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Tackling Tech Support Bullies

We're all familiar with internet Trolls, right? Of course. Otherwise Reddit wouldn't exist. Well, there's this new type of Troll and it's called a Tech Support Bully, or TSB. Similar to a Troll, but not so much under the bridge type or on Reddit type. It's more like IN YOUR FACE type.

Sometimes I wonder how it's possible to forget that the person you just called for help is actually a person too. A human. You contacted a HUMAN for help?!? OMG. Yes, I want to help you, even if you're a TSB. The quicker you come out from under the bridge, the quicker we can get the problem solved. Tech Support Bullies spend more time being mean to me on the call than they do trying to solve the problem. How in the world does that help?

(Clarification: When I say US and WE, I mean me and my team. Or I could mean Linux support pros in general... Apply it where you want, but I'm just telling you how it is.)

How it Affects Us - Emotionally and Physically

TSBs are exhausting. We do everything in our power to get things fixed, but when there are software issues that are much deeper than we can diagnose right away, we have to spend hours researching, trying to recreate, and prep a valid response or a backup plan. When we know it's going to take a while, we update you letting you know it will take a while and be real with you. When you're used to doing 8-15 tickets per hour, then you get stuck on one for 3 hours, it's actually physically exhausting. Your neck, shoulders, chest tension, all of that weirdness that comes with sitting for long periods of time can dehabilitate you for a week if you let it. Sometimes, we have to take off our headsets and just breathe deep for a minute. Some of us walk it off. I personally have cried it off in a stairwell or two. I'm not ashamed to admit it- Anymore...

Be a Human

Support Pros: Don't be afraid to pull the human card and say 'I understand how you feel, I've been in a similar situation' Or let them know a customer you've dealt with has. Empathy can turn things around quickly, but the positive outcome is what they need to hear the loudest. What are you going to do to fix it? Let them think they are right in what they are feeling, because they are, but also educate them that the best way to get this resolved faster is by sticking to the path toward solution. Last, try to minimize the situation for the user. The loudest ones usually thing the problem is bigger than it is and the all of a sudden the sky is falling. For some people it is, but even if it is, that worry and speculation does nothing to help solve the case. Assure the user that it isn't a widespread issue and that you're confident in the fix you provide. If you aren't confident, don't send the fix. That always encourages more negativity if you're wrong or unsure.

Trolls: (you know who you are) is keep the insults to a minimum about the company or product, because although it's not directed at the person, it's still very intense for a human to deal with. TSBs can provide feedback at the end  through the appropriate channels. Companies send out surveys for a reason. Not only will you get your support case handled faster, but you can actually make a difference by sending it through the appropriate channel. The person who looks at those surveys actually uses that information to make change.

If you're a TSB reading this and you bully a tech support rep, just know that they have to move onto the next ticket with it weighing on their shoulders for the rest of the day. That negativity is contagious and can ruin someone's day and affect their attitude on future support tickets.

Turning the support case around with empathy and positivity as quickly as possible is the best scenario for everyone. Letting the person continue to vent or insult you is not. Preventative measures are a whole different topic, but tackling current bullies is possible and we can all embrace it if we try. Empathize, minimize and Stay positive! You are one more step toward customer support happiness if you do!