SMEs reveal their tech support gripes

Lack of knowledge, inflated prices and smelly tech support are among the complaints of SMEs in a new survey

Small companies are getting a bad deal from their tech support, a new study has found. IT services firm Blue Screen, who surveyed 100 SMEs (small to medium-sized enterprises) in the UK concerning their experiences of IT support, has compiled a list of the top ten complaints. The top ten tech support complaints (unranked) by SMEs were:

  • Lack of contractor knowledge and training

  • In particular, frustrations with contractors insisting on ineffective reboots and reformatting while they were charging by the hour.
  • Slow response times

  • Leaving companies stranded for days and in some case even weeks.
  • Patronising manner

  • Tendency of helpdesk staff to deal with problems in a patronising and over-simplified manner.
  • Poor value for money

  • IT support contract was felt to be a necessary requirement, but many felt that when it was called upon, it never quite lived up to expectations.
  • Lack of flexibility

  • Not understanding of the needs of SMEs with perhaps only a handful of PCs.
  • Size issues

  • An obvious preference for servicing bigger clients first so leaving smaller ones at the bottom of the pile.
  • The Hard Sell

  • Several companies felt that they had been sold products that suited their supplier rather than being products that perfectly suited their particular IT requirements. Also, it was found that forthcoming IT issues such as upgrades were often not highlighted until a situation became critical, or were used to justify the purchase of sometimes unnecessary equipment.
  • Never seeing the same person twice

  • The lack of an ongoing relationship meant that companies felt frustrated through having to explain their particular network set-up and problems repeatedly to different people.
  • A 'PC-covered' rather than 'company-covered' approach

  • Companies would prefer to think that a support contract covers the company network as a whole rather than just individual PCs.
  • A lack of personal hygiene and understanding of on-site dress codes and protocols

  • Many companies highlighted body odour, halitosis, and inappropriate dress such as "scruffy trainers" and "heavy metal T-shirts" as reasons for dissatisfaction with the technicians that their IT support firms had sent.
One SME recounted an example of their previous support company installing two new hard disks onto a server which then, for some reason, never worked properly. The solution the support company came up with was to replace the hard disks with new ones that did work. The support company invoiced the customer for both sets of disks, faulty and otherwise, and the time spent resolving the problem. Poll: What is your experience of technical support? Another example was the FM Model Agency, which has ten employees and is run by managing director Lauri Curht. He has had many bad experiences and highlighted the need for a quick response, reasonable price and thorough knowledge. "My experience has been a slow response, inflated prices and people fiddling around for hours who clearly do not know what they are doing." "We had a company that set up the network. Often you ring up for support and you have to leave a phone message and they say that somebody will phone you back, and then it's some hours before somebody does phone you back," Curht said. He paid around £100 to £120 per hour for this technical support.
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