Nine Things Phone Support Staff Hear
Remember those one or two stories that you have about calling tech support or customer service? Remember how glad you were when it was over? Do you happen to remember some of the things that you said? If you are embarrassed or ashamed or consider the experience epic in any way years later, then just imagine taking thousands of those same calls over the course of a decade plus. Here are nine things that telephone support operators hear every single day, lest you think you were the only caller clever enough to ask for a Supervisor.
Yes, if you do tech support or customer service, you will be accused of straight up attempted homicide on a regular basis. It does not matter what phone line you answer. If you are troubleshooting phone service, their elderly mother will need a land line to call 911. Without the landline and an emergency technician sent out today, her 87 years will be horrifically lost tonight... like it never has been before. Without the stimulation of television, the depression might just kill someone today.
There was even a case where a caller stated that without their printer, their daughter was going to die. The reasoning for this was that they could not print up vital prescriptions in order to get their child life saving medication. Credit Card customer service? If they do not have available credit right now, then gram gram will never live past today. Trust us, you will be accused of homicidal tendencies more than you will ever believe. The best quote ever by a person calling in using the "Murderer" line was "I didn't want to have to play the cancer card..."
"Unacceptable" is the buzzword people calling to a tech support or customer service line tries to use to mean "special treatment." Generally, the client wants something about and beyond a standard credit or they would like service quicker than you are able to offer it. The underlying message when ever you hear "unacceptable" is supposed to be "I am more special than every one of your other customers (this includes you if you called in), but I am completely unwilling to pay for a higher plan (that almost every support service offers) to qualify for special treatment." One of the underlying undertones of "unacceptable" is "I don't care if you screw over every other customer that you have, I am special and deserve to be put on the front of the line."
"Unacceptable" was actually used by a customer to try to get a late night tech to come out when his television would not play the golf channel in his pool room of his second home. Every other TV in the house worked, however he felt that there was an immediate need for the company to pay over time for the Golf Channel in the pool room to work. After an epic meltdown, the customer promised that jobs would be lost over the offense.
Make no mistake on this one. The minute that you hear the word ''inconvenience" on a tech support or customer service line, you can be sure of two things. First, you are now discussing money or credit to an account. Second, this is the longest word with the most syllables that the person on the other end of the line ever bothered to learn. The only reason why they bothered to learn "inconvenience" in the first place is because someone else told them that they could get money saying it. "Inconvenience" and "unacceptable" will often go hand in hand. Beyond that, the level to which the multi-syllabic or even polite vocabulary goes down hill is absolutely astounding.
There is absolutely nothing more magical to someone calling in on a tech support or customer service line than talking to a Supervisor. The popular impression is that the Supervisor was promoted because they won a virtual death match of the best of the best to attain their hallowed position. Once the title of Supervisor in a Call Center is bestowed, you are automatically imbued with special powers above and beyond any one else the company. It is simply this beaten down Plebian army that you have to hack your way through in order to get to someone with juice. After all, that is exactly what Oprah told you. Oprah can't be wrong!
The truth of the matter is that Supervisors were generally very good at answering the phones as a front line technician... five years ago. Even more common, they are people that are good at judging calls as well as motivating their teams. More often than not, they were brought in as supervisors to the company having never done the job of the people they are supervising. The advantage of the supervisor on the phone is saying "My name is ( such and such), I am a supervisor." Often, real call centers supervisors will farm this job of saying it off to one of their better technicians. They are also experts at defusing volatile customers. Their greatest ambition? They want to hand you back to the agent you were talking to so that something can actually get done.
- “My online business / classes”
Whether it is an internet service provider or a computer company, getting online for an average customer is considered to be entertainment. There is always a higher, business level of service available. That would be different. You can buy a level of support for emergencies that will cover nearly anything in any circumstance. Microsoft has a level of support where they will actually fly their best techs to your place of business. They offer an even higher level of support where you will have a Microsoft tech at your place of business on permanent call. Most every computer company has a level of support that will get you replacement parts the same day. This would be up to an including someone handing you a new computer in under three hours. This is all provided that you pay for that level of support.
Now, having said all of that, there is not a tech support person alive who has done their job more than two weeks who has not heard about the ridiculous success you can have running an online business. These "businesses" are never really specified. The point is that every second that their computer is down, the money clock is ticking. The most common quoted statistic is 500 dollars an hour. The only possibilities that tech support can generally come up with for these profits is that you are performing unspeakable acts with a horse on a private line, day trading while taking some level of crack, or that you are the most successful eBay salesman of recently done wood carvings of all time.
