Friday, June 15, 2007

Technical Support attitude!

(part of an ongoing saga. See the previous articles, as well - here and here)

Just because you buy a PC form a certain manufacturer, that doesn’t entitle you to owning the tech. Owning – as in - I called tech support and Owned the tech, or The customer called me and I owned him – both examples do NOT apply. The only thing you own is the pc, nothing more, and not even the software on it. You are only allowed to use the software, you don’t own squat. Remember that the next time you call for technical support. And all you technicians out there in help desk land, you need to listen as well. You don’t have the right to be rude, or talk down to the customer no matter how much you may think they deserve it. You don’t own anything either – You both need each other! No tech = no support, No customer = nothing to support = no job.

Nothing turns a tech support call south than attitude, whether it’s the customer - either out of frustration, or a false sense of superiority, or the technician from a long day at the office, or inability to deal with newbies. Communicating technical support problems and solutions is not easy by any means. It takes a special knack to fix a problem without seeing it, and describing a problem to a technician when you’re not a technician. Try it sometime, as a test, maybe try telling your spouse of children how to make a sandwich over the phone, and give them every detail of how you want it made. Harder than you think!

Customers – Do not challenge the technician, let them initiate the call, and go through their procedures. They do this every day and are trained to deliver a speedy solution. Let the technician speak, and keep your answers to a minimum yes or no. The technician will take you through the steps to get you off and running as quick as he can.

If you do not agree with his solution, or feel that he has not completed the task, politely explain your concerns and continue the call. If you are polite and explain your concerns calmly, you will be able to work with them until the problem is resolved.

If the solution provided is not acceptable, or inadequate, again say so. If you have reached the end of the road, then ask to be escalated to 2nd level support. Note that you cannot just haphazardly ask to be escalated. It’s like a get out of jail free card, use it wisely. Make sure you are entitled to the support you are requesting. Make sure the product you are having problems with is indeed covered under your support warranty.

No, Microsoft Office does not come with Windows! So forget about yelling at the PC manufacturer because they won’t support you for free. Call Microsoft.

Don’t even think about getting angry or name calling! Technicians have enough stress fixing problems, let alone social working. Want to end a call and get nowhere? Try raising your voice or calling a tech a name. And don’t think they don’t share information. They can easily put a note in your history that says rude, or irate, or that you name call. See what kind of support you get the next time you call. And you know what, You deserve it. You ever call your mechanic a name, how about your doctor? I think you get the point. Respect and love your tech! It’s all good!

Technicians – Not every caller is stupid, and they are people too. Try putting a smile on your face before you answer the call. Believe it or not you mood is transparent to callers, and a bad mood can turn a routine call into a supervisor’s glare in an instant. Your tone of voice can be misinterpreted and sound like you are a computer god – dictating to your minions. Vocal inflections, or worse yet a monotone voice will convey the no-care , I’m better than you attitude. You’re there for 8 hours, might as well relax and stay awhile.

Bored, feeling burnt out? Been on the same product queue for months, ask to be cross trained and breed some new life and interest into your tech support abilities. If you know you’re going to be in this product queue for a while, find ways to make it interesting. Try to streamline the common answers. Think about the questions you often solve. Think about the questions and answers you ask the customer and find a way to improve the process. If you ask questions and the customer asks you to repeat it, then reword it.

If your call is too cold and stiff, try making light, talk about the weather, offer some friendly advice to avoid problems such as the customer is experiencing. Offer some links, or websites for reference – check with your employer’s policies first though, make sure you’re not breaking any rules, or sending them to the competition!

If you don’t know the answer – say so. Don’t bother confusing the matter. Tell the customer you don’t know the answer, and try to find the answer. If you cannot, offer them some tips to finding it themselves. Or call them back with the information – again, if your company allows that practice.

Scripts – By now, you must have the caller greeting script permanently forged in your brain. Try changing it slightly to suit your personality. That can work wonders in your attitude and customer perceptions. You’re not a robot and we know that!

Let the man speak – by god man! We know its frustrating listening to a non technical person explain their problem. They get emotional and tell you everything except what you need to hear to fix the problem. Regardless, part of your job – admit it or not – is to counsel and advise. You have to help the customer as well as the problem they are experiencing. This takes a good ear, some compassion, and some patience! You never know who is on the other end of the phone. Respect the customer, and all is good!

Without customers, there are no jobs. And of course, we’re all someone else’s customer at some point.