Tech Support, It’s Like Talking to a Wall ™

I wonder if there’s a way to contact tech support without coming off as a delusional psycho maniac? There’s so much to complicate the situation. First, by the time you’ve contacted tech support you’ve probably given the product a big benefit of the doubt, tinkered around with it, looked up some help on google or support forums. Still nothing. At this point you’ve got some pent up frustration even if you’re trying your hardest to be civil. Maybe you lost data. Maybe you lost valuable time. You probably lost both. So you contact tech support.

The ideal solution is when you didn’t know what you’re doing, support points you in the right direction but notes your difficulty, files a report to the development team, you express shock at your ignorance, and now everyone lives happily ever after. However, life is rarely like that.

The first obstacle is asymmetric knowledge. For tech products a lot of the customers end up being more knowledgeable about the product including all the quirks than the average tech support. Or at least spend more time mucking around with it. In an ideal world maybe the engineers answer the phone and are even friendly but that’s a crack fantasy if I’ve ever heard one. Instead we get people (under)paid to exclusively field customer queries about a product they did not create or even really care about.

The other side of it is that support really can’t understand your problem until you very thoroughly explain the problem. The difficulty is compounded by the translation of GUI manipulations into spoken or written words (“Uh, yeah, then I clicked this little corner by….”). So now the customer is dealing with pent up frustrations plus the annoyance of mentally going through the whole situation and explaining it as best they can.

From this point on support can take a variety of paths. If you’re lucky there’s a quick solution. If not well, you’re really out of luck and the best you can hope is that the problem gets addressed in a future release. In total it sucks.

I’ve dabbled enough in development to know that there’s a very good reason why tech products suck in certain respects. It basically comes down to: a) you didn’t build it (endowed with godly programming abilities) and b) a human or team of humans built it. Even the best of products are never perfect and never will be. These “flaws” usually push the buttons for a limited few but what buttons they press, they get pressed often. It all comes down to catering to the masses and bridging the gap separating design from communication. And no, despite the title this isn’t a post to rant about support. I think they have a tough job that isn’t appreciated enough.