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View Full Version : Customer service needs to be more tech-knowledgeable



sandyd
January 20th, 2010, 10:37 PM
Yesterday, I called in to Gateway because the main usb controler went bad. Ive only had this machine for a few months, so it was still under warranty.

Now heres the thing. The rep asked me what OS I was using. I told him that I was using a dual boot system of windows 7 and ubuntu. He had absolutely no idea what I was talking about or what linux or ubuntu was and said he couldn't diagnose my computer because of that. I know whats wrong on my computer, and i just told him. He refused to believe me and instead insisted that my usb drive, my usb cd drive, and my usb mouse were fried. could have been fried. I gave up on trying to explain to him, and instead rang up a friend who worked at gateway. He gave me the phone # to get me to a higher tier support.

Which also didn't know what linux was and he said he couldn't help me because he also didn't know what OS i was using. In fact, he said that using this "unknown os" could have possibly damaged the hardware and because of this, my warranty was void.

I was really fustrated at this time, so I called the manager. Manager told me they don't give out support to people whove installed other operating systems other than windows on their computers.

Since i was on a deadline and needed to transfer a client's data onto a USB drive, I gave up talking to the service reps and instead just bought a new USB card at the local tech store.

4 hours later, i did managed to get hold of one of the call center managers. who actually simply asked what was wrong with my computer, and not what I was running on my computer. I explained to him that my USB controller was fried. He instantly gave me a RMA number and all the information I would need without any hassle.

That wasted my entire day.:(

Lesson learned
#1 don't tell service reps your dual booting
#2 get a higher tier tech support at the start instead of walking up the tiers.
#3 don't expect much from un-knowledgable reps.

Skripka
January 20th, 2010, 10:39 PM
FYI:

"Customer Service/Support" is nothing more than a Time Vampire.

earthpigg
January 20th, 2010, 11:06 PM
Lesson learned
#1 don't tell service reps your dual booting
#2 get a higher tier tech support at the start instead of walking up the tiers.
#3 don't expect much from un-knowledgable reps.

i always lie to customer service reps about what OS i am using. well, i give them a chance:

"sir, what operating system are you using?"

"hey, do you by chance know what Linux is?"

"no..."

"ok. im using Windows Vista."

i then try to transliterate their directions into the Linux equivalent. googling "linux version of [msdos command here]" is pretty helpful.

example: they tell me to run ipconfig or whatever and ask me my ip... i type 'myip' into a terminal and read it to him.


[chris: ~]$ grep myip .bashrc
alias myip='echo My IP is && curl http://www.whatismyip.com/automation/n09230945.asp && echo'
[chris: ~]$

i nod along as they give 'point here, click there' directions and then get to it quickly on my own when he finally gets to the point of "what is the MAC?"

and if i coincidentally had windows installed somewhere (i don't.) i would just boot into that ahead of time and make no mention of linux at all.


for most of us here, the problem isn't the knowledge... its the authority to act on it. that's where company employees come in handy. you just need to work them and lie to them and do whatever else it takes for them to do what you want them to do. they are tools, no different than bricks or screwdrivers. useless and until a human comes along and puts them to work. i will re-evaluate that cynical outlook the day i come into contact with a telephone tech support person that is competent.

JackRock
January 20th, 2010, 11:32 PM
FYI: "Customer Service/Support" is nothing more than a Time Vampire.

I disagree on the basis that such an over-reaching and blanketed statement is false. Yes, it applies to some companies, but they are either immoral or just ignorant of their industry beyond their own walls.

Customer service in many companies does exactly what it's supposed to do. You just don't hear many people publicly declare when something goes right. 98% of people ONLY say anything at all if it's negative. That's the attitude of the world we live in.


Lesson learned
#1 don't tell service reps your dual booting
#2 get a higher tier tech support at the start instead of walking up the tiers.
#3 don't expect much from un-knowledgable reps.

Again, I disagree....but pretty much only with #2. By doing so, you fail to give a person a chance at doing the job. By not allowing a Tier 1 agent to resolve the problem, you force a Tier 2 agent (who costs more) to resolve a Tier 1's job, and therefore cost the company money. Who cares, you say? You should...such items drive costs up for the company, and these rising prices are transferred to the end buyers.

As for #1, I can see that. Many so-called techs don't know crap about Linux, even though it's mentioned in the A+ course extensively these days. You may not necessarily get a tech who knows the ins and outs, but you should at least get somebody who knows it's different and has to work with "equivalents".

As for #3, that's just ridiculous. That's a management issue on the part of the company, and it drives costs up because of situations like this - and the customer can't do a thing about it.

