General discussion


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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What Oxymoron??... MSN Help Desk

by richards_unsubcribe In reply to My 2 cents...

RE: PGM554... "poor work ethic in the American culture." 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

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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.

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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 **** 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?

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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..

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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!

The PC Doctor

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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.

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Right on target!

by tutor In reply to Poor Tech Support is a Ma ...

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?

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sorry ... double post

by G.Brown In reply to Poor Tech Support is a Ma ...

sorry ... double post

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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

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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!

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