Scribbled by David Pareira Greditzer
I have been watching the diatribes penned against tech support departments for some time now. This morning, I read "Lexmark Misses The Mark," by Frank Pagano. The problems with tech support are indeed rampant, but it is not fair to blame the whole thing on "them." Frank, you hit the nail on the head when you state that most tech support is geared toward the newcomer. This is absolutely true. While I was doing tech support, 95% of the inquiries came from people who should not own a computer, or a car, or ever have children.
Your other guess is also on the mark. A tech support department receives an overwhelming volume of email and phone traffic. It would be literally impossible to read, analyze, and handwrite an answer to everyone who could not figure out how to resolve a driver issue - especially with a new OS like XP. Do you think that the best, brightest, and most brilliant XP professionals are lining up to work at Lexmark for $13 an hour? Guess again. Entry- level people, some with NO computer background, fill most tech support positions. These are drones who sit at a PC, have their mail sorted for them by keywords (i.e. driver, cable, etc.), and then they select the response that they feel is most appropriate. The majority of these tech support folks would not know a USB cable if you strung them up with it.
Their productivity is measured by the quantity of traffic handled, not by the quality. Most users who get a nebulous or inaccurate response either give up, or hire some computer "expert" to come to their home and "help" them. Either way, the tech support rep (TSR) is happy, his boss is happy, and the corporation is happy, because the user is out of the queue. Think about this: would you want a job where you sit in a little box, surrounded by other drones, working for an evil boss who still does not know how to format a hard drive, or even set the clock on her four-year old VCR, tapping away at a grungy keyboard, answering the same insipid questions for moronic people, day after day after day? Please remember that these are the people who, quite literally in many cases, were working at Jiffy Lube last week!
If you need help, use the Web. Start with the company's site, but don't expect much there. Use Google, and the [Usenet] newsgroups. Call a smart person, if one exists in your circle of friends. Do your homework before entering the quagmire of tech support. If you have a legitimate issue, ask for the problem to be escalated. This goes for those seeking help on lost orders, missing parts, etc. Remain calm, document your needs, and be prepared to tell your story over and over and over again. These are not NASA engineers, folks - just working stiffs.
If you persist, eventually you will break through the IQ barrier, and you will reach someone with a modicum of education and intelligence. This is typically the third or fourth level of escalation above the person answering your first inquiry. If the really smart people were accessible to everyone with a driver or cable issue, these people would soon wonder why they DID get CS degrees, and seek careers in Automobile Parts and accessories. The rule of thumb in tech, as well as in most areas in business, is that the first point of contact is the person who can help you the least. Your job is to get past this person, as this is the person doing the job everyone wants to be promoted out of.
I guess I missed the part where we were all promised Life, Liberty, Justice for All, and Tech Support staffed by Highly- Trained, Well-Paid, Motivated Employees. We all want fifty-dollar printers, and are aghast when Steven Hawking does not answer our email. If you eat fast food, don't cry about how bad your waiter is.