Tech “support” is all the rage

Wonder why it’s frustrating to get customer support from customer support? Feeling helpless when you try to get help from your cable company or mobile device provider? Do you now or have you ever suffered from what mental health experts are calling “tech support rage?”

According to a recent analysis by The New York Times, there’s a simple answer for why companies that are so eager to sign you to long-term contracts are so reluctant to follow up with short-term assistance:

They just don’t care.

I’m sure you’re as stunned to hear that as I was. If there’s one thing of which all those television commercials had convinced me it’s that my cable company and mobile service provider exist solely for the opportunity to make me happy as a clam or similar mollusk. But, as the Times’ story reported, “ …companies are aware of the torture they are putting you through.

“According to a survey conducted last year by the industry group International Customer Management Institute, or ICMI, 92 percent of customer service managers said their agents could be more effective and 74 percent said their company procedures prevented agents from providing satisfactory experiences.”

Some of the companies even use something called a “cost-per-contact model,” limiting the time agents can be on the phone with you. When that time runs out, they can switch you to a different agent, put you on hold or “accidentally” disconnect you. Others will automatically put you on hold so they can force you to listen to recorded commercials for the company’s other products.

Fortunately, the story offers helpful suggestions for getting help.

  • Instead of calling, use social media such as tweeting or Facebook to contact the company. Which only is helpful if being unable to tweet or use Facebook is not the reason for your call in the first place.
  • Follow the prompt for “sales” or “to place an order,” which, instead of a recording, will connect you with an actual person to whom English is not a third language; he or she will be eager to sell you even more services that will require frustrating experiences with tech support in the future.
  • Demanding to speak with a supervisor probably is a waste of time. What usually happens is that they’ll just transfer you to a different agent along with a warning such as, “Oh my god, it’s that same idiot who called yesterday. Or maybe he’s BEEN on the phone since yesterday.”
  • Above all, the story recommends, keep your cool. Instead of going off on the agent, count to 10 while you’re on hold.

Or, in the case of my cable company, count to 10 million.

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