Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Tech Companies: Hire some staff. And train them…

Tech companies drive me bananas. IO deal with lots of them, as a developer. I won’t list the ones I’m talking about, but we all know the names of the big ones. Most (not all) of them seem incredibly incompetent when dealing with small business partners, and of course…customers.

More than one big tech company has assigned me an ‘account manager’ who insists on telephoning me to ‘catch up’ or to ‘discuss how I might use the service better’. Not when I want to talk to them, but when they decide to phone me. I’ve threatened one such company that if they ever phone me again I’ll stop working with them.

(Obviously its insanely crazy for an INTERNET company to decide that they should talk to their customers by phone rather than…I dunno, maybe email? a far superior asynchronous means of communication that comes with free perfect logging of all information… but I digress…)

Much more annoying than this weird phone fetish that these companies occasionally have is when they decide the best way to deal with customer support is not to have any, or at best, to deal with it at the end of a two hundred step process of making people go through menus and drop down lists. I’ve just been trying to communicate to one such company about a problem they have, which they assume is mine (but is not), and there is literally no way to email them. None. nada. I have gone through the endless drop down lists for the ‘frequently asked questions’ about my problem, but it isn’t there. And like many of these genius companies, they have firmly refused to have a ‘my problem isn’t listed here, please contact me’ option.

Odf course its absolutely hilariously when companies like this have some major bug or website glitch causing mayhem, but nobody has any way to tell them about it. Pure Schadenfreude. I could reply to one of the many emails I get from them DEMANDING that I sign the updated 45 page legal agreement that changes every week, but obviously thats from one of those lovely ‘donotreply’ email addresses…

What I don’t get is the reasoning behind all this. If these tech companies were operating on tiny profit margins and had no money, and desperately needed to cut costs and run slimmed down operations…then sure. But these companies are often making billions, or tens of billions of dollars every year. Hiring some staff to reply to emails is NOT expensive, it really isn’t. And even hiring high quality staff, sending them on dedicated raining courses about the companies products, and giving them decent employee perks and bonuses and so on…it really isn’t going to break the bank for these guys. (They do not do this. I’ve never spoken to anyone at google who knows how their systems work even half as well as I do, a casual user…).

And yet instead…they sit on vast piles of cash so huge that it defies calculation, money that they neither return to stockholders or invest in new ventures. Its like they are trying to pretend that the money does not exist and that the *worst possible thing* they could do with that money is to give people jobs doing something their customers would appreciate.

I just do not get it.


5 thoughts on Tech Companies: Hire some staff. And train them…

  1. It’s not just the software / computer industry.
    Recently I wanted to hire a van for a few days. Would be several hundred pounds to them. But I had a simply but important question I needed to ask first. I could find no way on their website of asking it so I called them. And got trapped in a maze of options, none of which fitted what I wanted, and the closest ones wouldn’t let me past until I entered my hire contract number which I didn’t yet have. The other options wanted my postcode and phone number before I could talk to a human. I gave them false ones. The human I got through to then said that I needed a different department but they were only open 10am to 4PM on weekdays.

    In the end I gave up and went to a different company.

  2. I think the problem is mainly one of (a lack of) internal communication. These companies are too big for anyone to know how all the parts of the company fit together.

    If you finally do manage to get hold of customer support (which always exists, somewhere), and tell them your grievances, it can go wrong in so many places:

    a) Customer support person does not have “hard time reaching customer support” in their flowchart, so they nod and apologize but otherwise ignore your rant.

    b) Even if they do know to escalate these issues, it’s not in their best interest. The more issues are resolved by an FAQ, the fewer customer support people are actually needed. Most of these jobs can be done by anyone after a week of training at best, so I can totally understand that people are afraid to lose them.

    c) Maybe, just maybe, you get someone who enables their brain for a second, *and* is selfless or secure enough to do the right thing and escalate. The request ends up with some manager type who couldn’t care less, and ignores it.

    d) Maybe the manager is also clueful and passes the request on to the documentation team. But the documentation team is currently busy increasing the ratio 404 responses by moving pages around without redirects, so it goes into a queue somewhere and gets ignored for a while longer.

    e) When the issue finally does get picked up, the documentation person who is supposed to write the contact info page cannot figure out which email addresses or phone numbers should be put on that page, and has nobody to ask, because customer support is a different department.

    f) Even if they do get in touch with customer support to figure out how customers should contact them, customer support says “gee, I don’t know, we just get a ticket in MegaCorpTicketSystem Pro and reply to it”…

    Maybe overly cynical, but not altogether unrealistic in my experience…

  3. You got it all backwards. It’s only because these companies’ owners and/or boards require them to operate with pointlessly large profit margins. So they have to desperately cut down costs and run slimmed down operations. They cannot return the money to shareholders or invest it either, as that would show that they have been making a profit in spite of their creative bookkeeping and invite an investigation from the tax men.

  4. Customer support is less of a liability through phones, they save a recording to their benefit. Papertrails are dangerous.

  5. Interesting fact about phone calls in the UK – only one party has to inform the other that the call is being recorded and then *both* parties can record it and use that recording as they wish. If they say it first then you’re under no obligation to let them know that you are also doing so. Add a handy app that records phone calls and you have a nice record of every lie they told you :)

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