The Soapbox Archives:
The biggest quality that should be required for tech support is "empathy". THe customer is probably frustrated and upset and you have to help them and make sure they hang up the phoen having had a great experience, even if they didn't get what they had expected. You have to understand and appreciate that not everyone knows what you know, not everyone thinks the same way that you do. Someone in tech support should understand it and act accordingly.
One problem in the early days of the Unix operating system was that the programmers wrote their programs and gave them short names so they wouldn't have to type so much. They just assumed that the user was as intelligent as them and would already know all the Unix commands. For instance, if they wanted to count the number of words in a text file called "filename", they'd type in "wc [filename]" where you'd replace "[filename]" with the name of file. "wc", of course, means "word count". However, a new user won't understand that; "wc" is not intuitive for the average user.
One product I used to use was Rational Rose® ("Rational" was the company name; "Rose" was the name of the product. I think IBM owns them now.). This product allowed programmers to go through all the possible scenario's that a product user would go through and hopefully catch all the possible non-standard input that a user might execute. Imagine changing your password and not being required to re-enter the same password again to confirm it? What if your fingers slipped and you hit the wrong key, and since you're a touch-typist, you're not looking at the keyboard. Imagine encrypting all your files and entering the wrong password?
What do these two differnt subjects have to do with anything?
I'm glad you asked.
I was at the Band of America ATM near work. One of the ATMs in the bank is one of the new ones that will accept the new cards with the security chip in them. The first two instructions are:
I get to step two and wait. And wait. And wait. Then I get tired of waiting and pull out the card. The ATM will then tell me to re-insert the card. Why? I just did that and the ATM didn't do anything. This has happened bunches of times over the last few months. (after I put my card back in, things performed as expected).
This last time I was in the bank while it was still open and there was a customer service representative there. She came over and I explained the situation. Her response was, "that's the way it works" after I told her that it's a bad software design (I didn't comment on the stupidity of the programmers. No, wait. I did). I walked through the steps and demonstrated that the ATM didn't tell me to pull out my card out and re-insert it. Her comment here was "and I'm here to show you how to do it (correctly)"0. What if I was there after hours when no one was around to help me? Why was she trying to cover up a poorly designed piece of software? If she were a salesperson, I would expect her to sell me on the fact that it was a poor design but I was lucky to have it that way. She was a *customer* support representative and should pretend to be on my side. She shouldn't be telling me that I needed to be trained to use the new ATMs. It's an ATM, designed to used when there no humans around to help out with questions. The software designers should have been asking themselves, "what possible things could be happening during an ATM experience and how do we plan for that?". The customer service rep should not be trying to cover up the blatant flaws of their company's product; do they think that this is a good way to instill trust in them and their bank?