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Doofus of the Unspecified Time Period: How To Keep Your Tech Happy

 

TechTygerTechTyger had a website (known as The Doofus of the Unspecified Time Period) where he posted stories from Call Center Hell. At our encouragement, he's submitting his stories for RHU's enjoyment!

From: TechTyger

Welcome to the self-help portion of the website. Help for me and my fellow technicians, and help for you, the user. We don't specifically try to irritate you. We want you off our phone as quickly as possible, and you want your problem fixed as quickly as possible. Hopefully, this will help everybody get what we want.

1. Be at your computer. I can't stress this enough. If you have a computer problem, we need you to be at your computer. We can't pretend that you're at your computer because there are things we need to know about it as it stands. Having a working phone next to it is also important. Sometimes it's necessary to check a large number of settings, and having to wait a minute between each of them while you run back and forth is a pain.

2. Have the computer booted up (If the problem is not "my computer won't boot"). We understand that sometimes the system just won't start. That's fine. But if it will, don't make us waste time waiting for the thing to boot up.

3. Have the error message on the screen, or write it down exactly as it shows on the screen, if for some reason you can't. Telling us it said something about the modem but you don't remember tells us nothing useful. It is best to leave it on the screen so you can read it to us directly.

4. Tell us what the problem is, specifically. Don't say "A week ago I had a problem but it went away after a while, and my baby was throwing up on the keyboard a couple of days later. I got a new keyboard, though. Do you think [$keyboard_maker] is a good one? I think they charged me too much. But my cousin Bertha said she likes their keyboards because they come in the ky00test translucent orange...[yak yak yak, blah blah blah]", say "When I tried to open a website, I got 'Internet Explorer has performed an illegal operation.'" Small talk is fine while waiting for a reboot, or for Scandisk to finish or something. But wait until it's appropriate. Don't try and analyze the problem yourself; you obviously don't know what it is, or you wouldn't have called us. Just give us the facts and let us figure it out.

Call center 35. Don't volunteer information.This is similar to, but not the same as, #4. We will ask you what we need to know. All we need right off is your name, and (depending on how the system works where you're calling) a problem number. Where I work, we have call entry people who take the call and information such as your phone number and name, then route it to the appropriate technicians. Telling us what kind of computer you have, how big a HD, the speed of the CDRom drive, etc, generally doesn't matter to us. If we do need the information, we'll ask you for it.

6. Don't change any settings. You don't know what they do, and it makes it a huge pain in the neck for us to fix them. If you absolutely must change them, then when you call in when it doesn't work, tell us. This way we don't spend an hour trying to figure out why it's acting oddly, and can just repair the damage you did.

7. Listen to what you are being told, and do only that. Don't assume you know what we're going to do, you're almost always going to be wrong, and will only cause problems. If we tell you to open the control panel, don't rush into the modems icon, as we might have to check some network settings. If we tell you to 'close all the windows you have open', this does not mean 'shut the computer down'.

8. When you have followed an instruction, confirm that you have done so. When you're told to click on start, do so, then say 'Ok', or whatever. Don't just sit there. We can't see your screen, and only know what you are telling us. If you haven't told us the start menu is open, we have no way to know.

9. Don't start a call by demanding to know if a server is down. Most of you wouldn't know a down server if it started humping your leg. Describe your problem [Briefly, as in #4 above] and let us determine what your problem is. If a server is down, we generally know it long before you do, and will tell you at the beginning of the call.

10. Don't ask for a second opinion. You don't know enough about your system to know if we are incorrect, and having someone who doesn't know anything call into question our professional competence really irritates us. If we are not sure of an answer, we will talk to someone else and there's your second opinion; if we are sure of it, then anyone else will tell you the same thing.

11. Remember that we are people, too. We are not a really good AI system. Sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes we forget things and have to check something more than once. Sometimes what we need to do to fix a problem can make it worse. Sometimes, no matter what anyone does, you will lose data. We will try and help you as much as we can, but if you insult us or call us liars long enough, eventually something will happen in return. This can range from having you count all the X's in the msdos.sys file {The file must be 1024 characters) to running a thorough scandisk (takes many hours, depending on the size of the HD), to, in extreme cases, destroying files. And you will never know. We want to help you. It's our job. It is not our job to take abuse. We did not make Windows crash and lose the Excel file that you've been working on for the last 10 hours without saving. We understand that you're annoyed. But we did not do it.

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Carolanne call centerAnd bonus expansion pack for AOLusers.

First, and foremost: Read and understand everything, and I mean all of it, at my original help file (the above). I'll whistle whilst you're gone.

You're back! Great. Now, the things that apply specifically to AOLusers.

