Tech support shortcomings try patience, thwart productivity

I’ve always been a fan of “artificial intelligence,” starting with an elementary robot that looked like an erector set in motion. I was a small child, and my next-door neighbor had discovered a way to repurpose the robot to function as a TV remote. Pretty cool and heady stuff back then.

Today’s technology is both impressive and infuriating. Just about everyone I know—myself included—marvels over its capabilities and grouses about glitches and “good concepts gone wrong.”

While the technologies themselves can be frustrating enough, it’s the “customer support” arena that frosts my hide more often than not. When is the last time you tried to get a real human being to help you at Google…or LinkedIn? There are plenty of “knowledge bases” to accommodate questions and concerns, and places to submit trouble tickets, sometimes at least.

But, talk with a real person? Fuggedaboudit most of the time. And when you do get someone on the phone, scripted apologies and commentary often predominate over getting any real answers or help.

Then there’s Amazon, a shining example of how technology and support can work harmoniously and effectively. While Amazon, as many technology-driven platforms, makes it difficult to find a phone number, once you do the help is reliable and nearly immediate. Several times I’ve called, left info for a call back, and gotten that call within 30 seconds.

Then, once connected with a real live person, I’ve always gotten suitable resolution. While they also talk too much like scripted speakers, at least they communicate and get the job done.

If Amazon can do it, why can’t—or won’t—the Googles or LinkedIns offer a competent level of live human support? One seemingly obvious answer is the money model. Many Google services are free, as are LinkedIn’s. However, I signed up for LinkedIn Premium ($80/month), and have been unable to get a return phone call to address several concerns. They say they will call back, but unless you’re an Enterprise-level subscriber, I guess the answer is “Fuggedaboudit!”

Normally, when I receive this level of non-support, I stop subscribing. However, I decided to give LinkedIn a month to see if their “Sales Navigator” service is worth a continuing investment. So far, I’m on the fence. But, the issue that will probably knock me off the quickest into the non-paid camp is their lack of customer support. (And, by the way, trying to get answers through their canned knowledgebase has proven ineffective and confusing, as well.)

Call centers require a substantial investment of time and money to do the job right. Likewise, knowledge bases generally come up short for anything beyond the basics. So, in today’s techno-driven models, you’re increasingly on your own to figure it out—or find another company that will give you the needed support.

I find myself feeling almost giddy allegiance to the Amazons of the world. Just like Costco, they know how to treat their customers right, instead of figuratively flipping you off when it comes to providing live support.

How this will evolve? If there’s one truth amid all the technological tumult and advancement, it’s that people still want to do business with those they like, trust and respect. Gaining all three can be extremely difficult when trying to navigate complicated and confusing technological waters without any human touch.

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Mark Lusky, President, Mark Lusky Communications (aka The Happy Curmudgeon) is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience. READ BIO

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