Low %

        by carl ·

        In reply to ComputerRepair.com

        Having stats that low I would not be on the Internet bragging about it.. The other reply to thispost I agree it would be disasterous to oursource to you.. I have a personal first time fix of 90% on average.. there is always something that needs a second look at so I don’t mind saying my percentage… I don’t outsource nor am I an outsourcer .. but I do repair computers onsite and by phone.. keep working at it you might get there someday… yeah I being sarcastic.. even when I worked for a company I still had at a minimum 88 – 95% rate depending on the week and types of calls I recieved still a lot better than your average..

      • #2705945

        Where did you get that %?

        by v.a.milewski ·

        In reply to ComputerRepair.com

        I read the post and I see a dollar amount for cost. I check the website and I see dollar amounts for costs, and estimates of cost savings, but nowhere do I see anything that says a first-call resolution of 52%. What are you two (alan@diggitydan.com and Carl@reddragoncm.com) basing the percentage statement on?

    • #2707561

      From the Support Tech Side, answer lies in the question

      by cappadonna ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Tech support “sucks” for several reason, IMHO.

      1)Most users don’t know what the world they’re talking about and generally rude on the phone. They expect technicians to understand their nonsensical rambling about IT and magically fix their problem. This is especially true with so-called “experts” they’re worse than most non-techs because they’ll jump down a tech’s throat faster b/c “they have x years of experience”. Plumbers don’t have to deal with clients telling them how fix a toilet. But every ISP tech will have some jackass MCSE trying to tell them how to fix their bandwith saturation.

      Personally, I will forcefully tell people to stop yammering and answer some simple questions. Yeah, it can be seem rude at first, but is saves the tech 10 minutes of listening to some irate loon yap about Apache and router handshakes when they called about not connecting to Sendmail. And in the end, the client usually alot less angry since the call took 15 minutes instead of 35 and the issue was fixed.

      2) Techs really aren’t that well trained in general. Most techs pick up stuff as they go along, there is little to no formal training. You learn more from screwing up and bungling than actually being taught. If EMTs and Nurses were trained in the same ad hoc way as Support Techs, we would all die in the emergency room. It IS the Peter Principle in this sense, your brightest technicians were are already talented to begin with since they’re not going to learn too much on the job.

      3) Management pressures. Basically, the typical support tech has to put up with not only angry incomptent clients who don’t fully understand what they’re using, but neurotic managers trying to meet some ridiculous quota. Your constantly monitor to finish calls fast, kiss the clients and management ass and do it with a smile. The Business departments and managers are only concerned about the bottom line and forget that their tech support staff are human beings.

      4) They hours are long, longer than most other IT jobs I have actually worked in. Because irate lusers demand that some geek be in 24/7 to answer their printer questions on New Years eve so they can photocopy their butts, techs work long nasty hours that would make the average union organizer cringe. Hey want to work 45+ hours a week (day and night) and be on call over the weekends to answer questions listed in #1? Then tech support is for you.

      5) Nobody in tech support, except for the masochist, actually want to do the job, because of the 4 reasons listed above. Tech Support is the LOWEST level of IT you can possible work in, besides data entry. Its boring, repetative and generally mundane. And you will have to deal with idiots telling how to do your job. Do it for more than a year, you will start to become cynical and indifferent. For the first few months at my job, I couldn’t listen to phones at home.

      This is particularly true if you have a college degree in any sort of science, business or engineering discipline. Your average first year EE student isn’t going to last too long in tech support since its generally draining and unrewarding work. Most of the guys who got fired or quit at my office were the guys with college degrees in Comp Sci or Business. Why stick around for 3+ years of long hours and nonstop phone jockeying when you can work as a second level developer for a little more money and fewer hours? Or even better, why stay on the phones when you can get an MBA and make more money bossing around other techs?

      Mind you, I actually work in a more relaxed tech support department, but the problems are always the same. Maybe I’m cynical but to answer why does tech support suck, think about what the job requires and have, for the most part, answered you own question.

      • #2709193

        RE: From the Support Tech Side…Another View

        by usaatca2001 ·

        In reply to From the Support Tech Side, answer lies in the question

        I’ve been in IT for over 20 years; the last 11+ months looking for a job when my last one as Network Mgr. was outsourced (not overseas).

        Just about every tech support job I see listed in the classifieds is an entry-level position (not that I’m looking for this position). Even the tech support management positions that are listed are only looking for 1-3 years experience.

        How good do you think tech support is going to be when management doesn’t want to put any money into hiring experienced personnel? IMHO

      • #2709022

        Right on the money -clnicholson

        by carl ·

        In reply to From the Support Tech Side, answer lies in the question

        Average “life-span” of a technician in departments I have worked in is around 6 months some sooner before burn-out. I have done it for 3 years at a major company as was a “Sr. Tech” even some of the new techs don’t realize what they are doing.

        I find your points about the MCSE people calling is right on the money – I have had those bragger’s on the phone and then they did not know where the event viewer was in NT 4 – How did they pass the test? Laywers and Doctors in the New York and New Jersey areas are the worse to have on the phone than IT techs they are demanding and will not nor can they follow simple instructions in order to fix their computer problems they all want the magical wand to appear from the phone and fix their computer woes.

        You are far from cynical just being honest and factual about the question at hand.

        Managers are also a big problem many of them in a call center have never been a tech nor have they ever taken a phone to resolve a computer problem yet they “know” how long it should take on a call because they are the manager.. IMHO – If you have never been a tech then you should not be a manager in the tech support business because you can not understand the in’s and out’s of tech support and what a tech needs to actually do to accomplish their job – an underpaid and unappreciated position in the IT arena.

    • #2707558

      Right on the money and right on the people

      by ibm5081 ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Tech support is usually staffed with entry level folks due to the pay scale. The result is script-reading and repetition of the FAQ. They don’t actually understand the problem, they just recognize a few of the words and look them up in the database.
      [in the same way that HR does not evaluate resume’s, just look for keywords].
      Level 0 or level 1 filters most of the calls, escalating the most insistent or angry callers to level 2,3,4,5…higher numbers to imply greater intelligence, sometimes.
      As others have said, support is an overhead cost to be minimized/outsourced in various ways. Cryptic documentation and beta software are valid reasons as well.
      Looking at the flip side, the number of pseudo-technical users is increasing. The expectation is that a download or CD can be seamlessly installed is growing. Hardware is all plug-and-play, whether it’s compatible or not. Drivers – what are those?
      Why should I pay a geek to get it running properly, I can read the instructions as well as anyone. With falling system prices, I can get a modern PC for substantially less than $1,000.
      All it takes is money to be an expert and I expect the tech support to educate me. How hard can it be?
      The user-friendliness sells more systems, so product sales looks great on the balance sheet. Problem is that sales meets their quotas and obtains their commission/bonus while support (usually under another manager) sees nothing but expense.

    • #2707557

      Please read

      by dicklaw ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      The problem has always been that the tech rep does not read the entire complaint/message.

      • #2705929

        No absolutes

        by v.a.milewski ·

        In reply to Please read

        The problem isn’t “always” any one thing. I cannot count the number of users who think they have told me everything that I need to know when they say “I got an error message”. Nothing about what it says, or what app they were using, just that they got an error message. How does that mean that I didn’t read or hear their entire complaint?

    • #2707547

      Morale, Greed, Change.

      by Anonymous ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Low morale is a factor. With “cost-cutting measures”, techs don’t feel secure in their jobs, and when your company isn’t loyal to you, it’s hard to be loyal to your company.

      The greed factor plays in as well. A few years ago IT was the “it” the new California gold rush. So tons of greedy people did what was necesary to get their certs, so they could land a cushy IT job and pull down the big $’s. Problem is, passing the cert. tests didn’t make them competent. They just became certified idiots. They don’t have a love for the technology, and they certainly don’t have a core understanding of it.

      Too much change also plays a role. It’s hard to keep up with the product lifecycles nowdays. And much of what is being added/changed is bells and whistles instead of truly useful, enabling kinds of things.

    • #2707537

      missing information

      by husp1 ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I have found most of the answers here hit on the correct issues and then fill up with personal beefs afterword. Managment is always the problem in this type of issues. a) they never seem to find the time or effort to support the lower trained and underpaid side of the office. most time when a cust. service rep deals with a manager he’s getting his butt chewed or fired. b) When a cust. service rep. shows a bad attitude from working at a “underpaid” position his attitude tends to be forced onto the user,(the I don’t have time for this approach) thus the user is blamed and I have met very few trained users most are self taught thus providing a vast amount of errors witch are their fault at some level. c) software… well what can I say except that there is an abundance of “crapware” out there that was rushed out without proper testing. D) Inhouse traing, Everybody seems to have forgoten this little item, How can a servive rep help someone else on an item he has little experiance with? This is most common with software complaints. most issues are on a FAQ listing but if the issue gose beyond that the the problem gets passed off. (it’s HP’s or M$ issue) It seems to me once again that a vast amount of mismanagment is the big problem all the way around.

      • #2707534

        Not even entry level techs.

        by cerebral*origami ·

        In reply to missing information

        Many if not most of your call centers are not staffed by techs. They are staffed by slightly-higher-than-minimum wage people who’s only requirement is that they can read a computer screen and maintain their cool when dealing with an angry customer. That’s why when you call with a problem they HAVE to take you through the steps that appear on their screens.
        Example: I called Gateway about a computer that had smoke pouring out of the power-supply when I turned it on. (Obviously they did not even test this system before shipping!) The support person demanded that I turn it on and go through all his steps (checking bios etc.)!

        • #2707514

          Education

          by admin ·

          In reply to Not even entry level techs.

          Most of the tech support people do not have a related tech degree. Thus having less technical knowledge. All techs I knwo at my company are either self taught or have a 2 year degree.

          Secondly, AFAIK the level 2 tech support is usually not outsourced. If we are talking about Level 1 support, then yes, it usually is reading standard notes.

      • #2707241

        How I get around no in house training….

        by itguyy ·

        In reply to missing information

        “How can a servive rep help someone else on an item he has little experiance with?”

        After 10 years of this type of support I can tell you the way I get around it is I learn quick, keep the best resources at my finger types (IE its not what you know, but where and how quickly you can find the answers), and then I memorize anything I’m sure I’ll need again. There will be delay on the first call sure, but after that the answer is quickly available.

        I also offer my users simple humility in that I readily admit when I don’t know or am not certain, but then fight to figure it out and let them know what I’ve found quickly.

        The fun part is when someone calls from the other side of the world and you know immediately what’s wrong from the symptom’s you’ve seen 100 times, and management stops the process asking if you’ve “Triaged” or “how much work” you put into this issue. Usually after its obvious even to MSCE’s that money needs to be spent….

    • #2707531

      You get what you pay for…

      by jjlov ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      There are a variety of reasons, (as can be seen from the replies here). But the core reason is – people want everything for the lowest cost. Users want low cost software and don’t want bother to learn how to use it. Management wants cheap user support and not to have to pay for training. Vendors don’t want to pay for experienced developers and tech support people. Management wants managers that speak MBAeze and can put together nice looking statistics and could care less about technical competence. And 99% of the corporate world is more concerned with CYA and short-term cost reduction rather than doing their job well. Welcome to America!

      • #2707108

        Yep…we think alike on this issue…

        by tomsal ·

        In reply to You get what you pay for…

        I agree with you.

        I think its only natural that you are not going to have quality in the area of support when management doesn’t want to invest dollars in it. Its something me and my associate (who is the “other” IT tech) were saying yesterday…”they” want top-notch service, but they don’t want to pay for it. They expect fancy new databases — but they don’t want to pay for the new hardware it requires or the expertise of a well-trained developer to build it, they want all these “features” in a software package on every machine in the company but when we tell them what the costs are they balk at it.

