Wow, I read this blog post (via FSJ, with whom I have yet to break up) about a woman’s iPhone-Genius Bar experience and found myself experiencing wide range of emoticons. I mean emotions. It’s off-topic, but then again, what topic do I usually follow?
Read the summary FSJ gives or the full post, then come back and share your thoughts. I’m torn.
Early in my career at Oracle, during my first tour, I worked in PC/Server support. This was in the early days of the Interweb, and most of the PC support involved Windows 95 and NT. So, I feel the pain of anyone who has ever had to support users. I ran into so many seemingly obvious problems that I quickly developed a theory:
Assume people know nothing about computers, and you will be able to fix problems much faster by eliminating easy stuff.
For the most part, people admit they know nothing, which is why they call for help, and generally, it’s the somewhat savvy people that have the challenging problems. Anyway, supporting computers is a very stressful and mostly thankless job. When people want support, they are stressed and frustrated, and the support person becomes the human object of these negative feelings.
The takeaway here is that computers are hard. People are hard on support people. From the account given, it sounds like the Genius tried all the tricks he had in his (limited) bag to help. He failed to follow the cardinal rule: Assume people know nothing about computers.
Throw out the snarky commentary, and essentially, this woman was treated well. She had to wait, and they didn’t fix her issue. But the guy tried, so why dump on him?
Computers and technology in general should be easier. As more people use technology, it should get easier, not harder. From what I can see, people are savvier than they were when I was in support, but it’s a chicken/egg problem. Did people get savvy because the technology was easier, or did they just use it enough to figure out how to work around the issues?
Being that this is my business, I understand user frustration. After my tour in support, I went into the field in consulting and sat with users. The things people do with your technology are amazing. Is that your fault for bad design, or their fault for being noobs?
Anyway, I don’t feel like I can totally flame this woman, despite her blatant inability to RTFM and failure to use spell check (maybe she has the lolcat dictonary installed), or even be a little initiated with her device. In a perfect world, technology wouldn’t need a manual at all.
And don’t get me started on support. Because support is such a tough job, it’s hard to get good, experienced advice. I’ve taken to asking for a Level 2 tech at the beginning of calls, to ensure that I am not forced to reboot or power cycle while the support person scrolls through the decision tree, asking me leading questions about other vendor’s products, i.e. the time-honored, this isn’t our problem excuse. So, anytime you need to get support, you’re frustrated from the get-go.
Frustration will lead people to do crazy things. Her frustration led the Genius to try everything he could think of, and he probably went home and cried. Or he’s crying now after her online flame-fest.
What do you think? Her comments are out of control with a mix of hate mail and support. Weird polarizing story. I’m leaning toward the geek side, not surprisingly.