Not So Service-Oriented

As we prepare for our annual Customers First feature, I had what may only be described as a Customers Last experience this weekend.

I called Symantec’s customer helpline because of a virus problem and Norton difficulties and, no suprise, was connected to an outsourced call center. After SEVEN hours on the phone with six Symantec employees, I hung up on the last person because he giggled when I told him how frustrated I was.

I called Sony (my computer’s a VAIO) to see if they had any advice. A nice woman from Alabama picked up and suggested a few options. The agent was gracious, spoke clearly and said she understood my anger. When I called back to ask a follow-up question, the automated system recognized my phone number, asked if I was calling about a follow-up question, and connected me immediately.

I’m not saying outsourcing customer sevice is always bad, but when you’re dealing with something as complicated as a computer, ease of understanding is key. I want someone who can walk me through the steps quickly.

Is it ever okay to cut corners (by outsourcing or using automated services rather than humans) on customer service in the case of technical support? I’m not convinced it’s worthwhile, but would like to hear other opinions or stories of horrific or exemplary service.