Have you heart this old email joke?

Top 10 Things You Don’t Want to Hear From Tech Support:

10  “Do you have a sledgehammer or a brick handy?”

9  “…that’s right, not even MacGyver could fix it.”

8  “So — what are you wearing?”

7  “Duuuuuude! Bummer!”

6  “Looks like you’re gonna need some new dilythium crystals, Cap’n.”

5  “Press 1 for Support. Press 2 if you’re with 60 Minutes. Press 3 if you’re with the FTC.”

4  “In layman’s terms, we call that the Hindenburg Effect.”

3  “Hold on a second… Mom! Timmy’s hitting me!”

2  “Okay, turn to page 523 in your copy of Dianetics.”

1  “Please hold for Mr. Gates’ attorney.”

This came to mind as I had to do some tech support interaction today. If you have a WordPress website (and that’s about 30 percent of all the websites in existence), you may be familiar with the plug-in JetPack. It’s mainly a website backup tool in case your site gets vaporized, and also protects against hacking. I’ve been having some issues with the plugin and my site working together. I was instructed by WordPress to seek tech support from Bluehost, which provides my web hosting. Not wanting to call (more on that in a minute), I initiated a chat session.

Here is where I have to move carefully, but believe me, there’s no malicious intent…

The main thing people in the Western Hemisphere dread about calling tech support is being routed to someone in the Eastern Hemisphere who doesn’t speak your language very well. The individuals are humans like everybody else, trying to earn income to support themselves and their families. But the companies that staff these call centers could do a better job of ensuring their people can easily communicate with the people on the other side of the world that will be calling them. I’m also not fond of the practice of the reps calling themselves by American names. Jeff Foxworthy once said, “I called the computer help line and the guy said his name was Kevin. I’m thinking, ‘Really? I would guess that your name has two fewer vowels than the name Kevin’ has.”

I have found that almost all of them write English far better than they can speak it, and thus chat sessions are much easier on everyone’s nerves than phone calls. In this case, after nearly 30 minutes, we were unable to resolve my issue. I told the tech guy I had another option I could pursue with WordPress and would try that. So I’m still working on getting JetPack to back up my site. But isn’t that how most tech support things go? They almost always take multiple contacts, and often, multiple providers, to get issues resolved. I’ve written about customer service before, but I’m going to highlight a couple of things I observed today that any business owner can use to help in their interactions.

Listen – What I have noticed about technological devices, such as PCs, printers, phones and the like is that each rep is armed with a document that has basic steps that they are required to walk every customer through, no matter what the issue is. I call this “reading the cue card.” You know how it goes. “First, you need to re-boot the device. If that doesn’t work, you need to power it down, unplug it, wait 5 minutes, then plug it back in and power it back up. Then you need to go into device settings and….”

Since you have already done all these things 3 times, your temper has risen to boiling. Those of us providing a service to people need to ensure we are listening to what the customer is saying. In the case of these device support guys, they have to ask those questions. I really appreciated one rep I talked to who said, “I assume you have already rebooted, unplugged an restarted, correct?” I said, “Yes, and thank you for not assuming I have the IQ of a dying cockroach and presenting those as real solutions.” Call center reps are under pressure to go through as many calls as possible, so they’re always in a hurry to rush you off the phone or chat screen – again, not the rep’s fault – but if you’re not a call center rep, you’re better off taking the time to ensure the customer is heard. This will greatly decrease the number of curse words hurled in your direction.

Be A Pro – This morning I did my normal Tuesday-Friday plasma donation and was waiting on the bed for my buddy Melisa. She arrived and I could see she was haggard and flustered. It was because they were under-staffed, again. I said well, I’ll try to behave. She said, “well, we never have any issues with you. Some people…” then she turned toward the next bay of beds and said, “I’ll be right there, Mr. Williams.” Then she looked back at me and gave an epic eye-roll. Obviously this was a donor that had established a reputation for stirring up some kind of trouble. But Melisa kept her cool, and after getting my donation going, went over and took care of whatever issue was going on. I could see her from my bed, and she just kept an even keel. This is hard to do when a customer is causing a ruckus or doesn’t like what you are offering. But many times, it will help defuse the building tension.

Be A Good Customer – I’ve mentioned this before too. All of us who are providers of goods or services will at some point be the customer seeking goods and services ourselves. How do we do in that role? Do we get easily irritated? Do we get loud, obnoxious, or even abusive when something goes wrong? If we do, then we really don’t have any room to complain when customers do it to us. When my donation was finished, I had to wait a few minutes to get unhooked. When Trena arrived to take me off the machine, she apologized for me having to wait. I said, “no apology necessary; I can see y’all moving 100 mph and still not keeping up. I’m not going to give you any grief.” She said that was relieving, as some others weren’t so understanding, even though they were 4 people short. They normally have 10 people working, including the ones in the lab processing the completed donations. So they were REALLY under-staffed. We certainly need to empathize as providers, but we also need to empathize as customers.

Do you have any epic tech support or customer service stories? 

Are you short-changing your customers because you have too much to do? A Virtual Assistant can help you with those necessary things that take time away from your customers. Contact Us and we can see how we can partner to help you ramp up that service to your customers.