Real-Life Horror Stories From IT Support

Real-Life Horror Stories From IT Support

Have you ever had a negative experience when trying to get support for a technical issue? With tech companies around the world doing everything possible to stay lean and mean, outsourcing tech support to third-party providers has become a standard business practice. You've probably spoken to outsourced tech support agents more than once.

Sometimes, companies and their outsourced support providers develop such close relationships that it becomes difficult to tell where the company ends and the outsourced call center begins. One should strive for this kind of situation.

In other cases, though, call centers fail to consistently deliver quality support due to reasons such as poor training and overly rigid company policies.

Are you looking for a tech support provider that can help your employees with their day-to-day tech issues? Choose your support provider carefully. We've been helping companies in this particular area for nearly 20 years, and over that time we've heard just about every cringe-worthy situation out there.

These are some of the potential tech support horror stories that could sap your employees' morale and your company's revenue. We offer these up not to scare anyone, but rather to reinforce the idea that it's worthwhile to research an IT service provider before signing a support contract.

If any of these situations resonate with you, make sure you browse through our service offerings - we've got the experience and reputation to prove that Continuous is an exceptional choice when it comes to IT support for your business.

"I can't help you because you can't stick to my script."

In tech support, a script isn't always a bad thing. A script can help to ensure, for example, that front-line techs always follow the troubleshooting steps most likely to resolve common issues before moving on to more esoteric steps or escalating calls to other departments.

If it's impossible for a caller to follow the troubleshooting steps in a script, though, the tech support rep needs to have the flexibility and power to try something else.

Here is one incident in which sticking to a rigid script probably cost a company many future large orders. A customer made a bulk purchase of several notebook computers. Of those, 12 were dead on arrival and didn't turn on. The buyer of the notebooks contacted the computer vendor. The tech support representative told the buyer that his troubleshooting steps required the computers to be on.

As a result, he couldn't do anything to help. He further said the fact that the computers didn't turn on was most likely the buyer's fault.

Outsourcing your company's internal tech support to a third-party help desk is a great way to reduce your IT expenses, but you need to choose a support provider who understands that not every technical issue fits a script. The support provider also needs to know the underlying hardware and applications well enough to diagnose and resolve unfamiliar issues.

"I have to transfer you now because we're no longer earning money on this call."

Before outsourcing your internal tech support to a third-party, you should examine the financial terms of the contract very carefully.

  • Will you pay the help desk per call received?

  • Will the help desk company expect its support representatives to handle calls within certain time limits?

The internal metrics that call centers use often have very little to do with resolving issues or making customers happy. Call center metrics typically revolve around handling the maximum number of calls as quickly as possible.

In 2008, a representative working for an outsourced Verizon call center confessed that his call center expected him to stay on the phone with customers for an average length of 15 minutes per call.

That's a typical metric for call centers that charge their clients for each minute that their representatives spend on the phones. Complex technical issues often take more than 15 minutes to resolve, but a call center employee isn't going to risk his livelihood for a caller that he has never met. Rather than ruin his average handle time for the day, a call center agent may fabricate a phone issue and either disconnect a call or transfer it back into the queue.

"Sorry, I'm having trouble understanding you call back in a few minutes"

If you really want your outsourced IT help desk to put your satisfaction first and do whatever is necessary to resolve issues, you'll need to find a tech support provider with a pricing model that reflects your priorities. Remember that top-quality support and bottom-barrel pricing rarely go hand in hand. Great tech support isn't cheap, but it'll help your company maintain a happier and more productive workforce.

"I can't help you because I have no idea how to fix your problem."

It's not unusual for a help desk to offer multiple tiers of support. Higher-tier agents tend to have greater flexibility to work outside of normal company policies when it's necessary to achieve issue resolution.

Before you begin a contract with an outsourced help desk provider, though, you should have a thorough understanding of what the provider's first tier of support can and can't do.

If the first-tier representatives understand the applications that your company uses and can resolve common issues with those applications, you'll probably enjoy a high-resolution rate with that help desk provider. The added benefit of this situation is that your employees also won't spend a lot of time on hold when they call for support.

In some cases, though, the first-tier agents at an outsourced help desk provider may only know how to troubleshoot common computer issues such as sluggish performance and failure to print. If your employees need to call for help with non-Microsoft applications, the first-tier help desk agents will essentially become receptionists whose only job is to transfer your employees' calls to the next tier of support.

If a help desk provider's first-tier agents can't resolve your employees' issues, and they have no means to escalate your problem - you're essentially just talking about a technical issue that you'll never be able to get support with.

Assuredly, you can expect the average length of each support call to more than double.

Final Thoughts: Choose Your Outsourced IT Support Provider Carefully

When you evaluate potential providers for your company's outsourced help desk needs, you should pay special attention to the flexibility and power that the provider gives to its agents as it pertains to your business goals.

You should also consider what the provider needs to do to make your account a profitable one. If getting your employees off of the phone as quickly as possible is one of the provider's metrics for profitability, you should probably look elsewhere.

Although those first two points are important, we believe that the most crucial factor in your evaluation of a help desk provider should be the provider's ability to resolve issues without escalating or transferring calls.

When one of your employees needs to call for technical support, the first person that he or she speaks to should have the power and training to resolve the issue most of the time. First-contact resolution keeps support calls short and helps your employees to remain productive.

It also minimizes the frustration of needing to call for support in the first place -- and reducing frustration is a great way to keep your employees happy. Bottom line - make sure your managed service provider is as invested in the success of your company as you are!