Two stories have dominated Hardware 2.0 this week. There's been the underperforming/overthrottled Dell Latitude notebooks and the Windows Black Screen of Death debacle. While these are radically different issue, they both raise an issue close to the hearts of those using technology - tech support.
A common thread to both of these stories comes clear in the feedback that I've received from readers. It relates to tech support and the difficulty that users as a whole seem to have with getting help when they need it. In recent years geeks-in-distress are less likely to pick up the phone and more likely to turn to the internet (via email, text chat or forums) for support. This system works well for documented bugs and issues, when the problem at hand isn't that clear cut, those looking for assistance feel that posting to a forum or sending a message via chat or email is more like throwing a coin down a wishing well rather than asking for assistance from a supplier. Many of you feel that even official support forums are too understaffed to be useful, and that threads are too easily hijacked, buried or taken on a tangent.
When it comes to emails and text chat support, quite a number of readers are frustrated and feel that their messages are going off into a black hole, are ignored, promised follow-ups not happening, and issues raised not being answered properly. Another common complaint with these methods of communication is that it's almost impossible to maintain continuity because the tech support agent changes with each email.
Is telephone support any better? According to what many of you are telling me, telephone support can be time-consuming, frustrating, and many lead to an unsatisfactory conclusion. One of the most common complaints with telephone support is the failure of support agents to return calls and follow up.
So, on to today's discussion point. How would you make tech support better? What changes would you like seen made to the way companies interact with those seeking help? What suggestions do you have to the big players in the hardware and software industry to make the whole tech support process smoother.