Working in tech support is a strange job. You alternate between being the savior and the scourge of everyone you meet. One day, you get praised for showing someone how to easily access their files or free up some extra hard drive space. The next, you get screamed at for being part of some kind of imaginary tech illuminati hell-bent on ruining the world for everyone.
While it lacks the face-to-face interactions (and horrors) that working in retail affords, here’s a look at some of the things you’re forced to deal with when you’ve got a headset strapped on and those calls about lost photos, frozen screens, and vague claims that “it just doesn’t work” start rolling in:
The constant arguing.
Arguments are inevitable when even the simplest step-by-step task is met with extreme resistance. These people can’t be this contrarian in all their daily interactions, right? Imagine being a grocery store clerk and having someone say, “No, condiments are NOT in aisle 9!” when you know they are. That’s the life of tech support — and the culture seems programmed to be annoyed by you, which makes it all doubly hard.
These reactionary types are diagnosed as having PEBKAC — an irritated tech support worker’s acronym that means ‘Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair.’ When someone has PEBKAC, you know you’ll be stuck on the same call for quite awhile.
The ridiculous requests.
When calling in for tech support, it seems like a no-brainer to be in front of your computer. Yet, a surprising number of people seem to call from literally anywhere else — the store, soccer practice, the line at a movie theater. As one might expect, these people seem to have the most vague complaints about their computers — so naturally they demanded the most specific and immediate resolutions.
Even while driving. Especially while driving.
Every time this happens, it’s easy to imagine these people showing up at a mechanic without their car. “It’s making a weird sound!” they might yell, while offering no further details. Yet, no matter how hard you attempt to explain the importance of being in front of their computer while trying to fix it, these customers remain completely unconvinced.
These calls are very likely to end in caller anger — typically after a few choice expletives.
The needy customers.
Even though you only know them by their voice, it’s a fact that you become familiar with certain callers. Some even phone in with such regularity that if they don’t call, you start to wonder if they’re okay. A nice perk of the high maintenance customer is that most of their issues are easily resolved. The downside is that they always expect you to go above and beyond the call of duty.
As you might expect with a ‘standing appointment’ crowd, they regularly push the protocol. These are the types of customers who approached tech support like Morpheus approached the rules of the matrix. They know which rules can be bent, and more importantly, know which rules can be broken — and boy, do they ever exploit those.
The overwhelming paranoia.
This one may vary depending on the type of tech support offered, but when you’re dealing with basic security software, you can expect some interesting input from customers. The word ‘input’ is carefully chosen, by the way, because you get a substantial amount of letters (both hand-written and typed out) from people who fear some kind of Orwellian overlord reading about their computer problems.
To these tech truthers, a minor lag in performance or some kind of software incompatibility is grounds to formulate an Alex Jones-grade conspiracy theory. There’s also a lesser tier to this paranoia crowd comprised of people who insist their computer is infected with some sort of virus. They’re so insistent on it that they’ll sometimes keep reps on the phone for hours after closing.
If you can’t help, you’ll be angrily accused of being unwilling and the customer will demand to speak with a manager. You might be surprised to learn how apologetic these customers can be after it’s explained that the manager, along with literally everyone else in the office, left hours ago. (Hint: not at all apologetic). THE UPSIDE…
Your own computer is optimized beyond belief.
For all the chaos and conspiracy-minded individuals you’re forced to deal with, there is one upside to the whole ordeal: free software. Not just from the company you work for, either, but any sort of cross-company partnerships that are made to sell pre-packaged bundles are often up for grabs, as well. Add the know-how you acquire working at a job like this, your own computer soon becomes a souped-up, impenetrable fortress.
Word of warning: You’d be wise to keep this information to yourself — unless you want to end up spending all your spare time troubleshooting problems with every computer owned by friends, family, acquaintances, neighbors, the mailman, and co-workers.
No one who works in tech support wants to be bothered in their off time. Don’t be one of those people.