Technical Support - What's it for?

Some musings over recent technical support encounters.


Over the last couple of months I’ve had reason to use the technical support desks of a couple of service providers that I use. It’s funny how you get the feeling of doom knowing you have to communicate with support desks isn’t it? You just by default think you’re about to have a bad experience, and it sets the tone for your initial conversations.

It’s also interesting to see how organisations are turning to social media for listening to their customers too. Some companies do it right...some, well, they need to get back in their back-rooms before they do their business some serious damage.

Firstly, before I get into the main point of this article - I want to offer some feedback on the calls I’ve felt I’ve had to raise recently. I raised two calls, with two different providers.

Firstly, my backup solution in the Cloud was with Crashplan.... and I noticed that I was losing connectivity, and when I was connected the performance was appallingly slow.

Secondly, I’d recently had another ADSL line installed by

Now, before you link the two - I have two other Internet connections I use, another ADSL and a fibre connection. If you want to read why,
have a look at this. So the two issues are not related.

So, out of those two, who do you think I had a sucky experience with? Here’s a subtle hint -
I’ve cancelled my Crashplan service.

Why? Well, firstly, I just want to say that their support desk was quick to get back to me. What they weren’t good at was offering a solution. They just offered a lot of nice words about how they’re aware of it, working on the issue, blah blah blah. It mostly read in a very patronising way. This led me into researching the issue myself - and I discovered a LOT of people were having the issue. My faith evaporated, and I didn’t think they were taking my problem seriously. So I took my business elsewhere.

Now, BT, what a different experience. My issue was that I’d noticed the speed on the BT Broadband line had plummeted down to about 1Mbps. It’s not a line I actively *use* so it was only when looking at what does go over the line I noticed it’s performance sucked.

I mentioned this on Twitter via their
BTCare twitter handle. Within a few minutes I’d had somebody respond (I was astonished, I was expecting to have to go through their support desk) with a link to a small form I could fill in so they could identify me, my service, and what my issues were. Filled it in and very quickly again had another contact confirming they were investigating.

The following day, the service was back on and at a reasonable speed of about 3Mbps. Still not that happy with that speed, as I don’t think that’s what I’m paying for...but, rather than just leave it, BT emailed me explaining that I needed to leave it on a few days so the line could stabilise and establish the speed. This is fair, as I’ve got some insight into how broadband works.

..exactly as stated, the line is back to proper speed within a couple of days.

So what did BT get right that Crashplan got very wrong? Firstly, I felt they were interested in my problem and did want to get a solution. With Crashplan, I got the patronising impression they just wanted the call closed and away as fast as possible, with a complete disregard as to whether my issue was resolved or not. This did change to be fair - but only after I started shouting and screaming about it via the social networks. That’s not the way to keep a happy customer.

This leads me on to the main point of this article - what is your service desk/service offering actually for? By the way - just to set out my stall and interest - while I do not work in a support capacity, my main client who I do a lot of work for, does have a service desk & support offering. I rarely get involved with it so please don’t link the below comments together!

I think a lot of service offerings are begrudgingly put in place to provide support to those pesky customers who can’t work with their products. They seen as a cost base, and are treated as such. This is the impression I got from Crapplan.

Other organisations take a more active approach, and one I think a lot of technical providers could learn from. They use their service offerings as a way to connect with their customers (sounds cheesy, but bear with me) to ensure they’re offering good product. Maintenance of product (whether service or physical produce) is really what you’re business is about isn’t it? Keeping customers has to be your priority?

I’d also think that maintaining existing customers has to be cheaper and easier than going out for find new ones doesn’t it?

For services and products it’s a proper buyers market right now - if a company doesn’t get their relationship right with you as a consumer, you’ll walk away and get better service & product elsewhere. Providers really should remember that when putting together their service offerings.

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