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Tech Support – when will it cater for people above the Lowest Common Denominator August 12, 2006

Posted by Steve in Moans, Whinges and Rants, Techie Stuff.
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In the latest in my series of rants offering free clue to the businesses of the UK, I turn my attention to ISP Technical Support, and wonder why they seem only to cater for people who require help locating their on-of switch.

Having, on several occasions, had to educate the tech support “agents” on the end of the phone about the protocols which underpin the internet ( for example I’d diagnosed a DNS issue, but needed to explain what DNS does before getting anywhere) it seems to me that these organisations need to do more to address the needs of bone fide geeks who call up.

Usually when I have an issue I’ve already troubleshooted everything at my end. I know what I can and can’t ping, whether I’m getting an IP address over DHCP, I’ve tried a proxy server and third party DNS servers. I don’t need to be asked to go to start, click run and type “C…M…D” into the box, and wait for a black window to appear and type in “P…I…N…G…” (yes, that really did happen)

So here’s a suggestion for the ISPs – train your first line “techs” to recognise when they have somebody on the end of the phone who knows what they are talking about. Train them to pass such calls to somebody who can help them. If a geek is phoning in with an issue, it is something non standard. In fact they’ve probably found a workaround and are doing you the courtesy of calling to let you know that you have a problem. The script isn’t going to cover it so don’t waste the time. Put them through to a fellow geek and let them thrash out the issue between them.

The more experienced technician is going to welcome having somebody on the end of the line who can do diagnostics without having to be walked through it keypress by keypress, and the caller is going to be glad of being able to feel like they’ve helped to sort the problem out. And of course it is these people who are often asked for recommendations for an ISP and will be more likely to give your company a glowing recommendation if they’ve had a good experience with your tech support.

It’s not rocket science, is it? It’s what used to happen at my particular ISP before they outsourced their tech support to clueless people 😦

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