Thursday, December 11, 2008

What it's like being at Tech Support

A much appreciated submission follows. Number 5 is especially interesting to me:

Out of all the employees that work for CPI, the folks who work for tech support are probably the most misunderstood. Long wait times, an inexperienced tech, and equipment that doesn't want to cooperate wears on everyone's nerves. I just wanted to drop a line letting some of you guys know what it's really like to work on the other side of the phone, potentially dispel some myths that are out there about us, and give some advice as to how to make your wait times shorter.

1. We know your job is hard. Nearly all of us have been in at least one studio. Most of us have been to install studios, from top to bottom with the digital roll out. We have seen the uncooperative kids, the parents who yell, scream, and hit them, and what you have to go through on a daily basis. If we haven't seen it, we have at least heard it on the phone. And, most of us thing you deserve a medal for what you do. Working here is hard, and you go through a lot, and we know that.

2. We really are here to help you. I know this seems unbelievable. But, if we didn't like talking to people on the phone, we'd be repair technicians, where we wouldn't have to talk to anyone.

3. Our jobs are really very hard. I never knew some members of the field didn't think so, until I saw an area manager in the home office smoking lounge loudly declare that we could all be replaced my monkeys. It takes 6 months to get a new tech up to speed that has previous technical experience (college degree or former tech support) and over a year for someone with no experience to become a good tech. There is a lot to learn, not just for Sears, but for Picture Me, Buy Buy Baby, and all of the other concepts we have. Canada and Puerto Rico SPS? Oh, their systems are different too. We have to know all of that stuff before we can even pick up the phone and talk to you.

4. Most of us are not idiots. A lot of us have been with the company for a long time. A lot of us have been around in the field, flying from place to place, helping out real, live studios. Of course, these trips weren't mandatory, but we went anyway. A lot of us give up holidays (like Thanksgiving) to assist SPS and Canadian studios (who don't celebrate Thanksgiving on the same day as the US). A lot of us have had detailed technical training in the form of either a 2 or a 4 year degree, both of which CPI did not pay for. And some of us, due to the economy, have serious qualifications and certifications that in normal conditions, would net us double the salary that we are making at CPI.

5. We are held to the same difficult standards that you are. PRS for you guys equals call volume for us. We don't take enough volume, we are going to be in trouble. 3 tardies (even 1 minute late) or absences in 30 days? That's a write-up. Another one? That's another write up. Another one? You're fired. Too many complaints from a studio even if it's over nonsense? You're fired. And every January, we have layoffs, every year like clockwork. This year we are having November and January layoffs. You're probably thinking: Layoffs? I'm the 80th caller on hold, what the hell? That's right people. You see, the big wigs over this department have told us that we are a "liability"; that the field goes out and makes the money, and that our salaries are liabilities, since we make "no money". When you see the stock plummet, don't get a wage increase, or see other indicators that CPI isn't doing well, odds are we are having layoffs here at the home office.

And now for the good part, how to make the queue volume better:

Nothing says "another day in paradise" like taking 50 calls in a 4 hour period, and having the 51st studio chew you out over the queue volume *sigh*. Please don't chew us out. If you have been reading this so far, you have seen that call volume is largely beyond our control.

1. Don't put the most inexperienced person in the studio on the phone to talk to us. Please, for crying out loud. If I ask the person the studio number and they're stumped and have to ask you, they are going to ask you everything else too. You might as well take the call in the first place. "But, but, I'm busy like hell, you say". Didn't you just hear that we had 80 calls in queue??? Now I have to train your noobie how to troubleshoot. That makes the queue worse, because a call I could resolve in 10 minutes with an experienced person now takes 45.

2. Try to help yourself before calling. No power to your computer? Verify the power connections. Plug it in somewhere else. Try to turn it on. No DSL connection? Unplug the power to your DSL and VPN. Light not flashing? Power off your pack, press test, and replace the bulb. Don't know how to load media into the Shinko? There's a document with pictures on the browser. If it still doesn't work, THEN call us.

3. Please don't bitch us out. It drags the morale and productivity down on this end of the line. Most of us are doing the best we can. Yes, we know that little Suzie's mother just chewed you out, probably over something beyond YOUR control. But, we are here to resolve your technical issue, not to take your abuse or be your whipping boy(s). ALL calls are recorded. People have been fired over what they have said to technicians on the phone. And, we can hear pretty much everything that is going on in the background, really well, thanks to the neat headsets we have. All of the background stuff is recorded too. We complain and the call is pulled. My manager sends it to your DM, and things go from there, depending on severity.


Anonymous said...

I will say, waiting sucks. But, im one of the ppl who talk to to tech ppl when we get them on the phone. I cant stand "silence" while a problem is being fixed. I get made fun of by my employees, but it seems i have a MUCH easier time getting my problems fixed and it makes time on the phone seem shorter. Its fun to learn about their lives =)

Ive only had a problem one time, when i was told that my problem was that someone tampered with my power box (to my lights)and i needed to physically look at my box. well, considering my box is literally 12Ft high up on the wall and i couldnt see on Top of it even with a Ladder and there was so much dust on it the stickers werent visible on it anymore...... it wasnt tampered with. even tho i told him this, he talked to me like i was stupid and it just HAD to of been messed with. I was really irked to say the least so i definitely got rude with him. i called, again, and talked to another tech who actually fixed my problem and was nice about it.

BTW...... ive always wondered how many times a day a tech hears "I can SEE you!!" LMAO

Anonymous said...

I always had great experiences with the tech support employees. They were usually friendly and never seemed frazzled. I'm glad to read this and it's almost like this should be shared company wide because there are obviously problems with people being disrespectful to tech support employees. That is too bad. I wouldn't want to have that job at all.

Anonymous said...

I have nearly always had good experience with tech support people. Just so you know, you ARE appreciated...there is so much that could not be done without you!!!
Sometimes I feel bad shooting the breeze with a tech support person when the studio is busy, but it's easier than putting a new person on the phone who has no clue what the tech support specialist is asking them to do.
Actually, talking to a tech support person has the potential to be the only "normal" conversation of the day. Conseqently, it's sometimes the high point of my shift :)

Anonymous said...

The only worry I have about long wait times is I just know about 30% of those people in queue are calling about stupid shit (like not knowing how to load paper in the Shinko.) I, too, am one of those people that will chit chat with the tech support people on the phone, I know their day is just as crazy as mine. Plus, if you're nice to them they'll be nice to you! The biggest thing I've learned from dealing with tech support over the years (with CPI and other companies) is to ask "If this happens again, can I fix it without calling you?" Many times the answer is yes and it saves you and them tons of headache! I now manually reset my VPN every week instead of calling tech support every week because my server is stuck.

Anonymous said...

Maybe some of the shortcuts offered by tech support should be published somewhere- like in a tech support handbook. Instead, alot of these tips are kept secret. I never had any problems with tech with the exception of a tech supervisor by the name of Chris, who was female, but sounded just like a man. She got a little upset after I kept calling her "sir". This was several years back...I heard she got fired. Probably for being a little too sensitive;)

Anonymous said...

I think it's terrible that they try to make your jobs seem less valuable because you aren't making money in the field. That's really disturbing to me. Don't they realize that without tech support,the field would fall apart and wouldn't be able to make that precious money?