Companies are generally cold, uncaring legally defined beasts empowered with the rights of an individual yet without the soul and conscious of one, especially when it comes to making large decisions which affect others. The people behind the company however, the individuals, they’re usually caring, sympathetic and helpful people who go out of their way to help you when possible.
So why are people annoyed, angry and overall tired of dealing with support? It’s when the company pseudo-braintrust is working without considering and consulting their own users?
Unannounced changes to server configuration
When someone in the IT group decides its a good idea to radically change a server configuration with little or commonly, no prior notice, to end users it will end give your company a blackeye.
Think of it it like this, you’re a developer for a client whom pays you quite a fair amount of change to manage their site and for the past two years it has been working and successful. Then, one day, you find the site down, nothing is loading, all you’re getting is white pages and you, the developer spend the next four hours attempting to troubleshoot scouring error logs, uploading known-good files, even thinking you’ve been hacked. You finally call it and seek help from your host via technical support.
You get to about reply 10 before you find out they’ve recently made a change, your version of PHP was upgraded to PHP6 which removes functions you relied on throughout your coding and now, you’ve a week of reprogramming ahead of you…joy.
Too many hands in the pot…
Ever hear the joke about how many X it takes to screw in a light bulb? Pretty much the same thing with some companies support desks. Every agent wants to be helpful and no agent is dedicated to any one ticket, your issue isn’t resolved until after at least four people treat you like a puppet and get you to do all kinds of troubleshooting and changes.
Seriously, is having one person handling one ticket through its time to resolution impossible to ask? I don’t mind having my tickets escalated or passed off to a different individual provided I’m given a reason for it or it is necessary. It’s insane sometimes and many companies like to hide this fact, when you’re asked to do the same thing you did two replies ago or for information you’ve already provided, chances are you’re dealing with multiple agents and what is worse is when you get canned replies from outsourced agents with limited grasp of the language.
Suspension without ANY notice!
This has happened to me before and it took too damned long to figure out I was suspended without any notice. If you get an abuse report about something relating to my account, give me at least the courtesy of a notice before you suspend with a 24 hour correct-or-suspend demand.
If I’m grossly misbehaving, fine, give me an hour’s notice via email of your intent to suspend and why/how this action was deemed necessary and if you need to do immediate suspension, do it and give me a detailed reason and how to get back online notice.
Any way you cut it, I better have a damned notice in my email before I get to that support queue.
No I do not think you can take a little blue pill for this one but you can live up to expectations and if you’re showing off impressive numbers, I expect you to at least keep within .5% of those numbers over a 90-day period of usage of your services.
If your server goes down, you’ll hear from a few vociferous users (like me) but there is the largely silent affected group and there are also our affected end-users of our sites/services whom we get to hear from when your server goes down. I need to know three things when I contact you, why did it go down, when did it start and when will services be restored? If your downtime is expected to be 24 hours or more I want to know one more thing, how do you intend to cover my loss of service?
You may have 300 people on that server of which 5% complain within the first 45 minutes of downtime but it is those users whom most likely have invested a great deal into their sites/services and are being hounded by their end-users themselves.
Unlisted Limits and Forced Upgrades
Look, I know some limits aren’t exactly published because 99% of the viewers of your limits won’t understand but don’t let that stop you from providing that information in a statistics module or similar or even an email before I get too far out of hand with resources. Like inodes for instance, don’t let me find out through going through a dance with tech support over my inability to send mail and find out it’s because I’ve jacked my inode limits without knowing it.
Another thing, forced upgrades. If you know for a fact based on statistics I’m not doing well, my site is sucking down bandwidth and space like it is going out of style, let me know via email and give me 24 hours notice that you intend to suspend my account and how I can correct/upgrade or otherwise resolve the issue. If my account is really bad and your CPU and memory are like dots to Pac-Man in relation to my account usage, suspend and send me notice after the fact with reasons and solutions.
Remember, I need it before I get to your support queue so I don’t come in hot and heavy about your service being down.
If you’re a provider (and I hope you are) take from this the following, users (such as myself) want to be kept informed about anything that can or does affect their accounts before or after the fact and in turn, you’ll find them more receptive to bad news, required upgrades, changes and limits. Tell your agents that they are assigned X tickets and those tickets are their responsibility until either resolved, escalated or otherwise handled correctly with graceful pass-offs if needed.
Above all else, if your systems or services go down and it affects me for more than 24 hours, I expect not only to be informed of the issue with a timeframe but also some means of recompense for the time lost/affected.
Improve on these five shortfalls and I all but guarantee our reputations as providers will be improved greatly, we may be even thought of as more than legally defined beasts by our customers.