        I know this forum isn’t read by many CIO level or higher folks..but just in case read this line: “HOW THE HELL WE SUPPOSED TO GIVE YOU ALL YOUR QUALITY IN SERVICE, ALL YOUR FEATURES, IF YOU EXPECT US TO DO IT WITH NOTHING IN THE WAY OF BUDGETS, SALARY INCENTIVES OR RESOURCES!!!!!!”.

        thanks.

        later. 😉

    • #2707529

      Give us a break!!!

      by lcave ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I am a 25-year IT vetran. I have worked on helpdesks, set up helpdesks and supervised helpdesks. The unresolves should be 5% at the first level; that is a 95% success rate. My helpdesks were just about 100% successful and I’ll tell you why.

      I, for one, am so tired of dealing with first level (and sometimes even second level) support personnel that cannot speak English and are trained only to read from manuals. These people don’t have a clue as to how the equipment or software works. What’s worse, they have no field experience and certainly no problem hanging up if the call becomes too difficult. I am trying not to deal with companies who outsource their support to other countries. If we all did that it might help.

      The bottom line is this: when an IT dept./person calls support. They have already been through the first level and are fully-qualified to read the manual or knowledge base. For heaven’s sake, we have already done this.

      First level needs to be trained in the use of the product. Perhaps the “suits” need to get their support people out in the field to work with actual end-users to see how the product is installed, where the user-error lies, and learn where the problems of the product occur.

      Until this is done, we will continue to see support deteriorate. Take ArcServe…they have lost their marketshare to Veritas, why? The two products are almost exactly alike, ArcServe is actually cheaper. Veritas has better support. The same is happening to Dell…they build a great box, but long hold times and intolerable first level support will begin to hurt them. Even though Dell builds an excellent box, I wouldn’t use them if they were free.

      Hardware and software manufacturers sit up and take notice!!!

      Linda

    • #2707528

      Are the managers going to respond?

      by dc_guy ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      The overwhelming consensus on this issue seems to be: The managers are at fault. They’re incompetent, untrained, mean, manipulative, dishonorable, and short-sighted. Did I miss anything?

      A lot of managers subscribe to this journal. There is a Republic for IT management and even one for CIOs. I doubt that TechRepublic would bother publishing them if no one was reading them.

      So where are they? In 30 postings there are about three from managers, who for the most part think of themselves as mavericks and agree with the consensus. Why aren’t the other 99 percent of the managers speaking up for themselves, explaining why they do what they do, to help us see their side of the story?

      Don’t they want to become part of the professional community, help build a consensus on important issues, learn from the experiences of others, and anticipate future problems before they occur? No? Could it be that they think “fooling around on bulletin boards” is a total waste of “company time”? Something that can’t possibly have a bearing on next quarter’s P&L statement?

      Silence speaks volumes.

      • #2707518

        I think the thread answers your question…

        by rgtx ·

        In reply to Are the managers going to respond?

        They’re still trying to figure out the difference between a key cap and a pixel. :o)

      • #2707237

        Managerial Silence to this discussion…

        by itguyy ·

        In reply to Are the managers going to respond?

        Probably searching around on the floor for the token that must have fell out when the network cable was unplugged?

        How about this one, pulled the fire alarm to avoid suffication when an ethernet cable was found unplugged?

        Or Maybe they feel like men joining a woman’s study course in college for how harse this discussion has been. My managers here try to do whatever their CIO tells them. They take deep breaths every time a decision comes down… Some problems start at the top and just continue on down…

    • #2707523

      Reply To: Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      by antonpesch ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Bollocks ! Outsourcing is merely a opportunity for capitalist pig scumbags to exploit poorly paid workers in other countries, whilst putting people over here out of work. Vermin !!!!

    • #2707517

      Corporate culture and high level management is the problem.

      by acurreri ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I deal with all the vendors. I support 5 different databases on 3 different platforms. Companies like Oracle and CA do a poor job at support. Their primary goal is to close the case regardless of if you are satisfied or not. They often throw ill-relevent busy work at you just to put the case in a status of “waiting on the customer”, and they don’t escalate cases fast enought, to a higher level of support, if they don’t have the expertise. Companies like BMC and Microsoft do an excellent job of support. They take ownership of the problem and stay with you until you are satisfied. You quickly get to the right person to get the correct answer, Even if their software is not the direct cause. They are also focused on the real problem and don’t waste your time. It’s a management, corporate culture and training issue. Not on off-shore on-shore issue.

    • #2707515

      Money vs Support

      by rbncs ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      In my opinion the reason that Tech-support is so bad is due to the idea that all organization must turn a profit. Since the bottom-line is the all consuming aspect of any organization we focus more on making money than keeping client satisfied. The concept of customer service or support has been sacrificed on the alter of an ever increasing push for higher profits and lower over-head. As a result we have less qualified personnel manning the phones in an effort to resolve issues they know nothing about. By keeping a lower standard for support personnel they are able to pay less and charge more, thus they meet the requirements that satisfy the sacrifies to the all mighty buck at the expense of the client.

    • #2707511

      Out=sourced or in-sourced, doesn’t matter

      by rexworld ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Tech support is not a glamorous field, it’s never gonna attract the best people.

    • #2707504

      Competence and Bad Management!

      by loadmaster ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Ok…there’s so much here.
      I do all the Tech Support for a 100 user office. It’s a Corporate Headquarters so the demand for great Tech Support is off the scale. Politics too.

      I also do all the tech support for the Sales and Safety Reps on the road. This adds up to over 150 users and machines to administer. (plus Office gadgets of all types)
      I’ve got 10 years experience doing this and I have been trained by 2 fantastic Fortune 100 Companies. This is what I’ve noticed:

      By far the biggest problem is with Tech Support is bad management. This is not so much in the F100 Companies I’ve served, but in the other Companies I’ve served.
      It cost time and money to invest in Customer Service Skills. (SO THEY THINK). And, Companies don’t have much of that these days…especially in IT. (AGAIN..SO THEY THINK). But it ends up costing all of us more in the long run…

      To make a long story short (my phone is ringing off the hook right now), Corp America is in desperate need of an attitude change. Give IT people 3 things and the problems end:

      1) Supreme Customer Serivce Soft Skills. (teach an attitude)
      2) Extreme Competence in Technical skill sets.
      3) Support, Ecnouragement and bodacious COMRADERY between co-workers.

      I.E…Corporate America needs to quit worrying about driving down the costs of IT (salaries included) and focus on driving up the morale and support of IT people. Again, this is more in attitude and not so much money. It costs them in the long run if they don’t.
      But this will take a fundamental shift in the of Corporate -attitude-.

      It costs nothing to promote good will and take a little extra time to teach your troops something new each day. (both Technically and Soft Skills)
      Only then will IT Support skyrocket into overdrive and produce the results Corporate Management is so desperately trying to attain through driving down “costs”.

      It “costs” more in the long run. I find that most IT people love people and their jobs. It’s just that they are undertrained, overworked and undersupported. Knowing this, why do we even ask ourselves why Tech Support sucks so bad these days? We can’t even breathe!!

      I’d write more but ‘Demand’ calls!

      Thanks!

    • #2707503

      Bigger picture

      by pedwards17 ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Unfortunately, this trend of lousy support/service goes far beyond tech support. It seems that vendors of all kinds have given up on trying to provide quality service becaue they know we’re at their mercy. It’s truly sad.

    • #2707490

      Why are EU so stupid?

      by 33prism33 ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Obviously, many of you whiners have never done phone support. Most end users are so ignorant of the OS and the applications involved in their work that they cause many of the problems they are calling in about. Add to that a profound inability to provide pertinent/relevant information and to follow directions, it is a wonder anything gets resolved in a timely manner. The added bonus of doing this type of work is the stress provided by having to work within a limited time frame and surly customers. I’m pretty burned out from this type of situation and hope never to have to do it again.

    • #2707477

      poor in-house support

      by alan ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I have been on both ends of in-house support and do not like either one. As a user needing some solution, the non-listening tech support could invariably provide the wrong answer. As tech support, the user could invariably supply the wrong information.

      It appeared then, as now, that proper training for support personnel to CARE about the individual problem and be allowed to have ample time to pull out the needed information is a critical factor.
      Current business environment rules are to estimate the amount of time, and therefore cost, to correctly handle each problem and then reduce the target or goal time to about half of that.

      The individual pride of work has been forced into get rid of the problem over solve the problem. A good work ethic in the hands-on community is punished as inefficient.

      Having read some of the comments on management and some about the individual work ethic, both are correct yet neither one is correct. I worked 30 years in the mainframe user arena in management. My management would routinely call for cost reduction, cut training budgets, and bitch about poor quality of work performance.

      The solution is CORPORATE america has lost the care value for other than the bottom line, an important feature, but the work force no longer is considered an intelligent group.

    • #2707475

      Wrong perception of the IT industry in general.

      by aleksm ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      1. Information Technology was derived from electronics and mathimatics. The electronic engineers and mathmaticians were initially behind it. As it evolved and became more accessible via GUI to the general public and with mass production of certifications lots of people saw an oportunity to make money in it thinking it was easy without having any relavent education. Business management who has had no clue about the complexity of what makes it “click” were hiring just anybody with minimal knowledge during the BOOM time.
      2. Now we’ve got the fallout – very few know execaly what they are doing. To be a successful IT engineer one must have foundation in electronics, telecommunications and math.
      Any certification is only good if one posseses the fundumentals.
      3. Inidia and China hire engineers with solid engineering education for the IT industry and not quick-trained MCSE, CCNA, programmers, DBAs -teachers, shoe makers, pianists, economists, traders and so on – the list is too long.

    • #2707470

      Get help

      by ddvg ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Non-outsourced support may be poor for many reasons. But, what you have to quantify is what attributes to this perception. Then systemmatically address the problems.

      In many cases, it is bad because the service is ‘free’. With internal support groups not charging for the work, there’s no measure of how much IT costs, how to be more efficient, etc.

      There is help. Check out the IT Infrastructure Library, (ITIL) a set of best practices for IT, and Service Delivery processes.

      • #2721460

        get help… from certified people

        by p-ed ·

        In reply to Get help

        In my experience, bad service is mostly due to to lack of communcation and as such, expectation mismatch.
        And that is were ITIL plays also an important role. It helps to bring structure in the processes which drive an the IT’s organisation.
        Not only the financial aspect, but also in handling incidents, problems, changes.. or putting up availability,capacity,Service level management.. All with 1 goal, to get IT focussed on the business, for the business. Now before you jump into the books, ITIL Service Delivery and Support will tell you what to do, not how to do it! That’s why getting people on board and the willingness to adapt/adopt ITIL throughout the IT silo’s, will get you the kick needed.
        My 2 cts.
        Ed

    • #2707466

      Know your customer

      by adrianjgomes ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Knowing your customer and knowing that he’s paying your bills is something everyone has lost sight of.

      Whether you have your own resource for IT or it’s outsourced, the Majority lack the vision of the customer, the client or the end user. The reason you?re doing what you’re doing is because of them.
      Unfortunately most individuals today in our society have taken their lead from our honoured and respected business leaders. Profitability at whatever it takes. Business cycles are exactly that. But never mind the holistic, as long as someone is paying your bills at minimum expected deliverables, so be it. Of course the ones that please are also the ones that get it and in the long run, progress at a rapid rate.

      Society and not your resource is responsible for the degradation of service levels across the board.

    • #2707465

      Bottom Line: Cost!

      by george.phelps ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      We just completed a migration of our desktop support to an outsourcing deal. The only justification was COST of our internal help desk. Other justifications such as “quality” improvement were kinda placed aside when our own help desk was rated independently as A- with “industry standard” being at a C. Our outsourced desktop support’s goal was a C+. The last rating under outsourcing was a C- and falling. What is the COST of diminished productivity for our users?

