In the digital age people live by technology and use it to do amazing things. So why is it so hard to get amazing tech support? Bad tech support limits our ability to live, work and create in better and smarter ways. It also prevents us from fully embracing technology as a tool that can unite us as a people to work towards a better future through technological innovation. But the thing that is worse than bad tech support is the reality that it is intentional.
In 2016, The New York Times published an article called “Why Tech Support Is (Purposely) Unbearable” which shares insight on how businesses have designed and monetized bad tech support and even addresses the negative impact that bad tech support may have on your mental health. Such practices include deliberately placing callers on hold, constantly shuffling customers from one agent to another, “accidentally” disconnecting from frustrated users and solving an immediate issue instead of the root cause so that the customer must call back another time.
Justin Robbins, a former tech support agent who now oversees research and editorial at the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), says that these practices are because most businesses are running a cost-per-contact model which limits the amount of time an agent can be on the engage with you. He further explains that businesses have monetized this service model by inserting as many opportunities as they can to remind the customer that they would receive better service if they had a paid support plan. The goal is to provide the minimal level of service, maximum profit and antagonize customers into premium plans.
Although this service model is harmful to businesses, as companies lose 52% of their customers to a competitor over bad services, it is also harmful to customers by posing a risk to mental health. According to the article, mental health experts explain that when we are faced with an illogical or unsolvable situation our brains feel threatened. Getting caught in the tech support loop, talking to poorly built automated machines or chat bots, being kept on hold, being passed from agent to agent, having to speak with agents that cannot speak good English, etc, are all things that our minds recognize as not making sense and make us feel helpless. Our brains enter fight or flight mode but since we can’t do either, as we’re stuck on the other end of a phone call, it provokes what they call “tech support rage”. So not only does today’s tech support suck, but it is also a risk to your mental health. Fun!
While cable and mobile providers are the most common offenders, for over a decade, Geek Squad, arguably the most well-known tech service provider, has been universally panned by customers on review boards for the implementing the same types of shady practices. Forums like Consumer Affairs and Customer Service Score Board are filled with user complaints and average ratings of 1 out of 5 stars. Despite this, Geek Squad continues to bring in at least 3%, approximately $1 billion dollars, of Best Buy’s annual earnings according to a report. People turn to Geek Squad because there are no other “better” options, but Geek Squad’s “better” is still not good enough.
Bad tech support creates a barrier between us and technology. We’re less likely to engage in innovations beyond their basic uses when we feel that we won’t be supported when it gives us trouble. People are the main inspiration for newer technologies. You set the trend, create the demand and most importantly, you spend your money on this stuff. You deserve better tech support. That is where we come in. Join our mailing list and participate in our open beta for our Uber for tech support style app for cool perks. Your feedback will help us create the perfect app where you can get you the tech support that you deserve.