After experiencing some extremes of customer service in the last ten days, I’ve been wondering once again why Customer and Technical Support is so often disappointing. Here’s a good example: I walked into a pizza place last week and stood within a few feet of the counter while the several employees there made a heroic effort to avoid eye contact until they were ready to deal with me. I was there for probably five to ten minutes or more before they even acknowledged me.
Another example of what I believe is terrible service is the automated customer service phone system of my credit card company. I won’t mention the name here, but it’s one of the biggest ones out there. When you call up their customer service line, you’re immediately trapped in menu hell and there is no option for speaking to a human. You’re locked into whatever subset of tasks they decide to provide you with. I honestly believe they intend for some of their customers to just give up because it’s too much trouble.
I also experienced the other extreme after I signed up for hosting service about a week and a half ago. I posted about Bluehost last week because I was so impressed with the responsiveness of their staff. Their Live Chat Tech Support is awesome. It was exactly what I needed and when I needed it. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting them to be that helpful.
So the question remains, why is Tech/Customer Support so often so bad and why are we surprised or even shocked when it’s good? Here are the Top Five Reasons I’ve been able to come up with:
1. Acceptance. We just accept it. This is the number one reason why Support is so bad. We accept mediocrity and don’t demand excellent service. Maybe we’re too busy or whatever, but we just sigh and go on after crappy service.
2. Conflict Avoidance. We are trained in school to avoid conflict. Instead of pointing out that the service is bad, we just quietly move on. Though more people who are dissatisfied will complain than people who are happy with service will offer praise, most people will still just suck it up rather than making a big deal of it.
3. Politeness. It seems that about half of us are trained to be polite and the other half simply have no notion of decorum. Those of us who are polite don’t often point out when the other half is not and those of us who are not polite, don’t even notice.
4. Unreasonable Expectations. Some people are just nit-pickers. Who hasn’t stood in line behind the old guy who argues about the 22 cents difference between what he’s calculated the bill should be and what the receipt says. It’s mind-boggling to listen to this sort of thing. This happens often enough that it makes customer and tech support simply jaded.
5. Laziness. That’s right. We’re lazy. Most of us don’t want to expend the extra effort it takes to let someone know that their service is poor. We either take our business elsewhere without directly complaining or we come back next time because it’s cheap and convenient. The flip side is that some of us don’t even take the time to educate ourselves a bit and find the ‘any key’ before dialing tech support. I’m sure this makes any tech’s blood boil.
I know there are many exceptions to these reasons. Great service can be found if you’re looking for it and some people do care enough to complain when service is especially poor. The problem seems to lie mostly with the number of people on both sides of the support line who don’t really listen and don’t really care. Some added effort from both the tech support folks and the consumers would go a long way toward improving the quality of service.