      Signed DoD

    • #2709214

      Because Level 1 Support is ALWAYS entry level…

      by mdpetrel ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      The answer to this question is simple: Level 1 support is always entry level. Actuarially speaking, there are SO MANY calls that can be answered by a mere “check to see if it’s plugged in” type of response that mgmt decided long long ago to make the job req’s for this: anyone with a pulse who can recite from a list of scripted responses…. period.

      The real insult (something none of you reading this post may be aware of) is that the poor saps working the phone receive job ratings based on how quickly they can mark a call as resolved (even if the problem is NOT resolved); so they feverishly race to find the closest thing they can to match your call against in their list of “typical” problems. Then, they mark it as complete, close out your problem ticket, and move on to the next problem. Voila! Corporate reports that they have a strikingly high success / satisfaction rate… which, of course, is emphatically not true.

      There is no way to deal with this. To get your problem resolved via tech support, you must go into the venture knowing that you will spend the first several minutes getting past all the “did you check to see if it’s plugged in” line of questionning. Then, politely ask to be bucked up to the next level; then expect some days will go by before you get satisfaction.

      There are business gurus who have been on the presentation circuit for decades telling these companies how to improve their tech support; but these gurus are still touring, because none of these companies have ever listened to how to give adequate tech support.

      Sorry…. 🙁

    • #2709196

      Good Reason

      by mowens ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      The main reason I feel that it is so bad is because they do not get the proper training before the job and on the job for the software the company uses.

    • #2709195

      bad outsourced tech support

      by jonesy100000 ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I think it is because outsourced tech support doesn’t have a stake in the company. They are basically hired guns. As long as they get paid they don’t care.

    • #2709194

      Take a close look at the actual problem

      by fasebit ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I came to this company when the IT department had totally disintegrated. tech support was so bad that the different departments depended on consultants to help them. They hired me to turn this around and the first thing I did is sit down with management to find out their goals. I also found out that they were trying to run the IT department as a profit center and that will never work. I sat down with them, put together a realistic budget and was able to hire the right type of staff. I then concentrated on Customer service, standardizing, documenting and upgrading the infrastructure and we have had a very good rating from all the departments for the last 2 years (I have been here about 2and 1/2 years). I believe that the problem is not necessarily with the tech support people but in how they are managed.

      • #2708974

        I agree.

        by waybrig ·

        In reply to Take a close look at the actual problem

        Leadership is extremely important. It sounds like you have the ability to recognize/reward talent, weed out the deadbeats, and motivate the people in between. Can I come work for you?

    • #2709183

      What do you expect?

      by vpepe2 ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Here are reasons why help desk support is not too good:
      Items contributing to the problem.
      1. Software that is too complicated for the average non-technical user to understand.
      2. Too many hardware configurations for the average non-tech user to cope with.

      What is wrong with help desk support:
      1. Low pay and entry level job.
      2. First level people don’t know much beyond
      what is in their scripts.
      3. First level people being in other countries.
      Accents make some calls difficult.

      The problem will not go away unless software is more bullet proof and installs on more hardware without incident. It would be good if a cheaper, stripped down version, of some products were available. I own Microsoft office but only use 10-15% of the features in the differnt modules.

      • #2709168

        Bells & Whistles = More to Break

        by rknrlkid ·

        In reply to What do you expect?

        You brought up a good point. Most software (and hardware too) is so complicated now that it is no longer in the realm of user-friendly. Windows XP is an excellent example. The majority of features are cool, but if something goes wrong (i.e., click the wrong box or button!) and repair is outside of the grasp of the average user.

        Personal computing was a revolution because the original PC was somewhat understandable if a little time and study was put in. It wasn’t real novice friendly, but you could learn the twists and tweaks of the various software packages. Now, software is trying to be novice friendly, but is a bear-trap waiting “under the hood.”

        Since most people use their high end, high speed computers to type letters, almost everything is overkill.

    • #2709163

      Root Cause of the Problem

      by bigboss ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Your question actually implied that the out-sourced support are OK. Actually, it is not.

      The real reason is that the IT solutions are over sold by IT professionals to unsuspecting customers. Let’s consider an automobile, the number of parameters a driver has to know how to control, and their consequences of each input, e.g. pressind down on the brake paddle, are very obvious, understandable, immediately observable, and controllable. The execution of that action is simple and understandable, and consistent (same action everytime, on any car, truck, van.), and there is only one way to do it. That’s a bit different from dealing with computers, e.g. changing the resolution of the monitor – it’s a multi-step process, different on different os, and there may be multiple ways to do the same thing on the same machine. The results are not always observable, and certainly not immediate. The rationel behind such an action is not intuitive. The actions may not produce the result you expected. etc. etc. If the automobile takes a century for the general public to use well 50% of the time by 50% of the people, what chance we have to make the general public to use computers well in a few decades.

      Therefore, we have the situation of a basic problem of a complicated piece of equipment which is not understood by its intended target audience, who is poorly equip to operate the equipment, you have a pending disaster.

      A good driver with a nice car is still useless if the driver don’t know where he/she is going, and what for, by what time, and which route to take. But thst’s exactly what many computer users are. I have seen people using a spreadsheet software to prepare a balance sheet who has not idea what a balance sheet is for, the rules governing the operation, what care he/she should take to ensure the correctness of the information on the sheet, and why is he/she doing it. I have review a program written by an engineer to try to predict, using linear regression, with three data points – an obvious waste of time. Knowing how to make a software work does not make you an expert in the job you are doing – you need the subject matter expertise. But the IT profession, probably assume every user has the proper expertise, e.g. linear regression, and therefore did not warn the management of their customers or clients about the knowledge gap.

      Let’s face it, the computer and software is still too complicated for the general public. Computers and software are improving. The general public are getting more sophisticated. But the gap is still great. It will take a few more decades to bridge that gap. May be an automatic transmission will appear some day, so that we don’t have to clutch and shift. Right now we still have to double clutch to shift gear. But we still don’t know why we need to shift gear. We were just told that’s what we need to do if we don’t want to loose our last 10 hours of work.

      On top of the basic problem of mismatched knowledge and skill requirements, there is that quality problem, and lack of standardization. When most program uses the same user interface to accomplish similar things, and all actions act as advertized everytime, and gives immediate feed back to the users about what’s being done, what’s not accomplished, and what are the results, in a consistent and standard manner, just like location of the brake paddle is at the same place on all cars, and do the same thing all the time, and you can see when it’s working and when it’s not, we will have some hope of solving this problem.

      In addition to these problems, the internal service organization have another structural problem – mismatch responsibility with resources. Most of the internal servicing organization gets their resource (e.g. budget) from the corporation, and other branches of the corporation uses the resrouce. In most cases, the service costs are not charged back. Even when the service is charge, most organization would only charge the variable cost, not the startup and sunk costs. When an organization can use resources from elsewhere and not having to pay for the total cost, or not paying at all, it will use the free or cut-rate resources to the max. It may not be done concienciously, but the cost factor certainly do not weigh too much at decision time. In such a situation, the value generated from utilization of the resources will be suboptimal, may even be non-existent. Therefore, investing in these internal serviceing organization will not bring about high rate of return. Budget increment to enhance these internal services are therefore hard to justified. When you have a run away demand drain on a resouce with limited budget, you are asking for trouble. Therefore, there is no way an internal service center, without charging the total cost of the service, can provide service level demanded by it’s customers.

      The trouble with the situation is that the management of the internal service organization are really impotent in solving this problem. They don’t have the clout. Giving them the budget to do so will not help either – it just make the situation worse.

      Total cost recovery is not the solution either. It create a monopoly, who will charge whatever they want, and become inefficient. Making them compete with external service providers will kill the internal service organization, unless they have the power, like the external service organization, to refuse doing business with an internal organization, which gets too ugly.

      These problems are not unique to the internal IT shops. But the IT shop face additional problem. Organization can use only so much paper. If you provide paper to them free, they will misuse them, but will reach a point when using paper up cost them too much. There doesn’t seems to be a limit in use of IT resouces. I haven’t seen a case of that yet. Moreover, IT is still too complicated for the general management, and therefore the excuse: “IT made me do it” is easily accepted by higher management. Managers will not try to better utilize IT unless their job depends on it.

      So, the trouble of internal IT service organization, hence the trouble with services they provide, is structural. Good IT management can help, but only to a point. IT professionals need better technology to make IT simple. General management has to understand computers and software better to know what they can do. Users need more subject matter expertise to know how to do the sophisticated stuff in their field. Organizations has to change the way they look at internal services, and organize their organizational structure, as well as their costing and budgeting practices, to reduce the problem they have.

    • #2709152

      It’s a depth and Breadth problem

      by michael.becker ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Whil I have not read every reply I think this question has taken an interesting Work Ethic, work class philosophy flavor I want to go answer the question in another way.

      Tech support is based on the depth and bredth of technical skill and knowledge. I believe most in-house organizations tend to have more depth of knowledge and skill their working technologies while most outsourced Tech Support have a greater breadth of skill and knowledge in their commercial technology.

      Business is currently driven to open standards and common applications so a set of general applications support many common yet specific business needs. This broadens the the applications an end users uses beyond the skill and knowledge that in house tech support can provide but most out sourced tech support may not have the depth of knowledge or skill to support a product in a specific environment.

      The basic way to solve this problem is to give both tech support organization time to develop but the sheer number of applications being developed and sheer number beig sold prohibits that allocation of time.

      We don’t get the help we want or many times the help we need. We get what we get. Life is hard.

    • #2709151

      Penny wise Dollar Foolish

      by andrew.lawton ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      It seems as though there is a lot of good support in the US, however when it is outsourced to India and other areas – the only motivation seems to be the supposed bottom line dollar for some companies. Many companies figure that paying a good tech in the US isn’t worth the extra money when in fact it helps generate sales. So along comes the inexpensive help desks with poor scripts and techs that can’t think outside the box without a script.

      Call the problem – comapnies inability to see the big picture and not just immediate $$$,

    • #2709140

      Very Few Are Willing To Pay For It.

      by admin ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      On the open market, most companies (and individuals) including mine will not pay for good tech support until they absolutely can’t do anything else.

      It’s not pro-active, it’s not long term smart, but it does compete with our competators.

      If any company reasonably raises the cost of a printer or OS to include great tech support they will go out of business in a hurry- or else only develop into a niche market. It’s not the companies driving this- it’s the consumers.

    • #2709128

      Follow the money…

      by nicknielsen ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      In too many call centers, first-level tech support is provided by low-wage script readers (telemarketers get paid more). The only training they receive is in reading the script. They cannot deviate from the script to help the customer, regardless of their personal knowledge or experience, but must pass the call up to level 2 support after the customer coughs up the big bucks.

      As near as I can see, the primary cause for this is the focus on the corporate equivalent of instant gratification–this quarter’s dividend–instead of long-term return. What brought this on? The bean-counters that are now running these companies are trying to keep the stockholders with the most money (and therefore the most power) happy. Who are they? Our retirement funds…

      Need I say more?

    • #2709121

      Call centre ideology flawed

      by rotherydaverubbs ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I’ve worked on an helpdesk where we where proud of the service we gave, calls where owned by the call logger, and we ensured that when a call was allocated to another technician/3rd party, that we followed up progress and ensured that the caller was kept notified.
      The team I worked with was replaced by a centralised service (call centre). The SLA’s that the new call centre worked to where far more relaxed than our old standards, the new people on the call centre where thrown together, managed by someone that knew more about statistics and SLA’s than actual customer service.
      The net result was of course, angry users.
      The problem is the narrow minded Directors/Finance managers that cannot see any further than the bottom line. In a business it’s possible to improve the training of users within an organisation, so that calls to the helpdesk/call centre are reduced and productivity of the business increases.
      Where this cannot be done, ie where the users are the general public, producing software that has 100 more functions than the last version only alienates the user. Not only that, but because of the size of the software, much larger teams have to work on it, more errors, more testing etc. With a larger team, there as to be more control measures, more managers and hence more communication layers that people have to trawl through to get a problem resolved.
      What’s also needed is software that is simple & intuitive to use, structured so that the novice can easily find what they need (including help files not written by a programmer!!), but also configurable so that more advanced users can access the extra functionality.
      There is a problem in today?s society; it’s the “It’s not my problem” attitude, where everyone is quick to blame someone else, to look for the easy way out. People need to take responsibility for their actions, be proud of the good work they do. Sometimes it’s easier to get rid of people’s jobs to save money; it’s far harder to help people change, to ensure that they feel they are valued.
      Glad I got that off my chest, now how do I change the world?