In case it isn't obvious, I work in a call center as a Tier 2 agent.

oldsoundguy
January 20th, 2010, 11:43 PM
Had a friend that worked for Dell in customer service. He KNOWS computers .. but at the first tier level, was instructed to "stick to the script" .. as that is what they go by .. they also have a list of "problems & solutions" that they have to adhere to. NO VARIANCE ALLOWED!
ONLY after they have completely gone through their song and dance, will they voluntarily escalate to the next level .. where they have a different script and list to go by!

Friend could not take it and quit .. he now makes jewelry he sells at flea markets and makes more bucks as he avoid Uncle Sam!

And now, with very few exceptions, you not only have somebody that has to adhere to a script, but does so with English as a third language.

nothingspecial
January 20th, 2010, 11:47 PM
I don`t think you understand the world of work very well.....

....with respect to your linux fu. :D

earthpigg
January 20th, 2010, 11:54 PM
Again, I disagree....but pretty much only with #2. By doing so, you fail to give a person a chance at doing the job. By not allowing a Tier 1 agent to resolve the problem, you force a Tier 2 agent (who costs more) to resolve a Tier 1's job, and therefore cost the company money. Who cares, you say? You should...such items drive costs up for the company, and these rising prices are transferred to the end buyers.


skipping to Tier 2 would save the company money. Carlee knows her stuff. If she is calling tech support, it is almost certainly beyond what the T1 script kiddies can handle.

T1 is for two things:

1) the majority human population that is rather without a clue when it comes to computers (much like me and most people with cars... i can change the oil, but don't ask me to change brake pads. simple and routine, but beyond my knowledge and experience.).

2) routine things wherein you know exactly what the problem is, but can't fix it yourself. ie: a problem with your internet service on their end.

thats it.

virusiidx
January 21st, 2010, 12:20 AM
Well, being that the majority of consumer computer users are on Windows, it's not very shocking that CS reps don't know what Linux is and I don't blame them. Welcome to being the minority.

Also, if CS reps are more "tech-knowledgeable", I don't think they would be in CS. :P

lovinglinux
January 21st, 2010, 01:48 AM
You should listen to my last discussion with a rep from my ISP, about problems with their DNS server.

Here we are obligated to contract a "provider" which basically only process the authentication into the network, which is in fact provided directly by a Telecom, for which I pay the broadband bill. Since the reps don't understand anything about the technical part of their business, whenever I have a problem the Telecom says I need to call the "provider", and the "provider" says I need to call the Telecom. Last time, after bouncing from one to another several times, I really freaked out on the phone.

The problem was occurring because I have switched to a new provider and the DNS addresses they gave me weren't working. I was able to authenticate with the new provider, but could only open their web site. If I changed the DNS addresses to use OpenDNS or the old provider dns server, then it worked.

You won't believe what the rep said. First, she asked me what version of Windows I use and had now idea what Linux is (I never say Ubuntu). Then she said if I use their IP address in the DNS settings, then the only site I would be able to open would be theirs, because I'm using their IP. After explaining what a DNS server is, I tried to get a new response, without success. Then, I said that she wasn't prepared to provide assistance to me because she had no idea how a DNS server works and that I needed to talk to a supervisor and she refused to transfer my call. To cut the story short, I switched back to my old provider, which is still giving me all kinds of headaches.

BTW, I'm strongly considering lying about my OS in the future, which is really sad.

JackRock
January 21st, 2010, 01:51 AM
skipping to Tier 2 would save the company money. Carlee knows her stuff. If she is calling tech support, it is almost certainly beyond what the T1 script kiddies can handle.

Be that is it may, neither they nor I even know who Carlee is. Sure, her problem may eventually get to Tier 2 anyway, but to DEMAND or FORCE it, per the #2 in the list above, only makes EVERY call go to Tier 2. And it costs money to make that transfer.


T1 is for two things:

1) the majority human population that is rather without a clue when it comes to computers (much like me and most people with cars... i can change the oil, but don't ask me to change brake pads. simple and routine, but beyond my knowledge and experience.).

2) routine things wherein you know exactly what the problem is, but can't fix it yourself. ie: a problem with your internet service on their end.

thats it.

Generally, I agree. But you, as a non-employee of that company, do not know the full expertise of the Tier 1 agent, and you might be surprised to find out how much they do know.

We've had callers call in and demand a higher level, because of advice like this....and if they had simply spoken to a Tier 1 agent the first time, they could have had their problem resolved in 10 minutes, instead of waiting for a Tier 2 agent to call back the next day (we are usually overloaded with calls).

steveneddy
January 21st, 2010, 02:07 AM
O won't go to CS for anything if i can help it.

I would rather have un-installed the card - I suppose it is a desktop - and replaced it myself and told the service to give your money back because it had to be repaired in the field.

I'm glad you got it fixed. Carlee.

