Tech Support Demystified

Today is The Last Shift. No more residential internet tech support. It’s a job where people yell at you all day because they haven’t the slightest clue how to use a computer. Yet people are surprised that this type of work is outsourced.

Every day people call in asking for help and I spend very little time on the call actually doing any actual tech support. Most of my job is getting very reluctant people to co-operate to fix an issue. I know this sounds silly, but it seems people are quite willing to ASK for help but increasingly reluctant to ACCEPT help.

A co-worker sums it up perfectly.

Sir, you’re in a dark room, I’ve offered to turn on the light, you refused.

I know a lot of people are reluctant to accept help because they don’t want to appear dumb. Well get that silly notion our of your head. We know within 10-15 seconds on a call that you are dumb. The harder you try to appear knowledgeable the worse you make things.

You have a problem. You cannot fix it. You called us for help. Let us help you.

So I am going to explain why we do things we do and maybe the next time you call you might understand the process a little better.

Validating the Account
Why we do this?
So we don’t get our asses fired.

Most people assume your account info automatically pops up in our system. It does not. Just because it does at Company XYZ does not mean it does at Company ABC. We can’t help you if we don’t know who you are. You also come across as a complete douchebag when you immediately start rattling off information without being prompted for it. Most of the time it’s not even the correct information.

We are not going to give your private information without validating the account.

Yeah the last agent might not have done that but that agent probably does not give a shit about his/her job . Some do. And really, is it so hard to have a bill handy before you call? Would you go to the bank and ask for a 400K mortgage with absolutely no paperwork?

I am so glad I am speaking to someone I can understand
Why we offer no opinion about outsourced agents.

Agents are not allowed to say anything negative about the company, products,internal/external tools or other agents, whether in-house or outsourced. All you are doing is wasting time. The agent on the phone is a just a warm body to help you with internet and email. We do not make policy. We have no influence on policy. The people who make policy don’t take calls. So just shut up.

I was speaking to John two days ago. Can I speak to him again?
Why we cannot transfer you to a specific agent
There are thousands of agents on duty taking calls in many different locations. The call was transferred to the least busy call centre.

How many computers do you have in the household connected to the internet?
Note: A laptop IS a computer

Why we ask this?
If the service works on 3/4 computers, we need to focus on why the one computer cannot connect.

Is your connection wired or wireless or both?
Why we ask this?

This helps us determine if the over all connection is having problems or this is a case of a computer having the incorrect wireless information.

Is your computer XP, Vista, Windows 7 or a Mac?
Why we ask this?

Getting from Point A to Point B on your computer  is different on each operating systems. The same way if you mail a letter to 3 Elm Street, the post office is going to want to know what city.

Do you have a wired connection?
I just told ya, my wifi is not working!
Why we ask you this?
This helps us determine if the problem is related to the overall connection or just the wireless connection. Often we ask you to do a wired connection so that we can log into your computer and properly configure/test the wireless connection.

Can you tell me yes or no, if….
Why we ask you closed ended questions?
We just want a’yes’ or a ‘no.’ Not a story. Yes customers do launch into very long unrelated stories. Sometimes it’s nerves, sometimes they think they are providing the agent with crucial tech supporting information, but all you are doing is a) annoying the agent b) NOT ANSWERING YES OR NO. Are you by the modem is not an invitation to tell me a story about when the modem was replaced 7 months ago. The correct answer is ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ We don’t even want to hear ‘yes, I am by the modem,’ cause that is too many words. A ‘yes’ will do.

Can’t you just send a tech?
Why we say no
Techs are very expensive. The company cannot keep costs down if we sent a tech for something that can be fixed over the phone. Also imagine we did send a tech for everything – how long do you think you would wait for a tech?One week? Two weeks?  Two months?

May I place you on hold while I research the issue?
Why we do this.

1. We need to research the issue.
2. We need to pee.
3. The tools are broken and we can’t tell you the tools are broken so we have to fix your issue without tools.
4. We need to concentrate and you are yammering in our ears. We are using 3-4 tools at the same time. It requires a lot of focus.
5. You are difficult and frustrating so we are giving you a time out.
6. You are difficult and frustrating so we giving ourselves a time out otherwise we will kill you.

I am sorry that issue is unsupported
Why we say this?

Unsupported means has nothing to do with your internet or email connection. We can’t spend the company’s time and money fixing another company’s services. Imagine waiting on hold for 25 minutes because you can’t connect to the internet. You are on hold because the agents are helping customers with broken computers or printers or teaching them how to Google.

I want to speak to the President of the Company!
Why we put you on mute and giggle?
Sorry, but the president of the company does not sit in the call centre taking calls. And frankly, the president of the company has no clue how to fix a technical issue.

It worked fine yesterday.
Everything works until it breaks. Let us fix it. That’s what we do. End of story.

The Scrubbies Project

Many, by ‘many’ I mean, three, of my fans know I started The Scrubbies Project back in July 2011. What might seem as just another Strange Jo Project there is actually some method to my madness.

I like to make things last. It’s a good way to save money and it’s better for the environment.

Note: Don’t worry I am not going to get (too) preachy about the environment.

I’ve had the same pair of oven mitts for 11 years. They are ragged, have cut and burn marks on them as well as some green paint.

I bought a hand blender in 1990. It still works just fine even though part of the wand is held together by electrical tape.

I don’t think I have ever bought a roll of paper towels in my life. I take old t-shirts and pyjamas and cut them into cleaning rags. They last for years.

I don’t have an e-reader because there are more paper than electronic books for free at the library.

I can well afford to buy another pair of oven mitts, an e-reader, some paper towels and a new hand blender, but why?  That’s just a pile of still useful items going into the landfill.

This takes me to The Scrubbie Project. I love the dollar store but I know that most of the stuff from the dollar store is over packaged cheap crap from China. I think we can all agree that Cheap Stuff from China is great, but it also fills up our landfills at an alarming pace cause,well, cheap stuff breaks pretty easily, and since it’s cheap we really don’t think too much about tossing it into the dumpster and going back to the dollar store to replace it.

Back in July 2011 I finally ran out of dollar store scrubbies and I went to the dollar store to buy another pack of scrubbies. Then I thought, I wonder how long I can make my $1.74 purchase last? I learned a few years ago that a full scrubbie breaks down just as fast as a half a scrubbie so I cut them in half. My 12 large scrubbies become 24 small scrubbies.

My first scrubbie lasted from 12 July to 27 August until an unfortunate user error. I accidentally ripped it in half but by then had worn so thin it was time to retire it. I am glad to report scrubbie #2 is going strong!

Note: Some dish cleaning scrubbie become bathroom cleaning scrubbies or bike chain cleaning scrubbies. Then they go to a special farm in the country where they can run and jump and play with other scrubbies. The city is no place for a scrubbie.

It would be naive to think that just making a pack of scrubbies last two or three years is going to help the economy or save the environment. My greatest motivation is that when I keep things going and going forever, I feel like a total rebel because it’s my tiny way of stickin’ it to the man! The idea behind The Scrubbie Project is if we used that same “let it last” idea for more things in our lives, then maybe we can have less impact.