    • #2709100

      Management has nothing to do with it

      by shimtest ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      If you sell software or hardware to a million customers they will use it a million different ways. If you think you have an off the cuff answer to every problem those million customers will have you’re crazy.

    • #2709076

      Bad tech support

      by esyco ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I often am the last resort in handling technical problem escalations. I see a number of problems: 1. tech support people are measured on how much time is spent on each call, so they try to provide a quick answer and hang up; 2. starting salaries are low, so less inexperienced people take these jobs; 3. training is inadequate – tech support reps don’t know the product well enough and also don’t know what questions to ask and what logs to request; many applications are becoming more complex – we are now dealing with many more factors, including user interface, database, program logic, communications software, etc., in addition to connectivity hardware and services; 5. some support reps don’t think out of the box enough – often, a customer has difficulty describing the problem, states the problem incorrectly, or describes a symptom that could be caused by a number of different problems – again, with some experience, the support rep could dig deeper by asking the right questions and possibly arrive at the real cause. In the end, the problem is due to inexperience, since an experienced support person would know what questions to ask and be able to handle the problem on the first or second call.

    • #2709071

      It Comes Down to Accounting Principles and Management Attitudes

      by jthomson60016 ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      In a nutshell, modern accounting principles define everything as either an expense or an income source. All income source line items are to be maximized (and all the people involved with them to be rewarded) and all expense line items to be minimized (and everyone involved therein to be marginalized!).

      The top guy at every company has that attitude, and rewards and punishes everyone in the company based on those principles because of what it does to the share price, on which his pay and bonus are based. We’ve seen lately to what lengths CEO’s will go to inflate their bonus!

      Because Tech Support is an expense item, Management has the attitude from the CEO down to the Help Desk Manager, that absolute minimums be spent on it. Thus, minimum staffing. Minimum pay scales within the IT sector. Interchangable parts (the techs); minimal training; minimal support; minimal everything!

      IT Support and Help Desk activities are by definition, a BAD THING. The results are predictible.

      Mr. Been There and Done That

    • #2709070

      OOhhh I know.

      by garion11 ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Maybe the Help desk techs just suck. LMAO.

      But all joking aside, the problems/issues helpdesk can fix is restricted by the policies of the company. Most help desk users do not have access to log on as admin, no remote support yet (although with XP thats changing fast), time limit (current help desk I have to deal with has 8 mins to fix the issue, otherwise it forwards the call to second level), and of course competence. Just my 2 cents.

    • #2709056

      Just a note re: Management…

      by kdwyer ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      In 1980 the average American CEO earned about 40 times the lowest paid worker…

      In 1990 they earned over 85 times as much…

      In 2000 they earned about 535 times as much…

      Where is the incentive to provide “service”?

      • #2709017

        aol in ’97

        by igotspamed ·

        In reply to Just a note re: Management…

        a long time ago when modems were 33k, the vga was
        super and tech savy folk were concidered exotic
        and were rarely seen in public places, you could
        call an aol csr with a problem and the problem
        would have been solved. usually with incredible
        accuracy and astounding ease. it is a shame that
        satirical paradigms based on arogant butheads
        scoffing the questions of the culture sterile
        braindead. nobody uses the phone anymore.

    • #2709027

      Fix it right the first time??

      by carl ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      The reason tech support is so bad – I have worked in that area for a number of years. Management is the biggest part of the problem. In some cases a call can not always be completed in 10 min. for a first time resolution – if you meet that congrats you were luck with the calls you recieved. Calls received are luck of the draw for time length. There are now many novice users as well as improperly trained techs handling the calls.

      Not all Americans have a good work ethic – in many cases it is politics as to whether or not a tech gets a key position not on their knowledge and experience. When this happens it lessens the quality of the support. In some case as one person stated already the long “line” of options to get to a live person is difficult and then when you do they don’t knwo what they are doing. Many “techs” I have talked to on the phone are quick to try and transfer you to another department they do not listen – Listening is a key that many tech do not or have not learned.

      Tech support is a department that does not make a company money so companies make techs get off the line before anything is fixed or not.. thus customer satisfaction drops through the floor and management will not fix the problem by getting qualified people into the department to fix customer issues.

      It breaks down to management not want to spend money and cut into their pocketbooks. Too bad if you have good tech suport you can make larger profits because people will buy your products because of their tech support people are knowledgeable..

    • #2709020

      Inside Info from a call center supervisor.

      by randyhck ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      As a supervisor in a non-outsourced call center I can tell you what I’ve experenced. Our technical support people are some of the most qualified people in the technology industry. One of the biggest problems we face daily is one of attitude and work ethic. I read someones comment stating we have the strongest work force in the world in this country. We also have the worst work ethic going. Reminds me of the old joke about the manager telling an employee “I wish I had 10 employees just like you…….Instead of the 30 I have now” We’ve reached the point in our country where we believe we “deserve” the world and everything in it and that unless we’re paid what we “believe” we’re worth we don’t have to give a days work for a days pay. Workers are tardy when our system demands we have certain numbers to meet our customers needs at certain times. The word commitment isn’t in many of their vocabularies. As to attitude…..if they spoke to their spouses and families the way the talk to our customers their loved ones would walk out the door. Customer SERVICE is not the norm. (Now please let me insert this: This doesn’t apply to all of them. Some of our agents are extremely professional, courteous and interested in servicing our customers.) If they’re being monitored and they know it, they clean up their acts. Leave them on their own and many revert back to old habits very quickly.

      Please understand, I’m not saying these people are bad people or that they should be removed from their positions or anything like it but, just making observations about my experience. I worked my way up through our call center to my current position so I know how hard it is, day after day, week after week to sit on a phone and “solve the worlds problems”. It’s a hard job at times. A bad attitude can make it a harder job. We need to get back to the point where servicing our customers is the number one priority and when giving 100% to our jobs it hugely important. All the technical savvy in the world is useless without those two components.

      Thanks for listening to my humble opinion.
      Regards.

      • #2708980

        Good info – an addition.

        by waybrig ·

        In reply to Inside Info from a call center supervisor.

        Having worked on an IT Help Desk for 3 years, I agree with your assessment of the attitude/work ethic problem. The majority of our staff was not doing anything productive for the majority of the day. It’s a bad habit which effects the entire group. I feel my productivity dropped way off just by being exposed to this day after day.

        Of course I believe this problem is allowed to continue because management has no desire to discipline/possibly fire unproductive employee’s. We had a staff member caught sleeping at his desk and playing games numerous times by our manager. The person was given harsh warnings but they never changed their habits and management never followed through. Other’s in the group saw this and understandably did not see why they should put forth any effort either.

        So yes, I agree that work ethic is a big problem. I think a bigger problem is that managers do not deal with the issue, thereby allowing it to spread throughout an organization.

    • #2709014

      non outsourced tech replies…

      by ttoon1 ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I can honestly say at my workplace, management lets the IT dept, and techs down. they would like me to upgrade and yet give me no money to upgrade (apart from the normal annual upgrade each year). We have a database in place that works realtime that the customer issues a complaint through the database, when I check it I’ll fix it (they can also log password changes, printing issues and network faults). It also calculates the percentage of the faults in the school. Currently and my average is sitting on .88% (5 computers down out of 622, and 2000 users) per day. I also do a quick run around the systems, in case a staff member doesn’t log a complaint into the databse. Plus do the usual update server/workstations, AV, and check backups. And I can’t see why the staff or managment complain. Maybe I’m one of the good 54% But, I know other techs in the same position, they would love to improove support and upgrade but the money is not there and so as long as we do our day to day operations there shuold be no complaints.

    • #2708948

      Managers are not doing the right analysis

      by sprucehawk ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I spent 15 yrs in remote software support, over half that time managing support teams, with more than 1 company (I outlived the jobs – we WERE very successful).

      Many good reasons as to the source of the problem have been expressed here. I only seriously differ with one – don’t bash the individuals doing tech support. They are doing their best – it’s human nature to do our best at any job.

      I must agree that the problem is with management, and it is very easily expressed: management is doing the wrong analysis of the data! There is so much data available for real analysis, and no one seems to be aware of the possibilities.

      Possible improvements (and subsequent measure of the success of the improvements) from the right sort of analsysis (each software package is different) are: improved checklists, training on quicker resolution of the most commmon problems, better software tools (to eliminate minutes lost in administrivia while documenting the call), better staffing/training for in-depth issues, and several others. An additional benefit is identification of bug fixes or enhancements for future software releases. Last but not least, management may find that their best support techs are not necessarily the ones with the best “productivity” measures from their current (naive?) measurements.

      Why is this analysis not occuring now? Probably because most managers are not technically savvy – this is not the sort of analysis that can be done with a spreadsheet. For those managers who want to pursue my suggestion – ask your staff to provide input. Their gut-level responses are gold. Then get whatever tech help you need to quantify their ideas, in order to ‘sell’ your solutions to upper management.

      Other management tasks: 1) Reward your staff. Support tasks are much more difficult, and require a wider range of skills, than development. (No need to go into how – there are plenty of management books on that.) 2) Take end-user training in problem identification back to the end-user managers. It’s not impossible – I once had my teams’ client base (yes, that’s client base, not other departments in the same company) give me this feedback “If 90% of our calls are solved in 3 minutes or less, we are mis-using our software support!” Ah, those were the good old days!

      Respectfully submitted,

    • #2708943

      Well look at where the help desk is!

      by zlitocook ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Most of the first level help is in under Developed countrys that have over stressed under paid workers. These workers have to learn how to talk to people that they do not understand. We need answers about how to fix problems that they have to look up and contact others in our country to learn about problems and fixes. The second level is just as bad, they have to go through the first level to find out the problem or contact you to go through what you did with the first level! It is like a dog trying to get its tail. I tried to get help with Nortons internet security and the XP SP2 update. I Emailed with three people who could not understand the basic ideas that I was trying to tell them. I can run update and down load them but can not install them. The contact asked me to reinstall the software. That is the first thing that a novice tells you to do. I fixed it my self and I do not need a translater.

    • #2708942

      it isnt that bad fact is it’s better than ever!!!

      by kc6dfa ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      rational igorance is growing, not only on the political scene, but in every facit of life. 90% of the “problems” people have with their stuff, ie, computers, suv’s, cakes, pies whatever could be adverted if they would read the directions, that come with the item. Simple things like lisning in class, studying beyound what the minimum requirements, could actually put most tech support out of business. Most tech support tecks learn more in a week than the majority of students in any school learn in a week just because they have learned to read the directions and how to access help files.

    • #2708940

      it isnt that bad fact is it’s better than ever!!!

      by kc6dfa ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      rational igorance is growing, not only on the political scene, but in every facit of life. 90% of the “problems” people have with their stuff, ie, computers, suv’s, cakes, pies whatever could be adverted if they would read the directions, that come with the item. Simple things like lisning in class, studying beyound what the minimum requirements, could actually put most tech support out of business. Most tech support tecks learn more in a week than the majority of students in any school learn in a week just because they have learned to read the directions and how to access help files.

    • #2708928

      The joke is on them

      by darien.carter ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Funny how everybody complains about tech support, But nobody wants to support the Tech’s. How do you do this? Give us the proper training! Contrary to popular belief, none of us know everything about computing but we do know how to get answers, and that takes time. To all my tech support comrades, PRESS ON!

