My first real technical support job was for a 3rd party call center and I was providing support for customers of a major antivirus company (I’ll be leaving out company names out of professional courtesy). I was so excited when I started there. I’ve always been a bit of a computer nerd and this was my break into doing it professionally.
I loved that job. I loved the challenge whenever I got a call to remove a previously unknown infection and I loved the joy and relief I could hear in the voices of the customers I was able to help.
I also hated that job. I hated that the metrics were more important than the customer, which trained the technicians to jump to less than ideal solutions just to get the customers off the phone quickly and keep their metrics down. To this day I am ashamed of the number of customers I told to re-install windows when it was not necessary, but because that solution meant sending them somewhere else, it was faster for us (certainly not for the customer).
Eventually, the antivirus company decided to save money and send support overseas and it was time for me to move on. I held a number of support jobs after that and I learned something new at each one. But at most of these places, everything came second to these metrics. That is until I got a job at a young remote support company.
At this company, one of the first things I was told is “do what’s right for the customer”. I was so happy. This is how it was supposed to be and it was reflected in both my co-workers and the customers. My co-workers were genuinely happy. Customers might be frustrated by their computer problems, but you could hear the frustration melting away almost immediately knowing that they were getting real help.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for that to end. After acquiring a couple major telecommunications companies as customers, supporting their customers, the company I worked for started adopting the same types of policies I had seen at so many places before. Customer’s frustration because of these policies would rub off on technicians and the business culture was destroyed. By that time I had been made supervisor. After just a few months of these policies being put in place, I could see the strain being put on the technicians and escalations to customer care had risen significantly. Upper management was blind to these problems. They saw the metrics and the income and thought they were doing everything right.
I could not continue this way. Our customers deserved better and the technicians deserved better. So I parted ways with this company and started Hey PC Guy with my friend and colleague Barry.
We spent a lot of time talking about what went wrong at this other company and how to prevent making the same mistakes.
We implemented what we dubbed “In-Touch”, agreeing that EVERYone, regardless of position will spend a set amount of consecutive hours every month in a customer facing position experiencing what our technicians and customer care representatives experience.
We chose to use a flat rate model so that we are able to help multiple customers without charging them for time that is in truth split between them.
We decided that technicians need the freedom to make decisions that are in the customer’s best interest.
And we created a performance based pay-scale, allowing the technician to earn more based on the number of happy customers they help with the goal of having the best paid and happiest PC techs in the country.
I believe that we have an opportunity to show the industry that genuine caring is the smart business decision. By capturing a large enough market segment, we can demonstrate to service based businesses that customers are more than the sums of their wallets.