Don't take this the wrong way. If you are pleasant to me, I will be pleasant to you. I will fix your problem as well as is possible in as short a time as possible, if you cooperate with me. I have a long string of surveys saying that I am the nicest person they'd talked to and I got the problem fixed quickly, and that I knew what I was doing. There are people out there who know they have a problem and just need some help fixing it. They listen to what I ask them to do, they do it, they acknowledge that they have done so, and they report the results. None of them are mentioned in this file.

1. The fact that AOL has free tech support does not in any way mean that AOL must support your entire computer. If you are having a problem with the mouse you just installed, call the manufacturer of the mouse, not AOL. Even if you bought it through AOL. AOL's free tech support is for the AOL software and we are not allowed to do anything else. This does not mean that we do not know how; it means that we'll be fired if we do.

Example: While monitoring a n00b, a woman who had bought a used DELL computer and had just gotten the DELL recovery CD for it, needed help running it. So, who does she call? Dell, you say? Howls of derisive laughter, Bruce! No, she calls AOL, because AOL tech support is free.

She doesn't even have an AOL account.

2. We don't need or want to hear how many people you've talked to already. We don't believe you anyway. It doesn't get your problem fixed any faster, and it wastes our time. We also don't care that most of them didn't speak English very well. It pisses us off that America Online is offshoring its technical support already. If it bothers you, complain to AOL about it. If you complain to AOL [not the techs] enough, they will listen to you.

2a. A related issue to the above; We don't care how long you've been on hold, how many times you've called in today, or how long you've been working on it, either. We get to you as soon as we can get to you, and if you spend ten minutes whining that you've been on hold, you've now made someone else wait another ten minutes, screwed up our call time, and made it take that much longer to fix your problem. And lying about how long you've been on hold just makes it worse; our phones will tell us precisely how long you've been on hold, and saying that you've been on hold for two hours when the phone says two minutes just means you start with two strikes against you.

Jason bored 2It changes nothing in how I handle the call for you to tell me that you've been working on this for an hour. Chances are, I've been at work longer than that, so I've got you beat.

3. DO NOT, under any circumstances, threaten to come beat us up or shoot us. Consider it. All you know is my first name, and maybe the city I'm in. I have your full name, your address, your phone numbers, and several other pieces of information. Starting a fight with your head up your ass is dumb to begin with. But in the second place, there are five hundred people in this building who have been taking abuse from people like you for years who would just love to talk to you.

4. We did not have anything to do with writing the AOL software. Don't ask us 'Why did you do X'. We didn't, and we probably think it's as dumb as you do, and given the opportunity, would fix it. But they don't ask us. Use the established feedback mechanisms (like keyword 'Tell Us') and tell AOL yourself. They don't listen to us.

5. We don't want to hear what you think the problem is. If you knew what it was, you would have fixed it yourself. You have called experts for help. Trust them. Tell us what the symptoms are. Tell us what it's doing. Don't start with 'Let me give you a little background'. There is never anything useful following those words, and it just wastes our time.

6. Do not demand to talk to a supervisor. If we feel you need to talk to a supervisor, you will. Beginning a call by demanding to speak to a supervisor will get you nowhere. Most of the supervisors are no longer familiar with the AOL software, and will tell you to listen to the tech. If you're enough of a pain in the ass about it, you will be transferred to the cancellation department. Techs are not paid to and do not have time to argue with you. And my supervisor does not want to know you.

6a. Another related item. Don't fish for credit. If I feel you deserve credit, you will get it. If you neep at me about how it's been down for a whole hour so you deserve the next month free, I will entirely ignore what you say. We do not give out credit for anything less than the connection being down for two weeks. The price you pay for an AOL DSL or cable connection comes out to around five cents an hour.

Another thing. If you start a call with 'My DSL connection hasn't worked in six months', and I look to see how many trouble tickets have been entered, and there are none, I will not believe you and will not be at all inclined to give you the credit for it you think you deserve. At best I will transfer you to the cancellation department, they will look up the usage logs and see how blatantly you are lying, and laugh in your face.

New Freddy 030a7. If you've installed a beta version, tell us. Beta versions are supported by a different group than the standard tech support for a reason. The features are different, the files are different, and things that we would routinely do to repair a problem in a normal version can totally trash a beta. The beta phone number is given to you when you sign up for it, but in case you forgot it, it's 1 877 320 4732, and open until 8.45pm Eastern time. We don't mind you calling us if you can't find the number, we're usually happy to transfer you to it.

8. AOL owns no cables or phone lines. If we tell you there's a system problem in your area, it means that your local phone company is having problems with their DSL or the cable company with the cable system. It is not AOL's fault. When we tell you that the phone company knows about it and is working on it, it means that everything that can be done about it is being done and all that yelling at the tech about it will get you is a dialtone. We have no reason to lie about there being a system outage.

9. Telling us that you run a business on a normal AOL account is meaningless. You are not, by the AOL terms of service which are available at keyword TOS, allowed to run a business on a standard account and AOL is not responsible for you not being able to get to Ebay. Telling us that you're losing 'thousands of dollars' is A) not our problem, B) wonderfully amusing to us, and C) bullshit.

