Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Tech Support “Disconnect”

OK, I think I’ve finally figured out what’s going on. For as long as I’ve been calling technical support and some customer service hotlines, I’ve encountered a very high percentage of those calls then end up being “disconnected”. I hadn’t really given it much thought until this past weekend when my latest tech support “disconnect” occurred.

The Sirius satellite radio I have in my truck suddenly stopped allowing me to receive programming other than the one channel that tells the unsubscribed that they need to call a certain number to get service. I was paid-up so there had to be some mistake. I called the number and was put through to a tech support rep. The guy tried to walk me though possible solutions, but after about ten minutes or so seemed to be out of ideas. At that point he told me he was going to put me on hold, which he quickly did before I could object or even get his name. 10 or 15 minutes went by and I knew what I would be hearing next. Not the tech support guy returning with a solution, but a dial or busy tone. And I was right. The next thing I knew I had somehow been “disconnected”.

This has happened so many times that I now have determined this has to be deliberate. The tech/customer service rep can’t or won’t admit they are unable to find a solution to my problem and rather than say so, they put me on hold and then conveniently lose my call accidentally-on-purpose. They know I’ll call back, but since I haven’t asked them their name, the odds of them getting me again about nil. Even when I do get a name, calling back usually results in me getting someone who says they can handle my call and there is no need for me to talk to my original rep. Which means I have to explain my problem all over again and go through all of the initial, but failed, solutions.

Anyway, I did call Sirius back and got a different rep (who just couldn’t understand whatever might have happened to my first call) who got me trough my problem and I was back to being able to receive my satellite signals. So all’s well that ends well but I’m now on to the tech support “easy way out” method of passing on their unsolvable problems.


rickmonday said...


Of course this could be just an anomally but I doubt it. My business interacts with call centers all the time and here are a couple of things about call centers to keep in mind.

Call center managers track everything and are constantly looking for ways to improve.

A fully loaded FTE (full time employee) or CSR (customer service rep) in that space can run $35to $50/hr. So, many call centers outsource to 3rd parties for $20-$35/hr. (more for specialists like nurses or pharmacy techs).

Call centers also must meet certain SLA's, service level agreements, for both contractual and customer satisfaction purposes. For example, if you are ATT and only have 1 line and one CSR at your call center, your customers may be on hold for hours and hours. This obviously is unacceptable so ATT needs to hire more CSR's to meet the demand. The average inbound call, according to Gartner, costs anywhere from $3.00 to $7.00 for a human to handle. So anything that they can do in an automated manner, helps save money. For example, the IVR menu that you may first encounter tries to handle common problems: password reset, account balance, need to accept a payment, WISMO (where is my order) etc..but on average 65% hit zero and are transferred to a CSR.

Thus ATT wants to find the mininum number of CSR's to hire in order to meet the demand, it is an art to find the correct number. Hire too few and your customers get ticked off or you do not adhere to your SLA. Hire too many and you lose money as you have people sitting on the bench with very few phone calls to answer.

In that light, almost every call center metric is measured in detail. You have ASP (average speed to answer), Average Wait Time, Average Length of Call, Total number of inbound calls, Peak calling time, First Call Resolution, on and on.

So getting back to your problem, I would suspect that the CSR intentionally hung up because his or her's length of call time was grossly exceeding the average. His metrics and thus bonus were getting out of whack and he needed to end the call.

Also, the number of seats being outsourced overseas is starting to come down due to the language barrier and more are using companies that employ part time stay at home CSR's who log in from their home offices to handle customer service issues.

nancy said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah, but how do the Clintons play into this problem?

Dave said...


Your conclusion is what I’m guessing happened. It doesn’t look good on the tech support guy’s record that he had to be on the phone with me that long, and even worse that he couldn’t fix my problem. Best for him that we got “disconnected”.

geek_guy said...

I provide tech support at work, (un)fortunately I am not in a call center and my customers know me.

part time stay at home CSR's who log in from their home offices to handle customer service issues.
I've had to provide support from home sometimes after hours or my day off.

Will said...

Sprint is horrible about this in my experience. When they call me to tell me to pay my bill there's no problem. But when I call with a problem or question the connection is often so bad I can barely understand the other person and I frequently get disconnected. I don't experience getting disconnected with Sprint at any other time. Hell, they're a PHONE COMPANY and they can't stop disconnections at their customer service center?!