A lot of companies are living for the present and seem oblivious to losing a customer in the future.
A friend of mine wanted to reinstall his Internet service. He called the company’s tech support.
After waiting 22 minutes for them to answer, well, what’s the point?
Amazingly, the tech rep could not tell him how to install his company’s service. He passed my friend to the company that made his router. The Indian guy who barely spoke English was clueless and hung up.
No wonder product support ranks near the bottom on the Consumer Reports recent customer-service poll. Just about every company that deals with the public is in trouble here. Our expectation as customers is zero when we need help.
Another strange thing here is paid tech support. From what I hear from users, it’s no better than the freebie. The only difference is the meter’s running — $68 a call. They want your credit-card number before they don’t solve your problem.
There is a way around this, and it’s called the Internet. A lot of companies now offer knowledge bases to answer questions with no intervention by a human who is asleep at the phone. These can work well, but there’s one problem. If your computer is not working, how do you access it? OK, go to the library.
I’ve talked to tech-support reps who seem brain dead about their product. Those same knowledge bases, where you type in some keywords and get an answer, are what they use. If it’s not in the computer, these people don’t know it.
That’s a problem because diagnosing computer programs can be more difficult than, say, brain surgery. One thing always leads to another. People who cannot follow this chain will be blind to solutions.
If I may stereotype, a lot of these folks have problems communicating, especially when they are trying to translate English and look up answers at the same time.
Apparently, companies actually think all this is very smart. It saves gobs of money. They’re living for the present and seem oblivious to losing that customer in the future.
The solution is to only hire people who are good listeners, problem solvers and actually enjoy helping us. I know from long experience that’s a very rare creature in this business.
Contact Jim Hillibish at firstname.lastname@example.org.