There are many things we take for granted in this world, things we do without even thinking about them. We wake up and take our phone off the charger, check our messages, our emails, open up our social media apps to see what’s happened while we’ve been asleep. It’s a connected world we live in, with so much at our fingertips, that we tend to take forget that the people we talk to on the phone, or in person at the store are actual human beings.
For the past nineteen years, I have worked in customer service and technical support, directly assisting people both in person and over the phone. I have seen people when they are excited about something new – whether that was a new piece of technology, or an adventure they were taking, I have also worked with people who are on the other end of the spectrum and dealing with unfortunate circumstances. But throughout it all, there are a few things that remain the same, things that customer service/tech support agents want you to know and take to heart.
- We don’t make the rules, and no means no.
When we tell you that we can’t do what you’re asking us to do – whether that’s giving you something for free, returning something that is well past it’s return by date, or replacing a device when the issue is user error – we really can’t do it, and pushing the issue only makes us want to hang up on you.
- Just because you read it online, or heard it from a friend, doesn’t make it real.
There are many stories – hoaxes – that have been circulating the web for the past several years that include such falsehoods as “download an app to your phone and put it in the microwave to charge the battery to full in 2 minutes” and “warm your frozen computer safely in the oven on warm” or even the most widespread one shared by word of mouth: “if you scream for a manager loud enough and keep yelling, they will give you whatever you want”.
None of these things are true at all, and point of fact, for most ovens “warm” is between 150 – 200 degrees and at those temperatures, you will be frying whatever electronic device you’re dumb enough to put in the oven.
- Cursing at us won’t get you anywhere.
In fact, most customer service/tech support companies have rules set in place to protect their employees from customer abuse. If you start cursing at us, and we ask you to stop, but you won’t, more often than not, your call will be disconnected.
- We can’t refund your lack of common sense.
A defective product – within its return by date – can be returned for a refund or exchange. A service that went unused, or you forgot to cancel, can usually be returned under specific conditions (for example, returning the previous month’s subscription charges). Something purchased by accident, can usually be returned. But things that your common sense should have told you NOT to do – like purchasing visa gift cards and providing the card numbers to someone over the phone in order to purchase a product you haven’t seen, or sending money by wire transfer in order to get prize money from an international lottery, or paying for a specialty VPN with digital music gift cards – these are things that cannot be refunded.
Just remember this rule of thumb: If it sounds hokey, it probably is hokey.
- The only person who is responsible for your device or information being lost, is you.
When it comes to data, there are a multitude of back up options available, from connecting your device to a computer to download the information through a backup system, to saving your information to cloud storage, to using a media card, or external hard drive to backup your information. Digital data, even if backed up, can be corrupted. If there are important photos or contacts you don’t want to lose, make hard copies of that information and keep them somewhere safe. Don’t wait until it’s too late to search for the things you don’t want to lose.
As for a device, most phones, tablets, music players, even some eReaders, have native tracking software and location tracking apps that can be downloaded as well as options for securing the device through passcodes, passwords, or other such digital locks. Be responsible for your own devices and make certain that they are secured and that you have a way of locking your data, and if you don’t know how to do it – look it up, but don’t expect someone else to do it for you.
- We are not your punching bags.
Everyone has bad days, and we understand that, but that person on the other end of the phone, or standing in the store you’re visiting, is not there for you to take your frustration out on. If you’re in a bad mood, take a deep breath and reset, calm down, and then call in, or go to the store.
- We may be an employee, but we are not your employee.
On of the most common attitudes that I’ve gotten from people over the years can be described as this: “You have a job because I bought the products your company sells, and since I have a problem, that makes you mine to command.” No. Flat out, hard stop, get off the crazy train, the answer to that is NO. Just because you bought whatever shiny bauble you have, that does not in any manner mean that you somehow own the person you are talking to. And on that note, if you treat your employees the way you treat the people you talk to when calling in for tech support, it’s a miracle you have a business at all.
- Don’t waste our time.
Despite popular misconception, we know when we’re being lied to. Trust me, we’ve heard it all, from ‘I lost my device because my wife went into labor’ to ‘there is a demonic entity living in my phone’ to ‘I bought the TV/computer/device/etc a year ago, but I just opened it today’ to ‘I never got a receipt because the printer was out of paper’. On that last one, believe me, there is always more register tape, and in more recent years, there’s an email option.
Set aside at least 30 minutes, if not more depending on what the issue you’re having is. Don’t call us up, or come into a place of service, and get mad when something takes more than 10 minutes to work on. There are some issues that have taken upwards of 4 hours to resolve. Wasting our time, only wastes yours in return and leaves both parties frustrated and annoyed.
- Yes, you do have to put in effort.
Despite what you might think, there’s no magic button on our side that allows us to somehow make your device work again. There are steps we will need you to take, sometimes, we’ll even need you to repeat those same steps multiple times throughout the troubleshooting to test for a resolution. Depending on the reason for your call/visit there may even be scripted information that we have to read to you, and scripted questions that we are required to read and get answers to. Rushing us, or telling us to “skip it” gets you nowhere. Believe me, we don’t want to read it anymore than you want to listen to it.
- This is the most important one, folks, so listen up! The way you treat us is in direct relation to the way we treat you and the support you get as a result.
You know that old saying “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”? It’s true. Remember it. Take it to heart, and practice it in everyday life. If you are nice and respectful to us, we are much more willing to go above and beyond for you. On the contrary, if you start yelling, belittling, or disrespecting us, we’ve already decided to do only the barest minimum required to resolve your issue because the only thing we want is to get you away from us as soon as possible. So, be nice, be patient, be respectful, and you’ll find you’ll have a much better experience.
As long as you keep these 10 things in mind, especially number 1, you will not only improve your day, but help make the day better for someone who usually only gets the crap end of the deal.