JackRock
January 21st, 2010, 02:55 AM
O won't go to CS for anything if i can help it.

I would rather have un-installed the card - I suppose it is a desktop - and replaced it myself and told the service to give your money back because it had to be repaired in the field.

Normally, this is the route I take. The problem comes in that many manufacturers (the ones that back up the warranties) are NOT the ones who sold the product, so they don't have a transaction to refund. You'd have to go to the vendor, who normally says "you'll have to talk to the manufacturer for that".

It is for this reason I prefer to buy from the manufacturer if at all possible. That way, they have a record of a direct transaction (thus warranty start date), and they back up everything they sell. Items purchased through vendors may cost a little less, but you have an additional layer to deal with, who may or may not be willing to help you. Though, of course, many manufacturers don't sell directly.

Skripka
January 21st, 2010, 03:27 AM
I disagree on the basis that such an over-reaching and blanketed statement is false. Yes, it applies to some companies, but they are either immoral or just ignorant of their industry beyond their own walls.



It has applied to EVERY tech support line I have ever dealt with. "Only some companies" my you know what.

"Your call is important to us please remain on the line and the next available representative will be with you shortly". Sure it is important, enough that after hours on hold listening to BS statements I hang up. I have a life and a computer problem is not important enuff for me to have a phone glued to my ears for 5 hours. If my call is so important why don't you hire more call center workers to deal with my problem in a more timely manner.

FuturePilot
January 21st, 2010, 05:10 AM
i always lie to customer service reps about what OS i am using. well, i give them a chance:

"sir, what operating system are you using?"

"hey, do you by chance know what Linux is?"

"no..."

"ok. im using Windows Vista."

i then try to transliterate their directions into the Linux equivalent. googling "linux version of [msdos command here]" is pretty helpful.

example: they tell me to run ipconfig or whatever and ask me my ip... i type 'myip' into a terminal and read it to him.


[chris: ~]$ grep myip .bashrc
alias myip='echo My IP is && curl http://www.whatismyip.com/automation/n09230945.asp && echo'
[chris: ~]$

i nod along as they give 'point here, click there' directions and then get to it quickly on my own when he finally gets to the point of "what is the MAC?"

and if i coincidentally had windows installed somewhere (i don't.) i would just boot into that ahead of time and make no mention of linux at all.


for most of us here, the problem isn't the knowledge... its the authority to act on it. that's where company employees come in handy. you just need to work them and lie to them and do whatever else it takes for them to do what you want them to do. they are tools, no different than bricks or screwdrivers. useless and until a human comes along and puts them to work. i will re-evaluate that cynical outlook the day i come into contact with a telephone tech support person that is competent.

This.
Never ever tell them about using Linux. As you can see what usually happens by the OP. Just tell them you're using Windows and go along with it. Translate any instructions for Windows to instructions for Linux. Things will go a lot smoother that way.

sandyd
January 21st, 2010, 05:29 AM
O won't go to CS for anything if i can help it.

I would rather have un-installed the card - I suppose it is a desktop - and replaced it myself and told the service to give your money back because it had to be repaired in the field.

I'm glad you got it fixed. Carlee.
I unfortunately can't replace it myself - its the integrated chipset type, not a pci card. I could replace it if i wanted, but that would void my warranty.

Skripka
January 21st, 2010, 05:33 AM
I unfortunately can't replace it myself - its the integrated chipset type, not a pci card. I could replace it if i wanted, but that would void my warranty.

Learn how to use a soldering iron :)

d3v1150m471c
January 21st, 2010, 05:36 AM
tier one level help consists of :

sir, do a hard reset
Please hold while i transfer your call (to tier two).

Skripka
January 21st, 2010, 05:47 AM
tier one level help consists of :

sir, do a hard reset
Please hold while i transfer your call (to tier two).

No, Tier one consists of, "Sir is your computer presently turned on? You can verify this status by the condition of the LED on the front of the case. Could you please tell me what color it is?"

Leave the fancy hard-reset business to the real techies in Tier 2.

t0p
January 21st, 2010, 05:54 AM
I disagree on the basis that such an over-reaching and blanketed statement is false. Yes, it applies to some companies, but they are either immoral or just ignorant of their industry beyond their own walls.

Customer service in many companies does exactly what it's supposed to do. You just don't hear many people publicly declare when something goes right. 98% of people ONLY say anything at all if it's negative. That's the attitude of the world we live in.

[...]

Again, I disagree....but pretty much only with #2. By doing so, you fail to give a person a chance at doing the job. By not allowing a Tier 1 agent to resolve the problem, you force a Tier 2 agent (who costs more) to resolve a Tier 1's job, and therefore cost the company money. Who cares, you say? You should...such items drive costs up for the company, and these rising prices are transferred to the end buyers.

[...]

