So, as you may know, I do telephone technical support for a small software company. At the very beginning of every call, before I can assist a customer with anything else, I need to get their account number. Account numbers are usually 3, 4, or 5 digits long, and all numbers. For some reason, two out of three (maybe it’s more, certainly not less) people who call in, seem unable to clearly state their account number on the first try. People with three or four digit account numbers are very likely to utter an extra syllable immediately before their account number (“uhn-two-two-four” “One, Two, Two, Four?” “No! two-two-four!”). People with five-digit account numbers are very likely to pause after three or four digits for as long as several seconds. (“one-four-five” “Okay, Bill, what can I help you-” “two-six” … “is that One, Four, Five, Two, Six?” “Yes. one-four-five-two-six” … “Okay, Fred…”)
And the guy who called in when I was writing this listed off a problem, I suggested a solution, and he said “No. That’s not it.” and he’ll have his personal technician call us back later to tell us what’s wrong. He doesn’t seem to understand the purpose of calling tech support.
I get the feeling that the last person I spoke to will be calling back later today, and that that call will result in the first “formal” complaint lodged against me. I suppose that management will say there is merit to his claim, because for the third time in the last three weeks I should have allowed him to verbally abuse me, to call me up and say he had a problem (a problem that he caused by doing the opposite of what we did on the last two calls, for the third time), and when I told him the solution, to allow him to tell me it was not the correct solution, to find some way to explain to him that despite his obviously failing memory that his reversed idea of what should be done is what has caused the problem in the first place without upsetting him somehow (not sure that’s possible, since it seems to have been me telling him that what be believes he did to “fix it” was what caused the problem in the first place that upset him). Management will see to it that this goes into my permanent record, and maybe find some way to prevent me to get bonuses and raises in the future. Because I had trouble letting someone who was wrong, in the same way he was wrong twice before, berate me and not believe what I had to say about something that I am THE EXPERT ON at this desk, in the same way he has twice before.
Continue reading My first complaint
For a variety of reasons, some of which having to do with my ability to handle calls faster than other technicians, but also with their avoiding calls (sometimes legitimately, I’ll admit, but often less-so) left and right, I consistently take more calls than anyone else here. I always have. I don’t try to. I used to make myself believe I wanted to, but now … I don’t want to. I don’t seem to like taking so many calls. So many more calls than anyone else. I’ve been working on taking more breaks and not hurrying when on with customers who don’t really need any more help, and I haven’ taken double anyone’s call volume in a while, but I’m still 10-30% ahead of the next guy in the pack. It’s overwhelming sometimes, because when it seems the worst, I’ll be taking call after call after call, faster and faster as I realize that each of the other technicians has been on the phone with the same customer for 15.. 20.. 40 minutes while I’ve been talking to every other person who decided to call in. Sure, I also get calls that last a long time, but not nearly as many as these guys. Sometimes I can’t even tell they’re on a call; they just sit quietly, playing online games, not saying a word – presumably they are listening or waiting for something to happen, but … it happens an awful lot. I just get frustrated sometimes.
Maybe I should sleep more on Sunday nights, so I don’t get so frustrated Monday mornings.
I know I have a bad attitude, but I don’t know how to change it. You see, when I am talking with certain customers about certain types of issues, I get very upset. I seem to end up with the attitude that there is something wrong with the person I am talking to and that it is an inconvenience to me that they are wasting my time, and that their very existence is an affront to me. What makes the attitude bad is that there is nothing wrong with the customers themselves. These customers are simply trying to get a solution to a problem they are experiencing with our software.
The reason I end up with such a bad attitude is because it reflects how I feel about the problem they are experiencing, and I seem to associate callers with their problems. These problems, you see, are inherent problems in our software and cannot be solved or even addressed by myself or anyone else on this technical support desk. These are inherent flaws in the programming, sometimes in Windows, but usually I don’t get as upset over those. These are problems for which no matter what actions I take and no matter how much I want to assist the customer, at the end of the call they will have just as much of a problem as they had before the call. Except that now they’re upset and I’m upset and we both know that nothing can be done.
I guess these are the sort of situations I should be the most supportive and calm in, but these customers are already pretty upset, since they’ve got such work-stopping issues, and I’m already upset, since I haven’t been provided with any way to assist them, and it just gets out of hand very quickly. Because they’re certain there’s something else I could do, because it isn’t working yet, and I’m technical support so when they call me I’m supposed to be able to make it work, right? Damnit. I hate it. I tried bringing it up with the lead programmer the last time I was allowed to talk to him directly (a meeting about customers complaining about me not providing them with technical support), and he didn’t have any answer at all. No response.
I just don’t seem to know how to end a conversation so that the customer is happy and is satisfied with the outcome, even though they are at least as bad off as when they started. It seems to much like a lie to be something I really want to figure out, though. I just don’t know what to do.
I’m about to claw my own eyes out. The customer I’m talking to is having trouble understanding the difference between one window and the next, and can’t remember from one second to the next whether she has selected the text she wants to copy or not and whether she has hit copy or not or whether she did so in the window she was trying to copy from or the window she was trying to paste into or maybe some other window, and worse, she doesn’t know that she doesn’t understand what’s going on. So when I explain carefully to her what to do, and then ask her if she’s done what I asked, she says she has, and doesn’t seem to know any better. Except that I can tell right away whether this is true, because the data isn’t in the right place yet!
And this wasn’t even what she called about! This was something she wanted to complete just before we got to what she called about! After thirty-five minutes, we are just now getting to the actual reason she called. What the heck! Does this ever end?