Technical support: pushing spaghetti through a keyhole

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France
47° 34' 54.6528" N, 2° 39' 31.2876" E

Technical support. Five syllables and a yawning maw of potential frustration!

Here are the two extremes of the technical support spectrum:

Technical support. Five syllables and a yawning maw of potential frustration!

Here are the two extremes of the technical support spectrum:

How it should work:

  • you send an email explaining the problem, asking for a solution
  • an email comes back (without too great a delay) explaining the likely solution
  • you follow the advice that’s been given and it works!

And the alternative:

  • you try to log-on to an on-line support forum
  • you are told to create an account
  • you create the account and are told to check your email for your forum password
  • you check your email, copy the password, re-visit the forum and successfully log on
  • you select the correct forum group for sending a support request for your software product
  • you carefully word your request and send it
  • two days later, you get an email saying your request has been answered but you must re-visit the forum to read it
  • by some miracle, you remember your password, visit the forum, logon, and locate the answer…
  • …but it doesn’t appear to address the question you originally asked…
  • …so you bang off a reply to the reply that re-states the problem in even simpler language
  • you repeat the process until the solution is eventually provided…or you stop using the software in question and maybe even uninstall it

I liken this to pushing spaghetti through a keyhole. It takes ages, doesn’t really resemble anything in the real-world, usually gets nowhere at all and may even put you off eating spaghetti for life!

Oh, God, does it have to be like this? Can’t I just send an email and have a literate, courteous, informed person send me a reply that does the trick?

I know, I know, it must be hell being on the receiving end of these support requests. I’ve heard of users who say that pressing the OK button isn’t working…and it transpires (three exchanges later) that they’ve been clicking the screenshot of the software in the help file. Lord, it must be frustrating. But let’s all raise the game a bit and start with the assumption that the person sending the mail is not an idiot, but is someone just like us who deserves respect, courtesy and a quick turn-around, working solution. Full marks to those who do this day-in day-out.