IT gets a taste of the other side of tech support

In search of a simple service, a techie is frustrated personally and professionally by bad web work

IT gets a taste of the other side of tech support
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Working in IT, I can be critical of sloppy work that I find online. I don’t know about you, but as a tech who’s aware of what’s involved on the back end, it’s almost harder to stomach the errors as a customer. Case in point: A recent experience using an online service scheduler for a large auto company.

I had a simple request: My car needed service. At first, I phoned the vendor to set up an appointment and worked my way through push button hell. After a long time on hold, I reached a recording: “Sorry, but I am away from my phone, and if you leave a message I will get back to you in the next 24 hours.” Wanting to secure a time slot, I decided to try plan B: online scheduling.

I headed to the dealer’s site and easily located the scheduler service button. However, a floating online help “live chat” popup kept enticing me to click it. I did so and entered my preferred scheduling time slot. After several minutes, the popup showed a message that was almost identical to the recorded voicemail greeting: “Sorry, but I am away from my desk, and if you leave a message I will get back to you in the next 24 hours.”

This was becoming funny. At least that’s what I told myself to keep the frustration at bay.

I exited that popup and proceeded to fill out the online form to register for an appointment 10 days in the future. I checked the “contact me by email” box and clicked the Submit button. It seemed like I was set to go.

An hour later, I got a call from the company’s web admin (guess he doesn't use email) telling me there was an error with scheduling and he would connect me by phone to the service department. I was on hold for a few minutes when a person picked up and asked if she could help.

Apparently, none of the information I’d entered online had been forwarded. I told her about my contact with the online scheduler and the web admin. She put me on hold while she checked the calendar. In case you're keeping track at home, this was now my fourth attempt at making an appointment.

She returned and told me the earliest slot she had for that day was 2.5 hours later than my requested time. It wasn’t what I wanted, but I could make it work, so I agreed to it.

By the end, I had worked with three UIs and two people before I could land an appointment at a time that wasn't my initial preference. The dealer’s scheduling system was an empty suit, and the bulk of my input and effort was for naught.

Moral: If you have a website, make sure it’s tied to your live data. If there's an error with the selected scheduled time, immediately notify the customer before the Submit button becomes active. And equip your scheduling tech to a PC or phone app that syncs with your live data. Offering services that don’t work is not service.

Overall, it wasn’t an encouraging experience, but maybe it’s good for us who work in IT to sit on the other side once in a while and be reminded of what not to do.