Thursday, August 16, 2007

Customer "Service" (Outsource-Style)

Note from Mrs4444….Today’s blog is basically a rant, mostly for my benefit, with some helpful advice for people who find themselves needing on-line technical support. That said, I won’t be hurt if you’d prefer, instead, to read one of my archived blogs, instead. Please explore…and thanks for sharing some of your valuable time with me.

Well, I’m finally back on-line after three days. I was afraid to go on-line, because thanks to *Norton Antivirus, which was not working, our computer was vulnerable, and I was afraid to go on line. Three days off line?! It’s a wonder I didn’t end up in a hospital over this one! It’s a long story, but the short beginning is that my Norton Antivirus was messed up. Two different versions happened to be running at the same time, and when one expired, they pulled the plug on everything. Not too worried (it would be a simple fix, I was sure), I began my quest to get it taken care of. I have learned a few things from this experience and would like to share these pearls, with the hope that if this ever happens to you, we can start a support group.

First of all, begin the resolution of a problem with Symantec (which services the Norton system via an outsourcing group) with a few cocktails. It’s best if you are relaxed, because it will take at least an hour to reach anyone on line, and you could develop high blood pressure if you get in a “phone queue,” assuming, of course, that you expect a human being on the line within 30 minutes. There are actually some really great technicians in India. I’m serious; I’m on a first-name basis with Shajeesh, Shinto, Prabhakar now. (I stopped recording names after a while.) The techs really do want to help, once you reach them. Each one was very hard-working and polite. And it’s encouraging, while they’re working, to remember that they each tell you, just before hanging up, that “you will be receiving an email from Symantec Managers to ask for feedback on your call.” The first time I heard it, I thought, “Okay, whatever. Like I have time for another survey.” The third, fourth, and fifth time that I heard it, I became increasingly obsessed with the thought of how I would respond to the emails. (I’m still waiting for the emails, but the way, which is inspiration for this blog)

Chuckle to yourself a little when you see the “Support” button on the website you are led to for Norton Help, because what it really means, of course, is “Click here for a few more bulletins. We don’t really want you to call; we want you to fix the problem yourself. Read these FAQs; we’re sure you’ll have this problem taken care of in a minute.” Chuckle, because you are not going to fall for that! Here’s a tip: four screens later, you will only see the “click here to call us” link if you scroll to the bottom of the window. Second, here’s a tip worth its weight in gold: If you choose this link, do it three days in advance of your problem, because after you put your phone number in the “phone queue” to be contacted after “30 minutes,” you will not be contacted at all. Wait a day, call again, but go shopping, pay the bills, take a bath and take a nap, because you will have no phone interruptions from Symantec. Only on your THIRD attempt, will you get a response. I’m not kidding. I do believe this is an actual policy; wait for three calls from the customer. On my third call, I was immediately given a “Priority ID Number,” which actually does lead you to a human being who seems to want to help.

On a side note, it’s really kind of cool to watch while a technician across the world gains access to your computer and takes over your Mouse to explore your computer and run it through its paces. It’s cool, but only the first time. To make a long story short, Symantec fixed my problem, but only after 20 HOURS of sitting in front of my computer with the tech guy(s) controlling my mouse. I know you think I’m joking, but I am not. In three days’ time, I worked four different 4-7 hour shifts at Symantec. I say I worked, because I had to sit in front of my computer and communicate every now and then with the technicians. (Three of these sessions went until 2:00am and later, because we were working from time zones about 12 hours apart. I can at least be grateful that they are open 24-hour per day, I guess.) Why didn’t I just hang up and start over the next day? “Please wait a moment, Mam. Please allow me to try one more thing.” Very, very hard workers, these techs are. My guess is that they also enjoyed the challenge of my very complicated issue.

Never mind that every single tech was very, very courteous and CALM. The trouble was that even with a Priority code, even given a “Case ID Number” each time, each time I called back, I began with a new tech, who either did not have access to the previous report, lied about that access, or didn’t care. I wish I had a dollar for every new tech who told me, “There is no need to worry. I will help you. It will be fixed shortly. Thank you for your patience, Mam” (Read that again, with an Indian accent, for full effect.) The first couple of times I read it, it was comforting. The last two times, I actually laughed out loud when they said it. I applaud their “Can-do!” attitudes, but I would have preferred to either work with the same person or at least start from where we left off, rather than going backwards over and over. (Yes, I did ask to speak to a supervisor at one point. He was very nice, but really just placating. He did not help me. It’s not his fault he was merely a figurehead. I’m not really sure he had any authority.)

I feel a little better now; at least I am on-line. My computer is free from viruses. But guess what? Our subscription expires in November….maybe I should start planning a trip to India?

*I’m not even sure that Norton actually keeps my computer safe. I downloaded Spywarebot for free a few months ago, and it has ferreted out more than 10 threats to our computer’s security, threats that Norton did not bring to my attention. I am open to feedback on this…

1 comment:

  1. My husband says that Norton is junk. We do not use Norton. My husband recommends (Grisoft) A.V.G. It's a free anti-virus. It's Japanese it's in the top 10 of anit-virus. He also recommends AVG anti-root kit (free also). Last but not least (Lavasoft) adware. You can run all these for free, and it's better than what you can buy. My husband is a computer genius. He knows alot about them. He fixes alot of them for the guys at work.


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