[bct] Re: Dell Nightmares-- Larry's walk

  • From: "Neal Ewers" <neal.ewers@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 7 Mar 2006 16:48:43 -0600

Debee, I can certainly speak about the outsourcing.  I have nothing
against people from other countries, but the last call I made to tech
support was answered by a person in the Virgin Islands.  The problem
was, his English was so poor, that I really don't think he had a clue
about what I was asking.


-----Original Message-----
From: blindcooltech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:blindcooltech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Debee Norling
Sent: Tuesday, March 07, 2006 4:43 PM
To: blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [bct] Re: Dell Nightmares-- Larry's walk

A couple of comments. I think Dell is getting too big because the
products used to be higher quality. It seemed like this happened too
with Gateway about ten years ago; they had great quality control, got
really popular, and suddenly everyone was complaining about purchasing
lemons from Gateway.

My guess is that if Dell screws up enough,  it could actually be to our
benefit, because they'll get bad press, spend more on quality control
and gradually move back up towards producing a better product. So I'd
maybe buy a Dell five years from now, but not today!

I worked in tech support for ten years, and I can tell you three dirty
secrets. First, as a product support rep, you aren't graded on the
quality of your technical help, but you are most often measured by the
number of calls per hour you can crank through. I remember at
Stenograph, when I was managing only thirty calls per hour and was told
that I need to notch up to forty to be like the "best" people in the
department. Later, when my productivity-happy boss got promoted, my new
boss promoted me to a tech support lead because of my technical
knowledge and  not, happily for me, the call volume.

The second dirty secret is that tech support is really being outsourced.
High-tech sweat shops employ workers barely over minimum wage with just
a week or two of training to provide cookbook answers to common problems
and to get the customer off the phone as quickly as possible. I know of
three big call centers in Sterling Colorado, Atlanta Georgia and Buffalo
New York that actually handle many large companies' tech support
contracts.  In this environment, it is better to hire people with less
tech skill, because the average workers will be able to demonstrate
higher productivity -- they will have fewer clever troubleshooting
suggestions to offer.

The third dirty secret is that if you, the customer,  threaten to
complain to an entity that matters, like the media, your problem will be
moved out of the sweat shop and if one is available, on to a tech who is
really savvy. The trick is to get the company to desire themselves to
solve your problem rather than them just wanting to get you out of the
over-long hold queue.

For example, at Caere, when they promoted me, I stopped talking to
ordinary customers. I was called the lead OmniPage technician but
ordinary people no longer had access to me.  Instead I talked
exclusively with the big accounts, like Kinkos, that had several
thousand licenses and who requested an experienced tech to work with
them. My call volume was no longer monitored and I was free to actually
solve their problems! This is because Caere had large clients, like
recruiters, who scanned thousands of resumes a day, and they wanted to
keep those clients happy. It mattered little if the average Best Buy
purchaser was satisfied.

So the ordinary customer had to either talk to a sweatshop worker or
plow through the limited knowledge base. I wrote many of the knowledge
base articles but then some idiot weedede them down  so that each
consumed only one screen, cutting out 75% of my troubleshooting

When ScanSoft bought Caere and moved aggressively towards promoting
their knowledge base, I was amused to find that they ressurected those
long first drafts of many of my articles in an attempt to -- guess what
-- reduce their call volume!


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