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Why is non-outsourced tech support so bad?

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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Many reasons contribute

by stress junkie In reply to Why is non-outsourced tec ...

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. :-)

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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.

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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.

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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!!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Side note.

by Synthetic In reply to The Quick-In, Quick-Oout ...

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!

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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!

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Customer Satisfaction & Strategic Value of IT

by cary In reply to Out-sourcing American job ...

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

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