RANDOM REVIEW: 2013 A.D.

2013As the final hours of the year tick away, I have to say that 2013 was a really good one for me.

After years of dealing with apartments and all that malarkey, I broke down and bought a house.  Home ownership has been pretty awesome so far: I went from one-bedroom apartments to a two-bedroom house with a garage and a huge backyard and rabbits and I can barbeque and have friends over and I love it.  Given the age of the house, home repairs and replacing things will eventually come but for now its been smooth sailing.

On the e-book front, I decided to try to sell printed copies of my work at a few conventions and events and failed spectacularly, at least from a business standpoint.  I can count my total sales on my hands.  People just don’t read much anymore, or at least not the types of folks that go to anime or furry conventions.  On the plus side, I did get to talk to lots of folks, present some panels and if nothing else, hopefully inspire some folks to ‘go it alone’ themselves.  I only published one new e-book (should have been two, but life and all that) and definitely need to up my output next year.

2013 was a fun year of conventions, camping, writing, video games, furries, cookies, home maintenance and most importantly, friends and family. I am optimistic that 2014 will be even better; my goal is to compete at least two story collections as well as the follow-up to “The Rules of Tech Support,” which is my best-seller so far.  I am also hoping to attend some new conventions, make new friends, and well, get some work done on the house.  So without any further ado:

MISSION START!

“De-empathized”

square coverTech support folks are often accused of not caring about customer problems.  Most of you won’t want to hear this (and the rest of you will nod your heads in agreement), but the unfortunate truth is that yeah, many of us in tech support really don’t care about your problem.

A tech support person hears so much wailing and gnashing of customer teeth over the course of their job that it eventually fails to have any meaningful effect.  We eventually become ‘de-empathized’ and thus lose our ability to feel empathy or sympathy towards our customers.  Most of us don’t start out with much to begin with so it doesn’t take very long to reach that point.

Why?  A few reasons:

First, a tech can interact with a lot of customers, particularly if they do phone support. Let’s assume a tech talks to 20 customers over the course of a day:  That adds up to 100 people over the course of a week, or 5,200 people in a year.  Considering that the majority of them of them are calling because something is not working, a fairly high percentage of them are going to be angry, upset, and frustrated.  While most people are civil, many are not, and of course, there are a few jerks, to put it politely.  I submit to you that it is very difficult to hear all that negativity (to say nothing of the stupidity) and not have it affect you.

Secondly, techs get the same paycheck regardless of how many problems they fix or don’t fix.  If a tech puts in extra effort its probably because you’re being nice, or at least civil, but there are usually no consequences for not being able to fix a problem.  As much as I hate to admit, there are some problems that we can’t fix.

Finally, there is the repetition of hearing the same cries/pleads/screams for help day after day after day.  When you hear every customer tell you their problem is a matter of life and death the phrase becomes meaningless.  There is a saying that sums this attitude up best: “A failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”  The constant exaggerating by customers only aggravates us further; are we supposed to believe that a customer just sat behind a computer for three hours on a stuck install?

Don’t confuse indifference for laziness, though:  Those jaded-don’t-give-a-crap support people are still going to do their jobs, but they are going to do it without a single shred of touchy-feely-ness.  I can’t pinpoint exactly when I stopped caring, but I haven’t cared about my customer’s problems for quite some time, now.  Unfortunately the lack of empathy and concern can be heard loud in clear in my ‘phone voice’ at work, and I’ve been called out on it on occasion.

But just like I do when I hear the cry of ‘it has to be done now’ or ‘it was working yesterday’ or ‘its your company’s fault.’  I sigh, fix their problem or tell them it can’t be fixed, and move on to the next person.  Its just water off an apathetic duck’s back.