We have all been there. Two AM in the morning, stuck on a telephone trying to reach tech support and have an issue resolved to no avail. Sometimes we get a kind and knowledgeable agent, proud of the work he or she does and intent on providing the best possible service. Realistically speaking, however, these are few and far between.
Normally, what we get is a drone worker reading through a script and making up excuses when he can’t find your issue in his arsenal of pre-approved answers and procedures.
For example, “it’s a problem with your computer” is a favorite and timeless excuse for internet service representatives, while “the problem is with your internet provider” is the counter from PC tech support staff. These are silly and sometimes downright insulting excuses; especially for a tech savvy customer who already knows where his problem is and just needs assistance resolving it.
Somehow, a problem with your computer not detecting external USB Hard Drive turns into a goofy explanation of drivers and why it’s a problem with the manufacturer, when you already made clear the problem is the USB port itself.
The reason behind these problems is not always a poorly trained agent or someone who doesn’t care about their work. There are also behind-the-scenes machinations that are designed to maximize productivity, regardless of the effect it has on quality. In fact, the corporate taskmasters behind every call center are often so concerned with volume that the needs of their customers are only an afterthought.
Metrics are the main cause of concern for customer care centers. There are usually dozens of them that agents have to meet before finding themselves at the unemployment office, and the single most important metric customer care agents have to meet is Average Handle Time, also known as Average Call Time.
This metric is the most important for the corporate bosses. Why? Because it’s a direct representation of an agent’s productivity, or how many calls are they able to take during their work shift. The lower their call times, the better their numbers look and the more likely an agent is to get a bonus in their paycheck. This means that agents usually have a vested interest in getting you off the phone as quickly as possible, either by resolving the problem promptly or giving you a ridiculous excuse about why they can’t.
Only a good, knowledgeable agent will resolve your problem promptly; so if you are starting to hear a silly pretext indicating an agent can’t or won’t help you, do yourself a favor and ask for a supervisor. And here comes another bit of call center trivia: supervisor calls are usually not taken by supervisors.
Call center supervisors usually are either too busy or not knowledgeable enough to help resolve a call, so when a customer asks for one what they frequently get is a ‘Floor Walker’. These Floor Walkers are usually experienced and knowledgeable agents tasked with going around the call center helping anyone who has a question, taking on minor supervisory duties and, you guessed it, taking over supervisor calls.
So next time you call your support line of choice, get a feel for the person at the other end. If you are not satisfied, just ask for a ‘supervisor’ or try calling back. It could end up saving you a lot of time and headaches.