When it Comes to Tech Support, Don’t Insist on Less

It’s no secret, website, domain and other technical products bought online these days may need a bit of support. Today though, the term support is as loosely splashed about as the term sexy; it leaves everything up to interpretation and is always painfully subjective (and sometimes liquor helps).

More worthy of note this year is how support is distributed; this has become a marker for what kind of support you will encounter. The time has come to understand this and learn to take advantage of what works rather than hang on to “what we know” because it’s what we know.

The telephone, for technical support, gets 2 out of 10 points

It’s natural for the consumer to gravitate toward what they know, and in this case that means most people instinctively look for a toll free number (on a website) when suddenly needing help.

Try calling your cable company (traditionally bound to the phone for support) to say you find your internet speed to be slow. Note how much time is spent troubleshooting, if you are even patched to a real tech. Instead of any kind of line testing, many customer service phone reps first steer you toward the notion that you actually want a bigger package and conduct their communication accordingly. That will also fix the problem, and it’s often got perks for the rep.

Most of today’s toll free help lines are not affiliated with the product you bought; “call centres” are prevalent and once you hang up the same customer service person may well help the next caller with a shower curtain order. There’s no training in any field, just in how to move you through a series of steps that, with luck, produces income and at least gets you to hang up without a refund and somewhat satisfied with the outcome.

Even if you do talk to a helpful person, and even if they come up with all the right solutions, the second you hang up that person is… gone. You got their first name only, and no idea which of the 7 call centres they are in. There is absolutely NOTHING you have that can prove you have anything. So if your fix isn’t implemented (gee that never happens to me) back to the phone you go; another 25 minutes wasted.

The telephone is great to say Happy Birthday, Happy Mother’s Day, and Happy New Year, but it truly sucks for the consumer if used for customer service.

The Forum, for technical support, gets 6 out of 10 points

Easily the coldest method of help out there today, but to some people also the most appreciated. A forum service desk lets you post questions, and answers will come forth from other users (some forums allow that) as well as moderators. The idea in a forum setting is that your one question will be asked again by someone else, and this way the solution is recorded for all to see.

This is great but it assumes you know the use of Boolean and care to employ it to see if someone else phrased their issue the same as you do yours. You need to be patient to get help with what amounts to technical frustrations to begin with and if you ever ventured to using one you have likely seen one can also be chastised for using the wrong word, category, or just for  asking something that was asked before (there’s that Boolean again;)

A forum help system works very well where clients purchase things like software; a symbiotic relationship grows freely because the client is usually almost as techy as the supplier.

The great advantage to a forum is the solutions are usually quick because lots of people see your issue. You can also look back at it anytime.

Help Desk, for technical support, gets 10 out of 10 points

The Help Desk is the new darling of support methods for many good reasons, most of which favor the consumer. While most customers are put off by the whole idea of a support desk initially, after using one that is well run it becomes clear why it’s just better.

A help desk records the date and time of your initial outline. You will be able to monitor how fast people respond and it also records the solution. You can refer back to that solution anytime and not have to call again (and go over all the same info again, and hope the call center rep didn’t go for coffee right after you hung up).

A good help desk is secure – no telephone is secure in any way shape for format. Your calls are always being listened to by nosy neighbors who can buy the equipment at your local Source Store to do it with.

Another nice thing about help desks is that the management often monitors them; you’ll likely always get good service because it’s going to be audited by management at some point as a matter of course.

Delegation in the end is key though; company and large organization managers are already hip to the concept of delegation and small business owners (even personal site owners) are now catching on. The average customer support phone call takes up to 25 minutes out of your day, but filling out a ticket takes 2 and you leave the issue in someone else’s capable hands.

For new people to the net, Help Desks are almost an insult; but that’s because it’s something new to learn, it’s got nothing to do with the overall effectiveness of the system.

Insisting any supplier of technology use a telephone only gives away an apprehension toward learning something new.

Consider  learning to use your help desks before you wind up insisting your way right into … less.