    • #2708919

      Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      by st0rmchaser ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      My two cents worth… Tech Support has gone down hill for years now. The only way to pull it out of the gutter that it is in is to revamp it. Now days a business hires off of the street. They may test them to see if they know where the desktop is. Plus be sure they can find their way around on the browser, and Outlook Express. But the bulk of it comes from flash cards or Rolodex and from a computer sitting beside them. You can tell if they know what you are talking about. If you ask a question that is not going along with their little cards, or their computer. You get a long sigh, or a “please hold” Or you get and please uninstall, and reinstall. Or the dreaded reformat.
      This is the most neglected career that you can choose. It?s the only one that I can think of in the computer industry that doesn’t require a test of your knowledge, and skill. They are also very much abused by irritant callers who think that it is the support staffs fault for the problems they are having with their computer. The whole system needs to be overhauled.
      If you decrease your support staff, and test them, and pay them what they are worth, you will see a better return on calls getting results. Give the pros their money’s worth, and reward those that go back to school.
      If your going to keep the customer on hold, then include in the hold message a calming voice explaining how computers can have problems and not all problems will be fixed with one phone call. Then nicely (very nicely) give words of encouragement, and tips for staying calm. I practice this with my newbies and it works! A few comforting words assuring them you feel their pain, and maybe you should give the computer a time out, and then tips on what to check for after a time out will go a long way in resolving lots of issues. It’s ok to sell, but the public is tired of the BS with no results. You tend to sound like just a selling machine that has no heart after a while. Bait them abandon them. If you can record ten different sell ads to sing in their ears, then you can include a couple tips in there. Plus it will help you to keep your good staff. This is one of the main reasons why support centers loose their best workers. They get tired of the cussing, and name calling, abuse, etc. Plus if you think this will make the customer run, think again. They don?t run. I never had one to run from me. The conversations some may start unpleasant, but they mellow out, if the Tech support is versed on how to handle it well.
      Split up your staff… If you have someone that really knows their hardware, but you have them on the software phones. Change them to hardware!
      Now for the pitfalls… Some of the Tech Support is bad because the business could care less about it. They are not making that much money. Some customers if they are charged for the service, are watching that clock, and will hang up after a given amount of time. Others only will call if the support is free. After that forget it. Which brings us back to poor tech support because the staff is not knowledgeable. Who wants to pay for a service if the advice they are given is bad? The other is the Outsourcing to Countries, with bad English. The customer can’t tell you what the tech support told them to do, cause they didn’t understand a word that was said. Which brings us back to the business then because they want cheap labor if the Tech support is unknowledgeable. They also or at least some will hire off the street, give them a few lessons on how to search the rolodex or the computer, and turn them loose after a couple days or less of training. Then the business gives them a quota for the day or the week. It all has to stop! If you have ever asked any Tech person how many years of training they have, I bet they say they started years ago, and they are still learning. That is who I want working for me! Pull up a chair now and lets see what you have learned so far? That is also whom they need on the phones. Now the other pitfall is the software itself. If you want less support calls, or better ones, then demand better software! Stop taking excuses for the crap ware that is being dished out to the public and business. Plus do something about the malware that is ruining business everywhere. Fixing it halfway is not acceptable. Other business establishments won?t tolerate it, neither should the Tech Support industry. Demand better.

    • #2708902

      Various Causes:

      by anubhav ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      -Management policies driving the support personnel to *higher productivity* while not offering additional incentives to those individuals with higher productivity. When i worked tech support for a global corp. I noticed that as long as i was there for my shift, it didnt matter if I did 30% more work than my co-worker. we were getting the same benefits, same pay – no additional incentive.

      -Techs are asked NOT to log in even Five minutes early, even if there were customers on the wait queue, as the company will not pay them for the additional time –> Longer hold times for customers.

      -Support personnel were hired at their ability to read (outdated) scripts rather than their ability to troubleshoot. Gianst like IBM EUS, CISCO, GE etc do not hire support professionals anymore, they hire contract companies. The contracted tech gets paid around 12$/hr, gets NO benefits, is riddled with outdated management policies and is offered no incentive to be more productive than he needs to be.

      -Another reason for low FCR’s was (moduled) support teams. Various tech support locations are specialized untis for One purpose, and everything else needs to be transferred to other teams. If a client calls in asking for support on a issue that you CAN support, but just dont have the proper rights to, you need to transfer it to another team that can –> there goes your FCR. This is becomming an issue as phone menu options are not clear enough for most clients and they end up contacting the wrong support teams.

      –Outsourcing/offshoring is also an issue. I cannot count the number of clients who have called int oc omplain that (specialized) admin support teams do not respond to them for 12 hours. To explai this issue consider the following scenario
      —- You call in tech support as you are having issues with say your exchange account with the company. You are in US, the support team is in US. the tech after trying for a while says that he needs to route the case to the exchange support team andthat you will be contacted. the exchange support team is located in india, and has work hours according to their 9-5 hours. So when they come to work, you are not working, and when you come to work, they are not working – resulting in a neverending cycle of emails/voicemails/offline pages in order to get the issue resolved. If you can never TALK to the person and explain what exactly is the problem, how can you expect a resolution to your issue?

      *Unsupported Issues* –
      I love these, seems like there is a neverending list of unsupported issues with every support team. My team was asked to do an audit of another (contacted) support team, it seemed like their new support techs were briefed more on how to find ways to code cases as unsupported and punt them than to resolve them. Couple of things i noticed was SBC Yahoo DSL techs will often tell the customers to contact their PC manufacturer or company IT support for cases that are resolved (in the end) by the pc tech/ company tech by looking up FAQ’s on the SBC site. But its a vicious circle, countless number of times the PC techs\ Company IT will send the client to the ISP because they dont want to troubleshoot basic issues also.

      and lastly…..
      Customers and their expectations – Some clients can in with unrealistic expectations. Tech support is not magic, that a tech with punch in the magic code and everything will be working in a jiffy. I myself am guilty of being one of those customers, as i am sure all of us have been at one time or the other.

    • #2707118

      Technical Support

      by kerryellen kelly ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Hello All,
      I have been in the technical support field for five years now. It’s not the most glamorous or thankful job in the world but it certainly beats flipping burgers. In tech support you are someone’s hero for about five minutes after you find their document or restore a file THEY deleted from the server. Then you’re the ‘bad support’ person again.

      I think I get paid a decent salary (upper 50% of the nation) and that is probably why I’m very good at my job.
      I’ve had the great pleasure of working in Germany for three out of the five years I’ve been a techie and now I work for a company that allows for travel to the UK several times a year all in the name of technical support.
      I take extreme offense to the posing question, “Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?” Having worked now at three different locations (two in Europe and one in the US) I have to say that perhaps it is your location where the technical support is “?so bad.” Obviously you don’t have me working with you or any of the past or present colleagues that I have/had the great fortune of working with. They were soldiers (active and retired), civilians (GS and contractors), young, old, fat, thin? every walk of life. I now work with all civilians, no way connected with the military. And I must say, no matter where I have worked I always had a great team and the job(s) were done efficiently and with pride. I still keep in contact with many of my users from previous jobs from the upper echelons to the admins. They all respected my work and were appreciative.
      Are you interested in out-sourcing your tech support? You think it will improve things? Go ahead. That is all phone support which is a little difficult as you can imagine. Chances are the support representative will be in some other country, English skills may be up to par but the accent will be difficult to understand. The user will experience longer down-times and the frustration level will increase.
      “First Call Resolution in the software publishing industry is 46%!” First call representatives are usually minimum wage personnel. They are still wet behind the ears; still learning the basics. Perhaps YOU should take some responsibility for your own machine and learn the basics. You don’t get in a car without first taking driving lessons, do you? You work with that machine in front of you and you should possess some ‘owner responsibility’. You back up your data to a server if possible or request a copy of a CD with your important information. You figure out that most problems can be resolved by rebooting your machine. You write down error messages when they appear. You list the applications that were open when you received such an error message or when your machine just ‘stopped working’.
      Answers: Training, training, training and good managers that want to shape, mold and guide their techs. Another answer is communication. That is the key in any relationship including tech support and users. Inform the user when you will be by to fix their computer and follow up.
      Stress Junkie: Poor work ethic in the American culture. Are you 100% serious? I’ve worked overseas and in America and I must tell you… it’s all relative. The UK, Germany, Italy, France? Have you been in France when they, whomever, decided to strike? Truckers, train personnel, security personnel? It’s a wonder they get anything done. Have you ever tried to contact anyone in Europe at work passed 3:00 PM on a Friday? Good Luck. I’m the last person to ‘get ethnocentric on you’ but I really don’t agree with your ‘poor work ethic in the American culture’ comment. There is a reason why we are a super power and it is not because we rest on our laurels. We do work? a lot. We do have a system of check and balances throughout that keep most honest. We are at our desks more than any other country in Europe. Yes, I’m aware of the caveat just because a person is at their desk for 60 hours a week doesn’t mean they’re working 60 hours. I realize there is good and bad in every country but just to generalize that American’s have a poor work ethic is wrong.
      I apologize for the lengthy e-mail as I’m sure you all have work to do. As do I.
      Have a great day!

    • #2707078

      Who said that outsoursed services are better?

      by aleksm ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I know good examples when outsourcing created a total mess especially when the Data Center is packed with custom Business Intelligence systems tightly integrated and running on multiple platforms to meet the business processing/analytical needs.

    • #2707030

      Business Gets What It Pays For

      by donaldlbarrett ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      When most business owners/managers pay a substandard industry wage to support personnel, it is very hard to motivate these individuals. Usually there is no incentive at this level for continuing education and this does breed contempt in the workplace. In this country, it takes more than a substandard wage to raise a family modestly and if the business climate would embrace that we would surely see an improvement.

      Don Barrett
      Network Administrator

    • #2706996

      Money

      by thetech ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I assume when you say non-outsourced tech you are talking about support here in the USA that has not been farmed out to India or some other country. Personally, I would rather deal with bad support in this country because at least you can understand the ill advice better. You can also ask to speak to their superior and expect to get someone who speaks English as a first language, not a second or third. The tech outsourcing only proves that our country?s businesses are so profit driven that they would rather lose tons of customers, than offering quality support and gaining new-satisfied customers. It?s all about saving a few bucks. Our focus isn?t on customer satisfaction anymore, it all about profits. The old saying, ?the customer is always right,? went out the door a long time ago.

    • #2706917

      Learn how to use Statistics

      by itguyy ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Statistics lie, if you live by statistics you’ll be constantly living in stress and fear.

      Averages only mean something when you have a nice distribition (One curve…) You won’t have a nice distribution in IT Support because you don’t have multiple types of requests. A bunch resulting in 5 minute responses, some requiring more time, some requiring hours. A true look at this stats would include the average, median and mode and show that for say password resets, we get that right in 5 minutes each time. For virus fighting it takes longer, reinstalls take longer then that.

      Live your life by the average of everything, you you’ll never get it right.

      -Rob

    • #2707252

      Your users are the useless ones

      by grandoldragon ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Tech support is aware of your problem and would like to help you out. Exactly which way did you come in?

    • #2707250

      You get what you pay for

      by jetmd24 ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Alot of it is poor training, but in my opinion, the quality of service depends on how good of a tech the company in question can afford. You pay less, your not going to get quality applicants for the job. In turn you have techs that don’t quite know how to do what is asked of them.

    • #2707235

      Why are Americans so hard on themselves? It’s a Global 46 percentile.

      by non techie ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Americans go too hard on themselves
      Work Ethic posted earlier on another thread:

      As a sometime user of HelpDesks (work, HP, MSoft, Symantec etc)and shops, garages, admin desks, I find nationality or culture doesn’t matter. It’s the working conditions people are under or the people themselves. However when I went to the US of A I found people very nice. Much “nicer” then Australian front desk/shop/call centre. So does my American spouse.

