You may think yourself to be cool, the type of person who just doesn’t get effected even if the people around you lose their cool. But all this seems to be wrong when you contact tech support. Then you get angry. Your face color turns red. You start shouting on the phone and it may outrage your mother.
And you are the only one. Getting trapped in a loop of tech support — being on hold, getting to interact with automated systems, speaking with people repeating the same unhelpful scripts and then getting yourself on hold again — is a strange kind of annoyance that health experts say is able to make angry even to the most well-behaved person.
Worse, just what you think, companies are very much aware of the kind of torture they are causing you.
According to the survey that was done last year by the ICMI, or the International Customer Management Institute, 92% out of the customer service managers accepted that their agents could be better and effective on the call and 74% even said that their company procedures didn’t let the agents provide satisfactory experiences.
Moreover, 73% of them said that the multiplicity of tech support services is increasing as customers are more technologically sophisticated nowadays and can solve small issues by themselves.
Many organizations are working on cost-per-contact model. It limits the time for what the agents can talk over the phone with a customer, hence the calls are transfered and placed on hold again and again, said Justin Robbins, who has worked as a tech support executive himself and is now overseeing editorial and research at ICMI.
“Don’t even think that companies haven’t researched what they can do to provide the minmum level of customer service,” Mr. Robbins said. “Few organizations have even monetized their services by intentionally making it so that one has to wait for minimum an hour to speak to a customer support executive, and while being on hold, there will be voice messages like, ‘If you want premium support, contact this number that is chargable and then we will, immediately, get to you.’”
The most horrible offenders are the mobile service providers and cable companies. They usually have very little competition and their customers are trapped by contracts or they would be very inconvenienced if they discontinued with their service. Not unpredictably, mobile and cable service providers are always ranked by consumers for providing the worst ever customer service.
AT&T, Verizon and Comcast Communications did not give any response when requested for comment.
It is even more frustrating to talk to tech support and not being understood because you either try to communicate with automated machines or representatives who have got training to speak like automated machines, either because of quality control norms or may be they can’t speak English so well that they can go off-script.
“It’s very irritating because a conversations should be like if I am saying something to you, in my mind, I’m somehow influencing the conversation,” said Art Markman, who is psychology professor at the University of Texas, located at Austin and also co-host of a podcast “Two Guys on Your Head.” “And then if you respond with something that doesn’t makes any sense, I get to know that all the things I said didn’t make any effect at all on what’s going on here.”
When things make no sense and seem to be out of control, say the mental health experts, humans naturally feel threatened. Though you tend to think that you can put reason in such a situation, you’re actually nothing more than a mass of primal reactions and neural impulses. You may thing of giving a fight or flight response, but you can’t do it because you are on the phone that provokes rage.
Of course, companies that are rated best for their tech support usually charge more for the products or may be they charge a fee for a better customer service so that the cost of providig instant help is baked in, for example, Apple’s customer service, AppleCare, and the Prime subscription service by Amazon.
You can also get excellent tech support service in competitive markets such as domain name provider companies, where the operators like GoDaddyreceive and Hover high marks. Also the hungry upstarts, that are trying to enter the markets dominated by big national companies, offer great services. Take regional phone and internet service providers like WOW and Logix, who appear in the top list of any customer support survey.
But the mental health experts and tech support veterans said that there were many other ways using which you could get better customer service or maybe you would be able to just make it a bit more bearable. First, try to control your temper. You should take a deep breath. Sometimes counting to 10 may work. Losing your temper at a consumer support executive is never going to get the problem resolved in lesser time. May be, just the opposite.
“I remember noticing my behaviors at the times that I didn’t have any idea about, like getting irritated at the people and behaving in passive or aggressive ways,” said John Valenti, who is a video producer located in Rochester, and have earlier worked as a tech support executive at an internet service provider company from the year 2007 to 2012 while doing his graduation. He made an outlandish film about the same for his thesis durimg the masters at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Mr. Valenti, like many other tech support agents who have posted their confessions online on social media or other websites, said rudeness usually gets customers put on hold for a long time or “accidentally” calls disconnected. There are also the chances of the agent resolving the immediate problem while ignoring the root cause. In such cases, you have to call back again if the same problem occurs.
Don’t insist to speak with a supervisor, either. They are just going to transfer your call to another executive who has already been alerted about the same, Mr. Robbins said. Also, you should keep in mind that the words you are using over the call are being recorded and they might be seen on the posters in that call center.
“I’ve seen many companies making T-shirts with the brutal, unpleasant words people use,” Mr. Robbins said. He further said that the T-shirts might provide an impulsion to improve as the customers have been taken to such extreme situations, “but it also may indicate that some people are really from crazy town.”
Customer support experts suggested using social media, such as tweeting or texting on Facebook, instead of calling, to contact the company. You are more likely to get response quickly, not only because very few people try this method but also because if you use social media, it shows that you can release your frustration to a large audience if didn’t get proper resolution on time, as well as to give good feedback publicly if treated the way you should be, they said.
To get quicker service on phone, you can choose the numbers designated for “sales” or “place an order,” that almost always connects you with an onshore agent, while the one for tech support is usually offshore and there may be language difficulties.
You can also go to the websites like GetHuman.com or customercaretoll.com for helpline numbers and directions on which digits to press in order to bypass the irritating automated system and talk to a live person.
If that doesn’t work, try apps like Fast Customer and Lucy Phone that will wait for you on hold and call you as soon as a human picks up. You don’t have to feed your rage hearing that annoying hold music.