What is it about tech support?
We want to trust that they will solve our problem. But wanting isn't getting.
I had lots of time-on-hold to think about this recently - that is - what bolsters trust and what detracts from it? Here are my recent experiences.
1. My computer died in my sleep. It was under warranty. I called the tech support line. When I tested the computer with the agent on the line, the video card ignited in flames!
The agent stayed calm and made sure I was safe, genuinely caring about me and my home. Then he cared about my hard drive - assuring me that it was likely to be safe as well.
Then he addressed the issue - and decided to replace my computer, rather than just the parts. He described the exchange process, and said it could take one to three weeks, but might come even sooner. It arrived in 3 business days.
2. My PDA Calendar was deleting my entries. I called my cellular carrier. I slogged through one automated system and two phone agents--repeating my identification and other security data, in addition to my issue each time. Most of the conversation was scripted apologies about my woes, repetition of what I just said, and thanks for using their service and calling them. Having exhausted the service available, the last agent rightly granted me access to the manufacturer.
At that point, my experience changed. The first person asked about my problem and for my phone number in case we disconnected. Then I was transferred to a person that already had that information on the screen and who didn't ask me to repeat either my identification information or my issue. He assured me he would stay with me until we resolved the problem - which is what I really wanted - instead of a disingenuous apology. We agreed to break at one point, at my request. He kept his word and called me back right on time, using the number that was logged earlier. And we resolved my problem.
Net net: for my computer problem, I trusted my phone agent, and through him, his company, and will buy from them again. I trust my PDA manufacturer, and will buy another when I'm ready. I'm not so sure about trusting my cellphone service carrier, and may change next time around.
What engendered trust:
• Skipping the unnecessary script and focusing on the problem
• Genuinely caring about me, wanting to help and reassuring me every step of the way
• Being transparent about process
• Keeping promises, showing reliability
• An agent recognizing that he can't help, and referring me to one who can, as quickly as possible.
What detracted from trust:
• Canned apologies, fake empathy, and useless thank-yous designed to meet some behaviorally observable criteria judged by "management" to serve as a proxy for genuine trustworthiness;
• Asking me for the same information over and over and over...making me doubt either their intent or their competence, or both;
• Multiple transfers without results.
That's just me. What makes you trust tech or customer service -- and what makes you cringe and wonder whether anyone really cares?
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