The state of technical support from most major vendors these days is so abysmal that an actual good support experience is almost shockingly noteworthy. Businesses in general have begun to recognize that the grand support-offshoring experiment that started in the late 1990s has well and truly failed, but even before the trend really got underway, tech support was hardly a glamorous experience, either for the customer or the poor phone monkey stuffed into a call center and earning a hair above minimum wage.

The story is the same for customer-facing and internal help desks alike: no one likes calling them, and no one likes working them. It’s a common bit of conventional wisdom in alt.sysadmin.recovery (a USENET newsgroup often referred to by its anagrammatical name, “the Scary Devil Monastery,” likely due to the character of its regular denizens) that the average time it takes for a newly hired help desker to go from bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to suicidal and burnt-out is about 18 months; the job can be notoriously hard on the psyche and the soul. It’s the very definition of Sysiphean—no matter how many times you answer the customers’ questions, there will always be more customers.

Repetitive tasks with no relief can be psychologically stressful. This leads to a feeling of resentment on the part of a lot of helpdeskers, who can come to regard customers as unendingly, unerringly stupid; conversely, when confronted with a sighing, obviously-annoyed Nick Burns-ish creature groaning at them, the immediate response of most people is mistrust, reticence to comply with directions, and sometimes outright anger.

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via Ars Technica » Technology Lab