Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Who are they talking to?

There are occasions when even the tech-savvy have to call a technical support line. You would think that we would have an advantage, speaking the same language and what not, but that depends on what type of person answers the phone. Speaking to other support lines I have discovered them staffed by basically two different types of people: Techs and Agents. There are, of course, other words that can used to describe them, but I'm trying to keep this blog rated PG.

Technicians, or Techs, are knowledgeable individuals who are experienced in their field of support. They are able to interact with the customer by listening to a description of the issue, ask pertinent questions and guide the customer to actions which either resolve the problem or provide information on what will. Techs know their subject or know where to go to fill in the gap (usually Google), so it is tough to throw them off their game. The best techs will exude an air of confidence even when they are completely stymied by an issue. A conversation with a tech may be frustrating, but in the end they have done their best to resolve your problem by bringing to bear all their knowledge and experience.

An Agent, on the other hand, could be replaced by a voice recognition system and some BASIC programming. They start the call by reading a script. Once you have presented your problem they take a moment to look up another script which guides them through various questions and procedures to try in an effort to resolve your issue. Deviation from the script puts them into a tail spin from which there may be no recovery until they give you some pointless task to get you off their phone and/or escalate to a next-level technician. In a way it's like calling a telemarketer and about as fun.

As you can imagine, an IT tech calling another IT tech is usually a quick, painless call that leaves both parties satisfied. An IT tech calling an Agent is a special little hell somewhat akin to having dental surgery without anesthetic while they pump Yoko Ono to you through headphones with no foam ear covers.


  1. Been there, done that. My favorite techs ran off to University and never returned home. Now I just have Patrick to rely on. Computer Geeks are wonderful people to be related to.