The alternate to this is that there is some assignment to be done online. Online classes have boomed in recent years, however it is amazing that every single online assignment (no matter what time of the year) would be the one that can fail you the entire semester. Also, there is no possibility that any of a hundred different ways to get on the internet in an emergency would be satisfactory. The clock is ticking and any down time is, of course, "unacceptable."
- “What am I Supposed to do with the Kids?”
Whenever this question is posed, you will literally have to bite your lip to stop from saying "I don't know... parent?" To many people, children have become like the Eloi from the novel The Time Machine. The important thing is that they have the internet, television, Xbox, or whatever device is necessary to keep them distracted and away from interaction with authority figures.
You would think that this line of logic is restricted to parents. That might actually be comforting. Elementary school teachers will call tech support lines completely lost if they cannot get their class on the internet. Literally, they will have no idea what is supposed to be done with a class full of children if they cannot be plugged into their online lessons for the day. Babysitters without a cable service? The apocalypse is literally imminent if Yo Gabba Gabba is not there to soothe the masses.
The days of grandpa cornering you with out a television to tell you stories for hours? Gone. Grandpa is the first one on the line to have his own television explained to him to avoid having to deal with his daughter's child. Having never done bifocal tech support, it is not readily known if there has ever been a desperate call that the ability to read a book to a child on your lap has completely broken down in the modern age.
- Just Plain Crazy / Conspiracy Theories
Just once, you want someone to mistake a cd-rom tray for a cup holder. That actually never happens. People will call up with complaints that you would never believe possible. They will go into glorious detail about how the light on their cable box is shooting a laser causing their toenails to bleed. There are people who will sit in corners and scream on the phone. There was a caller who broke into a cursing fit every single time that the Weather Channel did not give them constant updates. People will call in complaining that the cable will not work causing them undue anxiety during their home incarceration. If there favorite channel will not play, then it is obviously a conspiracy. This is especially true when dealing with the Fox News Channel.
If they cannot download an illegal bit torrent in under two minutes to see a movie that has not even come out in the theaters yet? The company is 'throttling' their connection. People will also call up completely drunk. They will take breaks during the call to flush, beat their children, pay prostitutes, as well as shoot up drugs. They will then tell you exactly what they are doing. There are days when you almost long for a simple cursing. Personally, there have been calls accusing cable companies of bombing raids. There were people who spent several hours on the phone complaining that a box attached to their television was a plot by the government to install a webcam in their home for watching them. If you go online enough, you will also find groups of people who agree with them.
- “Computer I-Liter-ate”
People will actually tell you that they are "computer illiterate" as if they had been diagnosed with some sort of disease. They will also state it at the beginning of a tech support call. This is to let you know that you are supposed to invoke whatever "computer illiteracy" training you may have received to help them through their lifetime of a Luddite upbringing. Apparently, the world has gotten really confusing to them. People now can not even rely simply on their diagnosis to work simply with computers. Computer Illiteracy now means that you are frozen like the Green Lantern encountering the color yellow when you see a cable box, HD television, or iPhone.
The most disturbing part of computer illiteracy is the unbelievable level of pride that people will take when telling you about this. There is literally no shame attached to computer illiteracy at all. As a matter of fact, people with computer illiteracy are bursting with a sense of accomplishment that they managed to survive untold decades on this Earth without ever having once encountered an issue like this before. For some odd reason, they will also equate being a good person with paying bills on time.
- “I Work for a Living”
This would qualify as one of the more deflating statement that people will regularly make on the phone. When given options for a tech coming out, people will tell you something down the lines of "I / We work for a living!" This would imply that the tech support person that they are talking to on the phone is some sort of dedicated hobbyist who just likes taking calls from angry people whose equipment does not work.
The truth of the matter is that call center hours are often shift work and do not often correspond to what has been seen as a standard work week. Call Center employees often have to wait years to get a 9-5 job with weekends off. They will also have to balance their own lives away from family or kids to take tech support calls at odd hours. The reward for this sacrifice? Someone on the phone will remind them that their job does not involve taking calls, interacting with the public, and also happens to have the added benefit of a schedule that seems sane as well as gives you a Friday to look forward too. This will often be done on a Sunday when the person on the other end of the line might also like to be at home watching a football game with their family.