If you tell me you're running a business on an AOL account, I will offer to transfer you over to the business billing department to get your billing updated, because you're on the wrong plan. The AOL business account guarantees uptime...at about ten times the cost.

10. Don't bother asking 'Is everyone having this problem?' The answer will always be 'No'. If the problem should, by some happenstance, actually be a widespread one, we will already know about it before you do, and if there is a fix for it, we will tell you. No one ever calls tech support to say that their computer is fine. People calling us always have problems.

11. We don't care how long you've been an AOL customer. It doesn't impress us. It doesn't matter to me whether you had your account back when it was 'New World Colonies Online' or if your account was only created ten minutes ago. You get treated the same. You have trouble, you call me, I will fix the trouble if at all possible. The person who 'inspired' me to reactivate the DoD page spent most of the hour I was on the call reminding me that he'd been an AOLuser for a very long time. And every time he went back into his rant, I muted and mocked him.

12. Please don't read us what's on screen unless we ask. We've done this more times then we can count and could probably quote everything on the screen to you. This especially applies to the process of your computer rebooting.

RHU Characters 25913. Don't bother saying "It worked (a minute ago / an hour ago / a week ago)". Even if it was true, so what? It's not working now, and that's why you called. Especially don't try and use that as a way to get us to give you the sekrit k0dez that will make your Lucky Dragon Yum-Cha Orchidtron 2000 router work. There aren't any. Our job is to fix your problem. If there is a way for us to do so without being fired, we will generally do so. If we tell you "That won't work." or "You can't do that with AOL." there is a reason, and no amount of whining, threatening or demanding to talk to a supervisor will change that.

14. Saying "It's just a quick question!" does not excuse you from giving us the information we need for our record. We don't care if you think it's a quick question. We don't care if all you want to know is how to spell AOL. Our job requires us to get this information. If we help you without this information we may be fired, as any information we give you without a record opens AOL up to liabilities if you do something stupid then blame us. And we don't care enough about you to want to lose our job.

15. Don't repeat the instruction we just gave you and ask if you're supposed to do that. When we ask you to do something, the entire point of asking you to do it is to have you do it. If you don't understand the instruction, that's one thing, but if I tell you to click on next, don't say "It says 'next' on this button. Should I click it?"

16. Don't take analogies too literally. When I use an analogy, it means I'm trying to explain something in a way you'll understand. If you call complaining about a mouse that you bought on a website that you got through AOL, I will refer you to the place you bought the mouse, which is not AOL. I may use the analogy "If you buy something through an ad in the newspaper, do you expect the newspaper to fix it for you when it breaks?" The proper answer to that question is 'No.' plus enlightenment. If you continue to whine at me for it, I will think you're an idiot. And I will be correct, and you will still not get support for the Yum Cha Lucky Dragon Orchidtron 2000 mouse that you bought with the dodecahedral mouse ball.

17. I don't want to be your friend. I am here to fix your problem if I can. I don't care what your dog barfed up, I don't want you to tell what your neighbors kids do, and I most assuredly do not want to hear any details of your medical life. At all.

18. Don't go 'What?' every damn time I say something. Don't ask me to repeat it, then ask if you're supposed to do something entirely different from what I told you to. If I say 'click on add/remove programs'I do not mean 'click on add new hardware'. If I meant 'click on add new hardware', I would have said 'click on add new hardware'. This is not a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' book. I am telling you to do something for a specific reason. If you don't listen to me and do something stupid, now I have to fix that too, as well as the original problem you caused.

--TechTyger

 

Comments

Jofur

I have a feeling I read your website regularly, if it was around in the 90's. AOL was mentioned a lot.

TechTyger

2003-2006ish for the AOhelL part (this post was actually two related but separate parts), 1995ish to 2003 for HAL.

TenebrisVenator

Can I steal this, please? I will credit you as the author, but so many people could benefit from this. I want to hang it in my cubicle for the IT impaired that bug me during the day, for the people that think because I sit next to them, or across the building from them, they don't need to follow procedures and can just walk up to me rather than calling the IT line, etc.
This is brilliant, TT

D

YES! This. Especially #6. How much time have we wasted having to not only fix the original problem, but the 4-5 new problems created by the ID10T trying to fix said original problem before seeking tech help?

Artificial Intelligence is no match for Natural Stupidity.

TenebrisVenator

Addendum to 14. If you say it is just a quick question, it almost never is and requires in-depth troubleshooting to resolve. A quick question is along the lines of what's the business support number. Not my connection times out when I try to download anything larger than 14 MB.

TechTyger

TenebrisVenator; sure, just put my name on it as you say. :) Share and Enjoy. All of the examples in it are calls I actually had at one point or another...

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