      If I call a helpdesk from Australia, I can get anywhere in the World on the other end. Most are very good. If I call my work Helpdesk I usually ask for one or two people I knopw will be helpful. I think work ethic generally has slid all round- face to face or over technology links. It’s a me, me and me World out there. Unfortunately the US gets the blame for it and every other thing known to humankind.

      But there are still plenty of us out there, World-wide, who go an extra (paid or underpaid). and we are better for it.

      From: non techie Date: 09/14/04

      From: non techie Date: 09/15/04

    • #2707207

      It isn’t just bad in I/T, support is bad everywhere

      by wordworker ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I am frankly offended by many of the comments posted in this thread. We (tech support troubleshooting, solution-finding professionals) deserve more praise than criticism. Yes, many help desks are understaffed, underpaid, undertrained, and don’t do a five-star quality job. But they’re the minority, IMHO. Most IT pros I know try their very best to overcome obstacles like users who can’t explain context, refuse to write down error messages, and fail to follow instructions to the letter.

      Permit me to vetch about some other “SUPPORT” industries that suck much, much worse and are deserving of at least equal amounts of derision.

      Food service: Not just drive throughs or even fast food restaurants. “There you go” has replaced “thank you” in the vernacular. I stopped counting at 1,000 the times I got cold food or the wrong order.

      The electric company. These people invented circular references in their telephone-answering systems. Good luck getting these clowns to answer the phone.

      Cable Television. At least in my neck of the global woods, you sit on hold for 45 MINUTES when you call the cable company, then you get some poor schmoe who can’t really do more than create a work order and, oh BTW we can’t get to you for two MONTHS because we have a backlog..

      Auto repair shops. Need I say more? If you find an honest mechanic who doesn’t make up repairs, sabotage your vehicle, and inflate prices, hold on for dear life.

      Tree repair guys. Me: “Hi, I have trees that need to be cut down, can you do it?” Them: “Sure we’ll come by and give you an estimate.” Me: Three weeks after the first appointment missed, without a telephone call, “Are you EVER going to come and do the work and take my hard-earned money???”

      Home repair guys. Same routine as the tree repair guys.

      It isn’t just the “help desk” industry that suffers from people who don’t have the moral fiber or the mental wherewithal or the work ethic to show up and do a good job. It’s about time we stop whining and give credit where it’s due.

      • #2707158

        One From the Other Side

        by olprof67 ·

        In reply to It isn’t just bad in I/T, support is bad everywhere

        I’m entering my ninth year in Internet tech support, having started with little more than a liberal-arts degree and general exposure to p/c’s and the Net.

        Although I have successfully completed cross-training in two additional fields, my base pay from the day I started with my present employer has not improved save for the token adjustments for inflation. (Conversely, cross-trainees from the other two disciplines, who originally received less, have seen their pay rise.)

        A similar discrepancy arises with regard to promotion; it is offered only to those fully cross-trained, and so far, only those who have started in the less-technical fields have advanced.

        Overtime? It’s non-existant! The standard answer for those who seek to supplement their incomes is to sell additional services — most of the more technically-oriented reps take a dim view of this, partially for reasons of personality, and partially because we often know of better and cheaper alternatives to the junk we’re supposed to plug.

        So why do I stay on? Partially because the pay level, while apparently capped, is still several dollars per hour above prevailing local wages, but mostly because I’m well into middle age and held hostage by the need for health insurance.

        What is rightfully debunked as socialism when practiced by the politicians is apparently praised as efficiency when carried out within the private sector.

        Having come of age in a time and place where the New Deal was venerated until the dawn of the Reagan era, and having witnessed the almost-complete perversion of the work ethic over the last decade by a gang of power-obsessed corporate idiots, I can only say to those who have put their trust in the system, “be afraid, be very afraid”.

    • #2715615

      Check under the management rock…

      by agrogan ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      The bottom line on poor tech support statistics is ultimately the responsibility of the infrastructure manager. The roles of a manager are to provide resources, measure individual/department performance to include correction and appraisals, trend analysis, budgeting, and report to powers that be some or all of the items above (and of course?other duties assigned). The manager with a combination of his/her duties will be able to and should be measuring the viability of their efforts and reporting it. The primary reason is of course a selfish one?job (pseudo-)stability. The first thing that needs to take place is the manager needs to have a vision of what the ?ideal? tech-support department looks like in his/her organization. Then determine the key stakeholders (this is handy not only for metrics but also when allocating resources (serverA is down, it only affects departmentZ, reducing their productivity by 15%?priority 2). Create a mission for your department (your employees will feel a part of something when they know what they are putting that server together to support a part of the mission, besides this also gives you things to measure their performance against. Next you will want to hire and train ?competent and trustworthy? employees, to include providing them with what I like to call ?guidelines for success (training req./plan and periods, performance req., ect.).? This will not only provide your new hire with the tools needed to stay on board and perform well, but it will also weed out the ?no getters (will not last beyond the 90-day trial/training period).? Again, this will benefit you because you will be able to mentor to those who want it, also relieving your workload (train your replacement). Then you must set organization wide guidelines for support (sla?s and policies). This covers your behind when those ?grey? areas are breached by enthusiastic end users, to include developers (tech support supports them as well). Then there also needs to be policies put in place for support individuals. After all, time is money! 

      The tendency for infrastructure types to point to end-user training is a valid point and for the record, there needs to be again a ?manager? to ascertain the training needs of his/her department employees. The truth of the matter is that you would all be out of a job if users had all the training needed/wanted and never needed to call for support. Keep in mind, managers have to justify not only their jobs but yours as well.

    • #2715412

      The problem & solution is everybody

      by philospher ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Everybody knows what the problem is,here’s how we solve the problem. First we stop the blame game and everybody accept responsbilty for thier actions. Next to repair this problem it’s going to take a brain trust of experience,and educated professionals with both certified and open-source experience. Everybody and I mean everybody is going to have to get over the high school clique mentality. Stop assuming and let’s work together,next management at all levels are going to have to stop justfying and crying poverty when it comes to paying for support professionals. You don’t get something for nothing. This is in my humble opinion.

    • #2708393

      Easy . . . crappy management.

      by mccabe_c ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      We hire crappy people for a couple of reasons:

      First, because the manager (not my manager, incidentally) is just as big a moron as the people he’s hiring. He can’t determine a good candidate and can’t see the value in using anyone else to aid in the selection process. He is then too shortsighted or lazy or something . . . to train his people on the most fundamental concepts that they should have had coming in the door.

      Second, because there is no such thing as a company that will give a real reference anymore. They’re all so paranoid about litigation that they’ll only give out name, rank and serial number, aka name, position and employment dates. Again, a management issue.

      Then, again partly because of fear of litigation, we don’t fire people and look for the next candidate when we should.

      Pile onto that the ever-expanding array of technology to be accounted for, and we’re completely screwed.

    • #2724049

      Internal IT does not understand service excellence

      by kzin1 ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Non Outsourced IT have no incentive to perform, ,they turn up
      sometimes for work and they get paid irrespective of the quality
      of the job they do. Most internal support groups set up Tiers of
      Help Desk Agents – they put the most junior on the phone so
      the senior’s can play doom or do something “more important”
      than supporting customers. Customers are rude to the staff and
      the staff are indifferent to the customers. An outsourcer is as
      good as the buyer of the service -and this is a whole bag of
      worms. If the buyer is well experienced, understands pay for
      performance SLA’s and knows why his own organisation will
      never succeed then he may get a good outsourced contract. But
      good contracts aren’t about mean time to resolve and wrap up
      times – they are about resolving on first call, about skill teams,
      making front line staff feel proud of what they do, having a
      carreer path for the staff so that involves progression within the
      support function because most tier 1 agents have one ambition
      and this is to get out into the field or away from customers –
      thats because everyone else isn’t looking afer the customers so
      why should they – a dedicated support business has one mission
      and thats where the difference lies. Of course amongst the
      dearth of bad managers are a few evangilists – they believe in
      the art of support and it makes no difference wether they are
      insourced or not.

      • #2723896

        It take the same skills to buy outsourced help as it does to do it internal

        by asheehy ·

        In reply to Internal IT does not understand service excellence

        Kzin said it. It takes the same management skills to buy a good outsource service as it does to manage an insource team.

        Sadly, those skills are lacking among to many middle and senior management IT types.

    • #2706746

      Non-outsourced Tech Support

      by veereshb ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      GREAT INDIA!!
      THE ONLY LEADER IN OUTSOURCE BUSINESS

    • #2706627

      What and how are you measuring?

      by markflaherty ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Working in the outsourcing environment, I wonder what and how are you measuring to come up with 46% first call resolution. In our environment, we regularly achieve around the 65-70% first call resolution – but we measure on identified products and technologies. There are some of the products and technologies that have a multiplicity of areas where things could go wrong and this is escalated to the 2nd level support team who are trained specifically in those areas.

      We have found that the resolution rate is reasonably well linked to the training of the personnel involved and the troubleshooting tools at their disposal.

      As our first level support is provided by the helpdesk staff, the task assigned for them is primarily ensuring that the correct details are recorded at first level and that basic troubleshooting is performed (with an SLA of 65% of first level resolution on identified products). The training of these staff members is set to achieve this.

      I suppose the issue for most organisations is to ensure they understand what they are trying to achieve in support and then setting in place a training plan and implementing the correct troubleshooting tools necessary to achieve their objectives. Also, it should be kept in mind that the environment being supported must have some controls to stop users from installing implementing products / technologies without proper cosideration for effects on other products. In my experience, many organisations do not have any control on their SOE (desktop) or applications.

      The best form of support is to be proactive and implement a correct level of control to ensure that the business can still achieve its objectives without causing a “user revolt”.

      Lastly, in upgrading applications and products, a level of acceptance testing and procedures should be put in place to ensure that what is about to be put into the production environment is not going to create an avalanche of issues to be resolved by first level support.

      I wouldn’t be entirely blaming the support organisation for “bad stats”. This may be an indicator of a more serious problem underneath.

    • #2706594

      ADHD Thinking

      by ancientangler ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I’m not in tech support, although I seem to be the person my friends call when they have problems. Although there are some truly hideous tech support people who shouldn’t be working in a job that affects other people, some of the blame must go to the customers, obviously. In my experience, I find that it’s the rare computer user who actually reads instructions. I’m not talking about technically oriented people who LIKE computers, but people who bought one because they need to use it. If these people had no choice but to install a new furnace themselves, they’d read the documentation from cover to cover before blowing up their house. But, for reasons I don’t understand, the docs that came with their computers remain unopened for years, and they’re totally (and blissfully) unaware of the F1 key or the presence of the “Help” choice on the menu.

      There’s another issue, too, but I can’t prove it because it’s based on observing just a handful of people. There are users who are so addicted to the bells and whistles (Solitaire, chat rooms, etc) that they can’t shut it all off and just deal with their computer problems effectively. I mean, how fried do you have to be to say “How can I have a virus? I just bought the machine and it came some kind of Norton program?” Try explaining that the machine’s been in a box for 2 months, so the antivirus signatures are outdated.

      Some of this is the fault of the computer manufacturers. They sell computers like they were toasters, when, in fact, they’re more like chain saws, in terms of the need to read instructions. And, they don’t have what I think should be a legally required sticker on the keyboard: “Get out your credit card NOW, call this number, and buy a year’s worth of antivirus data service. The AV program on your machine is only partially complete until you do this”.

