Always try to be polite. Good day all, this is the Angry Systems Administrator. It’s been a while and I thought I would give you my views on how to deal with Customer Support Representatives is you should need to contact them.
Like many in the Information Technology field, I started out as a Bob1 on the Helpdesk. I had to deal with people, usually very frustrated people, and both keep my cool and cool them down as I worked to fix their problems. Because of this background, I’ve always done my best to treat people in Customer Support well. Only once have I ever had to use the dreaded phrase, “Let me speak with your supervisor/manager.”
Because of this, I have a generally good reputation with those companies I occasionally have to call. I’ve heard a rumor that my customer file at Comcast has an entry that says “He knows more then you do, but is good to work with.”
Now, why am I bringing this up? Well, it’s tax time, and like millions of others, I use Turbotax. On two occasions over the last 10 years. I’ve had to call Turbotax about an issue. The first time was a few years ago when I tried to do an upgrade, (I had purchased the wrong version), and the damn thing wouldn’t install.
I spent a good 90 minutes on the phone with a woman doing the tech support call on the product. Knowing that she was under some really massive stress, I worked to make her job as easy as I could. By the time the call was completed, I had the woman in hysterics, she was laughing so hard. She was also able to find the solution to my problem, and in my opinion, far faster then if I had been screaming at her.
Well, I had to call Intuit support again yesterday. This wasn’t a software issue, it was a tax question. (The details are non of your business) The question was somewhat convoluted and I couldn’t find the answer in the help files. Obviously, it’s a very busy time for these people so when I called in, I was put on hold and serenaded with Muzak2 for about 20 minutes. (bleah)
The question I had was on a deduction I wanted to take. Was it allowed and if so, where did I enter i?. Once I was put through, there was a bit of a problem understanding the nice lady. I gather the call center was somewhere near Baton Rouge, judging by the very thick southern accent. I didn’t say anything, I just spoke politely to the CS Rep. As I explained my question to her, she started digging through her documentation. She made mention that her computer had just been changed out and it was taking her a bit longer to find things. I made the comment that “Those blasted IT people, always making life difficult for us common people.” To which she agreed. I then remarked that we needed to get our jollies somehow and that I worked as a systems administrator for several organizations. The way I said it was in just the right way to that I wasn’t being ornery, but trying to be humorous. I then said take her time, that I wasn’t in a rush. (I was, but that wouldn’t have helped anything)
The nice lady found my answer in a few minutes, and then we walked through where I needed to enter the data. This is where the second part of talking with Customer Service comes in, pretending you don’t know much, even when you do. These people have a set of steps they go through to handle a problem. These steps were put together by Developers, Quality Control and Assurance as well as senior CS people. It’s designed to help the technicians go through some very complicated processes with clients who may not know where the power switch is on their computers.
As we started working through things, I was missing a step. I wasn’t seeing something she was describing. Rather than get upset at her, I assumed it was me and let her know that I was missing something. She suddenly realized something about how my data had been entered prior to the call, and told me to look for a button. I found it, and said something like “Oh, I see it. It’s next to the 5 gallon mayonnaise jar in the refrigerator!”
That started her giggling and reduced the stress levels for her. Once the window she was looking for came up, I we worked together to get the information I wanted into the program, then we checked to make sure the forms were filled out correctly. (Damn IRS!) I made the comment that I really like the idea of a flat tax and just filling out a postcard each year, but then she would be out of work. Somehow, I don’t think she would have minded that to much from the chuckle I heard.
At this point, I had everything I needed and thank her for the help and time she took working with me. (Remember, ALWAYS say thank you. It pays dividends down the road. Being an ass gets you left on hold for a few weeks) I then made the comment, knowing the call was being recorded, that she had been a great help and that I said she should tell her manager she should be getting a big raise.
This, of course, made her day. She then informed me that I would be getting a survey in my email and that if I would fill it out, it would really help her out. This is another thing to remember. When you talk with a CS Rep, and you later get one of those forms, please fill them out. Managers do look at them. I will be the first to admit that I don’t always do this, but if I deal with a real live person, rather then an autobot, I try to make the effort.
Now, I have had to deal with really annoying people in the past. I’ve never worked on the front end Customer Service systems where I deal with corporate customers. I’ve always dealt with inside the company people. (Other employees) Since I have to see these people, I had to be on my best behavior. Still, there were a few who just couldn’t get it through their thick heads that they were wrong and I was right. Some of them would get really nasty with me. This is when having the department manager’s office within hearing distance along with a speakerphone came in handy.
The people who were really obnoxious might have to leave a message that we might return in a few hours. On the other hand, we had people who we fought over to assist. (It helped that they were female and extremely cute) It was interesting how the cute ones also tended to be the nicest ones, and the not so cute tended to be real pains in the behind. On a few, thankfully rare, occasions, I wold have to speak with the persons manager or supervisor about their behavior. In one case, the person was so obnoxious to the IT group, that even the supervisor had had enough and went to HR. That person was terminated a few days later.
The moral of that story is, “Always be nice to the Customer Service People. They can, if they want to, make your life a living hell. (Something that idiot Angry Webmaster should remember when he trashes his system yet again)
~The Angry Systems Administrator~
- The legend of the Bobs. When a client called, Bob would answer, even if his name was George [↩]
- elevator music [↩]