Employee empowerment

One of my hobby websites recently got hacked, which caused a bigger problem on my web hosting account. It happens. It’s fixed now, but the incredible frustration that came from it wasn’t caused by the hack itself, but by the bad "technical support" people.

Employee empowerment | DaveTavres.comI’m very aware of businesses trying to keep costs down so they can increase profits and put money back into the business for further growth. BUT, at what cost? It’s *VERY* unlikely that I’ll continue to recommend my current web host because of the run-around I had to work through recently.

I worked tech support MANY years ago, when call queues and ticket counts weren’t as important as they are today. Thankfully in the early 1990s, I had great teachers, trainers, and co-workers who worked pretty well as a team. Sure, even I got cocky after hearing the exact same calls over and over again, and I didn’t always listen to the customer. But, the early 90s was a different time. I had tons of training, helping people using Windows 3.1, who were trying to use the internet. I’m confident in saying that I had more knowledge and training about Windows and internet technology than 99% of the customers who called in. Today though, there are a lot of people smarter than first-tier tech support.

I think the biggest lesson any business / leadership / management can learn is to empower their employees. That means, let them take the time (reasonable time) to work through a problem. Or, if they aren’t completely confident in their solution, let them escalate it BEFORE the customer becomes irate, or just ditches the product / service. Yes, ticket analytics are important, but NOT more important than customer service. Period.

A2Hosting | DaveTavres.comA2Hosting caused me, literally, hours of frustration and anxiety, as I tried to figure out the solution to the problem, simply because the first several "techs" wouldn’t let go of a wrong premise – even when I told them they were wrong, and most likely BECAUSE I told them they were wrong, as well as a probable push by management to get tickets closed quickly.

Luckily, after several tickets and phone calls, and hours and hours of waiting, I finally asked that the ticket be escalated. And guess what… THAT person figured out the issue within MINUTES. Problem solved. I’m fairly sure that Ross took the time to READ what I had written before replying. And thankfully, he also had the knowledge and experience to figure out what was wrong.

I’ll concede that it does take more than just employee empowerment to give good customer service – it takes good management (which is more often the problem in the first place.) It also takes committed employees. If someone doesn’t care about their job, it doesn’t matter how much training and power they have, they’ll still give bad customer service. Which is why it’s just as important to hire AND FIRE well. Listen to this story from NPR about Zappos.

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