    • #2706540

      Times have change, but not tech-support

      by strachsel ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I believe that one reason tech-support seems so bad these days, is that for the most part people calling tech-support are better trained than they used to be. Because of this, expectations of the support folks has grown. When a professional in the computer industry calls someone else’s tech-support, they hope that who they call has more expertise in the product than they do. Usually this is not the case. The norm is to reach someone who is an entry level support person who has a script they work from. This leads to a bad experience for everyone

    • #2706056

      Both Sides

      by not again ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Having been on both sides of the tech support equation (Including managing a support call center)I see three prime causes for poor tech support:
      1) Money. Most businesses regard tech support as a cost center, few give more than lip service to the idea that good, solid support is a product enhancement. So, the money is given grudgingly and usually in the lowest possible amounts.
      2)Most companies that run support call centers tend to set numerical goals (Number of calls taken per shift) and techs are judged by the number of calls that they handle rather than the number of successful resolutions they accomplish.
      Counting calls is done automatically, tracking resolutions takes research and follow-up and it costs money.
      Most of the techs with whom I worked were thoughtful people who wanted to deliver quality service. Unfortunately, they were often precluded from doing so by the need to get through X nnumber of calls per shift – or else.
      3) Tech Support is not seen as a career by most of the techs involved in it. It is usually low paying and perceived as low-status. Because of this, the techs tend to see it as a stepping stone to something else rather than an end in itself.

    • #2706046

      Modern Economy

      by paul.hudson ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I have to put the majority of the blame on the technician. Most “Help Desk” positions are starting positions and don’t pay a livable wage. Barely above minimum wage. Most techs I’ve seen don’t understand how computers work. All they know is “swap parts” troubleshooting. For a qualified tech that’s great but for a beginner? I don’t think so.

      As if that isn’t enough throw in companies with no loyalty to customer, or employee and you have the combination for poor service. The company doesn’t care about the techs upward mobility. The max he(or she)will be there is 3 years. Then they’ll take a job somewhere else. Where they may, or may not, be appreciated until the newness wears off and then the cycle repeats itself.

      I have always believed that if the companies, i.e. the management took a personal interest in their employees and their professional development the paybacks would be enormous. That means you have to develop your employees from day 1. Plan for where you want them to be in 5 to 10 years. Share the corporate, and professional, knowledge. Send them to school to hone their skills and treat them like living human beings, not some piece of equipment with a shelf life of 3 years.

    • #2706036

      *T-R-A-I-N-I-N-G*

      by mike.0214 ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I’ve put in 2 tours of duty at 2 different helpdesks, 2 different corporations.

      I was a grunt in the ditch.

      I found something which GREATLY impacts productivity on the helpdesk, and I’d like to say the helpdesk environment has DEGENERATED into nothing more than a numbers game.

      Training. None. Sure, there’s the 2 week crash course on how to fillout your helpdesk ticket into Remedy or how to log in & out of the phone to account for every single second of your day.

      Where was the TECHNICAL TRAINING to prepare the Helpdesk analysts to properly troubleshoot the problem? There was none. You winged it. You brought your own knowledge with you. And for those that didn’t know it, I’d wince at the stupid/OUTLANDISH “solutions” I’d hear on the phone.

      I remember my IBM days as a supplemental employee in the Help Center working in the Mobile Support group (Thinkpad, PS/Note, etc.). There was originally training, but thru a managment switcheroo, training stopped. The call “Q” continued to get bigger and bigger. At one point, they started to hire people off of the street with ZERO computer experience, as in, didn’t even know how to format a floppy disk! (this is soo true, I’m NOT making this up) And these same people were supposed to be giving technical support to computer dealers and end-users alike. RIDICULOUS!!

      My philosophy was simple: TRAIN the call takers. CERTIFY them! Get expert, trained people on the phone to provide expert CORRECT answers! One fone call, one correct answer, one happy customer.

      But no. I was shooed out of the office. I’m just a call taker, I didn’t know what I was talking about, it was only my job.

      Managements solution? Call monitoring. And giving out your first and last name. First and last name positively impacts customer satisfaction.

      Funny, I thought solving a customers issue/concern etc. is what they were calling for, not warm fuzzies over a friendly voice giving you a name.

      In a nutshell over my rant: TRAINING. ONE PHONE CALL, ONE CORRECT ANSWER, ONE HAPPY CUSTOMER!

      Play the numbers games later. Fix the customer FIRST!

    • #2706004

      Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      by februarie02 ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      The answer is very simple.
      IT personnel is treated badly in almost all companies by everybody, lack of knowledge or lack of will to learn and laziness is replaced by blaming the IT personnel for everything.
      Personal experience; the user was unhappy with the workplace change and for the all day refused to log on to the network to do the job. The excuse was that the password is not working, on that day I changed the password six times and I assisted the user on logging to the network with no avail.
      Final move was to call users supervisor and explain the situation and live it up to the supervisor to resolve the situation.

    • #2706000

      Reply To: Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      by the admiral ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I don’t see that it was non-outsourced. I see it that the tech support sux.

      Here is what I find:

      People calling helpdesks are getting people they can’t understand.

      People calling and explaining the problem, and still having to start from the ABC’s and 123’s.

      People calling and the solution is for format the hard drive before ensuring it is a problem with hardware.

      People calling and are limited to a 10 minute troubleshooting service call before being hung up on.

      —- snap —-

      So if a call is limited to 10 minutes, you get a 46% call completion time? I think that you have to look at why, and not just the numbers.

    • #2705948

      Because hard work is hard to find…

      by delosky ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      It’s just like going to a restaurant. The odds that you will get good service by a competent waitor/waitress is hit or miss. Sometimes you get a server who refills your drink, always seems to be there when you need them, and makes sure your food gets out in a timely fashion. They understand their job and do it well.

      I’ve been on the phone with some tech support that’s been really good and I’ve been on the phone with tech support that’s been really bad. It’s hit or miss. Just like getting a cold burger or going thirsty in a restaurant.

    • #2705908

      Increasing Complexity

      by paul.tiffany ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      More than ten years ago, I and others in the company I worked for recognized that the nature of tech support was changing. The complexity of computers, networks, communications and applications was growing at a rapid pace. Looking back, I estimate that our previous understanding about the rate of increase was on the low side.
      In the late 80s, we reorganized our support to better cope with the complexity. By the early 90s, we bagan to see from many different experiences with clients that inhouse support was always going to be limited. This is when we turned to the idea of outsourcing – not to reduce costs, but to improve support.
      We launched a whole new company and immediately found ourselves partnered with the major service providers. These partners helped us to land numerous multi-million-dollar engagements, but we paid a price that we are paying now more than before.
      High-quality support requires commitment to serving customers of the support. Inhouse operatios rarely get the support they need because execs tend to view it only as a cost center. Many outsourcers are driven to reduce costs, especially in the last three years with the rapid growth of offshoring. Many of these outsourcers do not, and maybe never did, understand that higher quality support is needed to even adequately support technology users.

      Given the same level of commitment, an outsourcer has a greater opportunity to deliver better service. Why? First, real commitment to providing service. Second, an organization focused on providing support has more resources and can better organize to deliver better service. We were able to prove this contention, but our partners frequently dragged us down with their sometimes minimal level of support.

      Inhouse support is never likely to develop the kind of organization and networking with other support centers and vendors that can be accomplished by outsourcers. The key is finding outsourcers who are really committed to providing high-quality service. This service costs more, but the measurable payback is much better and the intangible payback is still greater with satisfied customers/staff.

      I have personally consulted with more than one hundred contact centers to assist with improving support. This is only a small percentage of the total, but it has given me some special insights on what does and doesn’t work both technically and managerially. I feel for the tech support staffs who are usually inclined to offer the best service, but are rarely supported by management.

    • #2705897

      Plumetting Service Quality

      by paul.tiffany ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      The book, “Total Customer Service / The Ultimate Weapon / A six-Point Plan for Giving Your BUsiness the Competitive Edge in the 1990s” by Davidow and Uttal was the bible for all those gurus espousing greater attention to customers. This was the precursor to Customer Relationship Management tools. What has been the result after ten years of hyping customer service? Greatly decreased levels of service have been measured in numerous studies in almost every industry.

      Many executives talk about the value of high-quality customer service, but not really understanding its value, they do not put their money where there mouth is. Outsourcers promote it, but seldom deliver. In the end, customer service has reached its greatest low in fifty years and is spiralling downward.

      Thousands of hard-working service providers will continue to be needed and will be personally commited to providing the best of service, but most management is headed in the other direction.

    • #2705822

      Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      by mazlo65 ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Because the pay for a support tech stinks, therfore we get “less qualified” (read “unqualifed”) applicants and entry-level applicants looking to get “a foot in the door” into the IT world that just don’t have the experience. Too many IT pros with better qualifications go into networking or sys admin.

      I am the assistant manager for a Tech Support department and I can tell you that a good support tech is very hard to find.

      • #2722165

        Is it the hoops

        by tinarr ·

        In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

        I am Tech Support and I find alot of the jobs I do and want to do I am having to go thru all sorts of processes to get the job done. Where I work, all jobs have to be “logged” from start to finish. If I want help from a SysAdmin – it has to be ‘logged’ and accepted, if I just want to fix a teeny problem, first I have to ‘log-it’, logging takes a long time, you have to be typing AT your pc and getting approval for sooo much nowadays. When I come home my feet are sore – I work that hard, and I have been mainly tech support for over a decade. Yes – I agree users are vague, but that is why they are users and not ‘power-users. IMHO Mgmt has made so many sub-departments and processes, many many tech support are actually jumping thru twice as many hoops to get the job done. And, yes alot of us are under-paid, but we are also very over-worked and totally qualified for our jobs!!!

    • #2722048

      Simple … Management, Staff Turnover and ID10T’s

      by g.brown ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      The only answer for this is to teach everyone involved properly.

      Most places DO NOT have enough training/documentation for either the support personnel or the users.

      The ID10T problem … people who do not “think” about what theyre doing and need to be handheld through every step of the process, how many times do you hear something like “err…it doesn’t work??” only to have to ask “OK, you are Left Clicking aren’t you” and then the answer “err .. no … is that what I’m supposed to do??” If someone is employed in a job that requires the use of a computer, basic understanding is really necessary. If they do not have this … they need training and documentation.
      Although I must say that I have seen quite a few support staff who really shouldn’t be supporting customers at all, and are well, basically, rude, arrogant and patronising.

      With proper management appraisals and correct techniques you can weed out people who are not suitable for customer facing roles.

      So, the support staff can get annoyed with these kind of inane questions and it can really hit morale.

      What ends up happening is that the initial person who answers the phone is given little or no training to be able to cope with any sort of difficult question .. difficult questions would be passed onto a “team leader”/2nd/3rd level support.

      These calls are quite often continuous, you hardly get a few seconds break between the calls. How many times do you have to wait on the phone listening to a recorded piece.

      Now, any “techie” is generally interested in their development in the IT world …. but generally the management does not train them (oh, they promise they will .. but then it never happens).

      What then happens is this:

      Techie gets frustrated.

      Techie realises that they’re going nowhere.

      Management don’t care (there’s so many techies out there looking for jobs we’ll just get another).

      Techie leaves (they will have had quite a bit of experience with the company now and may be able to do their job quite well, but all this is lost to the comany now).

      Management hires another (and doesn’t train them proplerly).

      Do you see a pattern emerging??

      People are SURPRISED when they start talking to someone who knows “not a lot” or just tries to fob them off!!

      SOLUTION: Management needs to invest PROPERLY in their employees …. making sure that they are capable of doing the job properly.

    • #2722020

      why tech support is so bad

      by ballroomdancer ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      reasons for this include:

      (1) low pay of staff, once they are experienced enough the good ones will leave for greener pastures

      (2) inadequate training before being put on the front line.

      (3) inadequate documentation for the front line people to help them resolve problems

      (4) flawed scripts for especially the new staff to follow

      (5) bad attitudes towards the clients they are supporting – i.e. assuming all end users are idiots, etc.

      (6) focus on closing the call vs actually resolving the call. seen this both internally and with outsourced call centres.

