Friday, May 18, 2007

Worst Support Ever

As I look back over the life of my company, a dozen or so incidents stand out as the worst support ever.

Here's a quick summary of the top ten in chronological order. I won't bore you with the details. Each is worth a couple of tall brews in a nice pub.

  • AT&T Internet/T-1 Install. Guy before me worked on this for 12 months. I worked an additional 6.

    Result: Resolved to never recommend AT&T for T-1 service.

  • AT&T Wireless. Phone trouble.

    Result: Dropped AT&T service and resolved not to use AT&T wireless again.

  • Tech Data. (Customer service, not tech support.)

    Result: Dropped Tech Data and resolved to always have multiple suppliers.

  • CA / ArcServe. Years of declining support, culminating in one bad incident.

    Result: Stopped selling ArcServe. So, apparently, did everyone else.

    Note: CA resurrected this product a couple of years ago. We're softening up to the idea, but we still have a shrink-wrapped NFR box from two years that we've never opened. Bad taste lingers.

  • Microsoft SBS2003 PSS Incident 2004.

    Result: Prayed that they would improve. Complained and escalated. Was promised improvement.

  • Microsoft SBS2003 PSS Incident 2005.

    Result: Prayed that they would improve. Worked "back channels" and begged for better support.

    Engaged in dialog re: improvements and recommendations. Received full court press to just shut up, put up, and be patient.

  • Netscreen. Emergency went from bad to worse.

    Result: Dropped product line. We now sell SonicWall.

    Note: I LOVE the Netscreen products. Spectacular. But with horrible support, we can't afford to sell them. Now Juniper. Haven't tested new support. Bad taste lingers.

  • Microsoft SBS2003 PSS Incident 2005.

    Result: Prayed that they would improve. Worked "back channels" and begged for better support.

  • Microsoft SBS2003 PSS Incident 2006.

    Result: Complained and listened to their false promises. Made financial arrangements with other technicians to help in emergencies.

  • Microsoft SBS2003 PSS Incident 2006.

    Result: Got pissed off. Began formulating alternatives.


How about the BEST support incidences ever?

Well, I have so many from HP that I can't count them. In the most recent incident, I got the absolute perfect technician and answer immediately. Literally zero minutes on hold. Record of good experiences: 95%.

We don't sell Dell, but every time we call Gold support we talk to a great, well-trained technician within five minutes. Record of good experiences: 90%.

SonicWall. They trip over themselves putting my customer first, then my company. Perfect. Exactly what we want. Record of good experiences: 100%.

When I get off the phone with these people, I want to write a letter to their boss and tell then what a great job they did. And sometimes I do that.


A few Notes:

1) The most recent incident is not the worst. By far. It just tipped me over because we've been begging for competent tech support for years and Microsoft just doesn't care. Absolutely nothing has changed.

2) In the case of every other top-ten worst experience ever, we stopped selling/using the product/service.

3) Microsoft's first and most persistent reaction is public relations: "Please give us time. You have to understand. We're doing everything we can. We care. We're working on it. Please use the system. Please give us feedback. Please please please. We promise we'll change."

And that all amounts to years and years of obfuscation and lies.

PSS for SBS2003 is worse today than it was a year ago.

After Cougar is introduced it will get even worse.

There is no competent first-line technical support for SBS2003.

The guys in Texas are superstars. But you have to go through the fourth level of hell to get to them. And at that point, you're likely to be cleaning up after the first-line support.

I'm not a lone voice here. Private communications have very consistent with my last two blog posts. One cheerleader for Microsoft and a large group of people who have come to similar conclusions but don't with to voice it publicly. And a huge group that seems to think that this is simply the way things are. It doesn't matter how horrible Microsoft's support is: where are you going to go?

Put your head in the sand if you want. No product can live when there's no real front line technical support. That's what killed ArcServe (since resurrected). To be honest, I think it played a big role in AT&T's long decline and demise. When SBC bought AT&T -- at one time the largest telephone system in the world -- there was nothing left but the name.


OK. I'm done now.

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