In case it isn't obvious, I work in a call center as a Tier 2 agent.

The company you work for is the exception, not the rule. Most customer service "tech" assistants follow a script which says nothing about Linux. Escalating the call to a more knowledgeable assistant is usually a waste of time as that more knowledgeable worker will either also know nothing about Linux or will not be allowed to help a Linux user as the company doesn't officially support Linux.

Harping on about how it's different where you work is irrelevant: your workplace is not typical.

kimdino
January 21st, 2010, 06:27 AM
I heartily disagree with most of the above answers. Here is why.

I will always make it clear, wherever possible, that I am using Linux. When buying a computer then I make it clear that I'm only buying a computer, not an OS. Noone has ever argued as, I assume, they want to sell it. Most appear to know of Linux, even if they have never come across it.

By making it clear when buying then they cannot claim breach of warranty. It is easy enough to show that Linux is no more likely to have damaged the hardware than MS-Windows will have. The hardest part is getting them to look at the evidence.

I take the line that their ignorance is their problem and should not be mine. However, now comes the bit where diplomacy is needed in order to avoid giving personal offence. You need to make them feel that it is their script that is inadequate. They will then soon pass you up to the next level.

Eventually they will realise that as the problem cannot be solved in microsoft dialogue-boxes the easiest way to get you off their backs is to look at the hardware. The beautiful irony is that if you are dealing with a Linux-ignorant team that is their only available option. Either way you have got to where is needed.

This effort is worth it because for every person that claims the problems is on a MS-Windows box the company has one more case to only support Microsoft plus one less case to add Linux support.

Sounds tough but if you can give the impression that you are not going to take any crap then it goes much easier. Also being able to show a level of technical suss helps a good deal.

I believe that it's only in this way that customer service will ever become more tech-knowledgable. Get counted as a Linux user & remember, they took your money so they owe you the service.

speedwell68
January 21st, 2010, 10:56 AM
I am expecting a battle like this later today. My Archos player has gone kaput, I bought it from a store that employ staff that aren't bright enough to work at McDonalds. I know what they are going to say if I tell them I am using Linux. I could lie and say I am using XP, but I don't see why I should. I have taken the liberty of printing out the blurb from the Archos website that states that Linux is supported with this model of player.

If we want better customer service and technical support from these type of vendors then we should all be prepared to spend a whole lot more for our hardware.

betrunkenaffe
January 21st, 2010, 06:23 PM
I work for an ISP in Canada, the Tier 1 agents all vary in abilities, some are capable of walking you through Linux commands, some are not. If a TSR can't help you (because Linux isn't officially supported), it's typically handed off to Tier 2 (not the call, your info) who give it to a Tier 1 who knows more about the OS and calls the customer back. Same thing with languages, if you have issues with english and know spanish/french/japanese/korean, they'll pass it to another agent (somewhere in the company) who can help you.

For us, Tier 2 aren't necessarily the tech gods, it's not their role. Obviously they need to know the basics and more than an avg Tier 1 who starts (all were Tier 1s with alot of experience).

Don't assume the tier 1 boys/girls know less than the tier 2 because it's not always true.

Does this mean you'll always get satisfaction with Linux? No. Because as I stated, not officially supported but they'll give a best effort which is really all you can ask (short of official support). Macs are the same even though they are officially supported, there's just more documentation around the place...

Maybe I'll write up a quick "troubleshooting Linux no surf issues" with a buddy of mine who's in tier 1...

Mr. Picklesworth
January 21st, 2010, 06:29 PM
I've tried to maintain a more positive outlook after watching this video a few years ago:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZBTdOp9LwM

Those poor, poor tech support guys.

Pretty stupid policy, though. Hardware manufacturers really don't seem to get software.
Reminds me of a friend of mine whose Toshiba laptop was bricked by their own BIOS upgrade tool and they refused to cover any repairs. Granted, the computer was a few months out of warranty, but it's their software! (Okay, it may have been a pre-existing hardware issue, since the hardware reset switch did nothing).
The actual problem came as no surprise to me; Toshiba's software is all garbage. My favourite is their pre-installed over-engineered network management tool that they just won't give up on. Connecting to a network involves chasing a low contrast dot around a blue circle that tries to look like Sonar, and the thing is known to mess up Windows's built in tools that were designed by people with a clue. Oh, and instead of using the messaging centre that Win 7 ships, they built their own disfigured clone of it called the "Toshiba Bulletin Board" and hid Windows's one by default.

Umm... where was I? Oh, yes: PC hardware manufacturers should accept that they absolutely fail at software and make more bare-bones products. Leave the software part to the retail outlets.

kimdino
January 25th, 2010, 01:40 AM
Hope all goes well, Speedwell. With the printed blurb you should be covered.