      (7) not all people have the nack for doing front line telephone support. I’m one of the ones who is good at it but seen far too many who are not.

    • #2722825

      Maybe not so bad

      by sasquatch14b ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Maybe all of you work for the wrong outfit. I’ve worked in several government in-house Tech Support situations, and the current one is phenomenal. The metrics are posted for the taxpayers to see, and I’m proud to say we consistently close the vast majority of tickets on the first call, and in less than 12 hours.

      In an aside, the folks at the desk are human beings, and the callers who are pleasant to work with get the best service. If you’re having trouble with the help desk, you might look in the mirror.

      Check out our metrics–they are publicly disclosed.
      http://www1.co.snohomish.wa.us/County_Services/SnoStat/

    • #2722731

      You get what you pay for

      by old_sys_admin_guy ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I ran a help desk for niche industry, our first level resolution was about 92%. Our folks were salaried and had previous industry experience. Most of the first tier jobs I see in my area start at 9.00 per hour, that isn’t enough to attract motivated workers to apply. Those workers are less likely to stay on the job for any length of time, waiting for any oppotunity to get out of the phone room/sweatshop.

    • #2706332

      The Grass is Greener…..

      by markplank ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Think of it like this: A person can drown in an average depth of 6 inches of water. Pretty scary! Some are better than others in tech support. If you really know what you are doing you can make a decent living in business for yourself or in a higher paying environment and will do so. Remember, those who can, do, those who can’t… well they are still learning.
      I will also go on to say that users are more often the problem because of a lack of skill sets needed to use the software.They don’t learn the terminology or they just want some one to do it for them and it pretty much requires training in phone counseling/problem solving. Phone tech support will burn a tech out very quickly.
      I will also go on to say that outsourced tech support like Dell Computer has done is so bad that I would say 1st call resolution is about 2%, having dealt with them.

    • #2706272

      Used to do the Help Desk

      by gretel111 ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I worked the Help Desk at both IBM and at Platinum.
      Although Platinum was a touch better in attitude, both places relied on measuring the employee by statistics alone. The emphasis was placed on how many calls were handled in a day. Under those conditions, workers very quickly learned every trick in the book to close a call, whether or not the customer was helped. I had many civil arguments with my manager over this practice and found my own ways to circumvent the system. My customers were treated with respect and I assumed that they had a right to an answer. I know that it worked becuase I had customers that would specifically ask for me and refuse to deal with others in the department. I heard the thank you words over and over because they had gotten an answer, even when I had to do research, they knew they would get a call back as quickly as I could.

      Get rid of the statistics, work on “the customer is number one” attitude and put high emphasis on training the worker on the topic they are supporting. THEN there will be good cusotmer support being given.

    • #2706245

      Why are users so lazy and use-less?

      by skidoggeruk ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Turn the question upside down and you might find the answer. Internal Helpdesks are a form of torture, as you explain for the millionth time how to insert a picture in Word to the same person, that you ensured went on that 2 day Word course followed by another 3 day Advanced Word course, a couple months later. Users can be ridiculously lazy. They look at you funny, when you say “But you have been using this system for 7 years.” They expect to come along and sort all the world’s problems for them. I actually had some people, albeit jokingly, saying could I come along and input all of their data for them, as well.

      We are in the fourth year of the 21st century and I still get “I don’t like computers very much”. If you gave a joiner/carpenter a saw, you would hope he knew how to use it, hopefully well. If not, you would hire a different one. Imagine you got a plumber who said “I don’t like these boilers very much”! Upgrade the caliber of people using the tools. Don’t blame the people trying to fix the tools.

      Which leads to another whinge. Perhaps internal support are worn down by the constant drip-drip-dripping of the incessant “how do I save an attachment” calls. Frequently abused and ignored, the value of this cannot be quantified, until they leave, of course.

      Which takes me to yet another comment. Do you think that out-sourced IT would bother to deal with issues that are clearly user-based? Is the computer working? Y. Is the software working? Y. Go to Windows. go to Help, Goodbye. It does happen that companies dump their internal helpdesks in preference of an outsourced support solution, thinking they will get some quantifible difference in quality, (and of course they are also looking at the bottom line), only to have to reverse their decision a year or less later, when they realise that “the computer guy” was actually very handy to have around.

      Sorry for all the ranting, but there is your answer. Frequently it is perceived as so bad, because they are expected to be a godsend with the ability to alter the amount of time in a day and the ability to psychically know what your problem is, how to solve it, and to assist in that irritating bottom wiping issue, as well. Maybe they need to define expectations from the outset, as would an external helpdesk.

      Right, I have to go write a project paper for a new client contract, check the mail on all the Unix servers, the backups and event logs on all the NT servers, and build up 3 notebooks, before all the user calls start.

      Thanks for letting me vent.

      • #3305410

        Hmmm well I disagree

        by mandanglo78 ·

        In reply to Why are users so lazy and use-less?

        I think the problem with many computer technicians is that we have a tendency to forget we are paid to tell people how to put an attachment in an e-mail. No matter how many times you have to tell them. I would much rather be improving the infrastructure of my organization then unjamming a printer or teaching some one how to insert a table in word for sixth time but it is my job, that is a technicians job. I think one of the things with internal tech support is many internal techs have forgotten what it was like when they weren?t an internal tech. I ran a small computer support business for a couple a years out of college and I can remember hoping for work and then having to deal with the meanest and nastiest people in there home. I can remember trying to get enough work to pay rent my car note and eat. Now I work for someone else no risk show up put in a good days work laugh and talk with my coworkers and answer some really funny questions. I am paid well treated well and best of all I don?t constantly have to try to sell my service worry about how much I spent on this ad or that ad is it working can I pay rent. I think before we start attacking the user we should remember that if it wasn?t for users being users they wouldn?t need us. Just my two cents

        • #3305378

          Fair enough

          by skidoggeruk ·

          In reply to Hmmm well I disagree

          I did say i was having a rant.

          But I do think that there is some validity in what I say. If corporates spent a small proportion on decent training, then perhaps the perception would be different. I was answering the question, although going off a bit.

          Guess I don’t fell particularly well treated. Like other places I have worked, support is seen as a straightforward expense. And does not have the level of spend that I suspect your company does. Personally I am supporting well over the “best coverage” sort of numbers that you might find on this site.

          Guess what I am saying is that, sometimes to change the perception, you need to let the users discover their errors in their own ways. When I was working outsourced support for a decent size VAR, I once was stopped from immediately ringing back a client, as the supervisor quite sagely said “Give them a chance to figure it out themselves”, his thinking was quite rightly that should they be able to educate themselves, then they would not let that happen to themselves again, and quite possibly be quite pleased to help somebody else out, next time. Now, something I did not get round to saying, as I am in one particular office most of the time, how often do you think I get asked to change a toner at the office 200 miles away? How often do you think that it happens here? Some people will take the easy course, like water, always. You can try and educate all you like, but because you are there, you are there to be used. I know that I must sound like a burnt out old d!@k, but I have learned to accept these things with a smile and a giggle.

          Thanks for keeping me on a level keel.

          Have a good weekend

        • #3306571

          I know exactly what you mean

          by g.brown ·

          In reply to Fair enough

          I think people are getting a little mixed up between COMPUTER SUPPORT and CUSTOMER SUPPORT. I suppose Technical Support can mean one or other or both!!

          In some ways I do like the “car” examples, and I’m sure you’ve heard many of these:

          If you buy a car from a garage you don’t expect them to teach you HOW to drive … or change your tyres etc.

          Imagine, you call up Ford/Renault etc …. if you have run out of petrol/oil/don’t know how to change tyres etc, do you CALL them for help – NO. You fix it yourself or take it to a garage for someone who knows how to fix it … errr … to fix it!!

          So in a sense you get what you pay for … but some people just don’t understand this.

          It depends whether you are providing user/customer support OR computer support, and to what extent.

        • #3311510

          aren’t the terms the same

          by mandanglo78 ·

          In reply to I know exactly what you mean

          In order to provide technical support to users, (I have to put this delineator in because if you are an engineer working on servers then this shouldn’t apply). you have to be two thirds customer support and 1/3 technical support. end user support is the hardest thing in the computer industry. you have to know what your talking about you often don’t have the luxury of looking up an answer you have to diagnose and fix problems on the fly 90 percent of which are caused by the person you are talking to you.

          but that is why it pays what it does if you are an in-house computer technical support i.e. a hardware technician or more importantly a software technician you get paid a fair amount of money to do your job.

          to refer back to the analogy if you take your car to the garage and the mechanic is constantly looking down at you and questioning your mental capacity If he said how could you put 10 quarts of oil in this engine don?t you know it can only take five that?s why it is broken you broke it. you wouldn’t take your car there again but if you were greeted by a friendly service technician who took you in lied to you said it wasn’t the fact that you put ten quarts of oil in your Honda it was the fact that too much oil caused the engine to malfunction but no problem he will have it fixed right away you would be back there every time you had a problem our at least I would.

          So all I am saying in conclusion is that the users are the customer of your garage, service personnel are not computer manufacturers they are the friendly garage on the corner or they should be.

    • #3297172

      out source or not to be out source that is the question

      by pskiwi2001 ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      I work on 2 helpdesk in NZ
      One of the helpdesk is out source and the other is not, and I can tell you from experience they are complete different. The out source one is all about numbers and not solutions. We want you to take this many call and so only have so many minutes, we are not interested in your excuses. The management is also very different in both companies. The out source company is we are not interested, we do not give a shit. The non-out source company attudie is if you don’t know, we will help you find out and if needed we will give you the training. The non-out source companies have said they want the job done right. The out source helpdesk has a high staff turnover(1 person leaves a week and if you have been there 6 months you are consider a old hand), low morale,low pay, no training and poor leadership from the top. The non out source company Give you higher pay, better training and very low staff turnover(No One has left in the 6 months, I have been here and I could only get a part time job here, hoping it will turn into a full time job).

      Before you ask yes my attudie to both companies is different. I cannot wait to leave the out source company at the end of the day(due to the stress etc) and I will not do overtime for them as I know they are going to screw up my pay. The non-out Source Company, I am lot more flexible with and quite often stay behind 10-30 minutes just to help and don’t even worry about the pay because I know they make it up in other ways. Don’t get me wrong the non-out Source Company is not prefect but is 100% better than the out source company.

    • #3311308

      hey moto dude

      by neby ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      hey dude what r u up 2? DUDE!!! RGNTHGDHGPOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
      u smell of pooooooooooooo!!! joking!!!

    • #3298896

      Outsource

      by msnair99 ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      always this is a problem if the tech support is kept within the org. The tech support skills cannot be groomed by orgs inhouse and hence outsourceis the best method. You cannot keep adding skills as and when required and also retention is a problem. Prob resolution is not with a SLA and hence I suppose this problem. Hope this helps.

      • #3318787

        Corp World is Evil

        by sablake234 ·

        In reply to Outsource

        coming from a corp world help desk supporting our own users and I think the problem is that they clean house every so often, and then rehire new people that will accept a lower salary. The new ppl are excited and will give it their all(which helps with SLA’s, its all about the numbers), but unfortunatly, the new hires are depending on the Sr’s that were lucky enough to stay, and have to call back the user once they obtain the guidance needed.
        So to save money, they weed out their analysts, blaming on the fiscal difficulties, wait for a while, and rehire new analysts at a lower salary. Its just a vicious circle I saw it all too often, and never agreed with it. I have no idea how I managed to stay for as long as I did, and made it to Sr. *L*, I left on my own accord.

    • #3177567

      Because users contiue to not use the users guide or follow basic instructio

      by came0023 ·

      In reply to Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

      Because users contiue to not use the users guide or follow basic instructions. I always here I didn’t do anything ,but the have the automatic updates on .They can be administrators and don’t no the password so it is just as much the users fault they need to help themselves . Have you checked for strtup items or services inmsconfig ask your freinds

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