Automating Client/User Behavior

Google, iPhone, IT Culture, Shockey Monkey
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One of my greater joys in business over the past two years has been the development of our PSA. In the process of studying just how much we suck (and the extent) I’ve really gathered an alarming amount of data points that explain just where we suck but also the uniform way in which our client base is retarded. Naturally, it’s our fault.

Earlier today one of the kids from the Leesburg office drove down to frigid 60F Orlando and we took him out to lunch. We talked about some of the more advanced topics regarding ExchangeDefender. It’s so nice to see people interested in your work.

It’s also quite a pleasure to explain the actual meaning and implementation of the system and watch their dreams shatter in front of you. “Well, yes, that’s how we explain it. Here is what actually happens on the backend.” What can I say, my job is to deliver a message to destinations that are setup by a combo of a laid off IT helpdesk employee, part time lawyer and his wife, the disaccredited CPA. The miracles we perform to get mail to go from point A to point B deserve some sort of a sainthood.

So today we made some slight changes to the support system.

See if you can tell which one is for real.

This is the official business version:

Better Support Escalation

This dropdown allows you to select the service that you are requesting support for. This helps us route the request to the most qualified individual on the support team that can address your request quickly.service2

Note that when you select an item you will be presented with a checkbox to tell us if this is a service outage. If the outage affects the entire organization, and you check this box, we will escalate the request for free and bump you to the front of the queue.

Now, since I wrote the whole thing this afternoon, allow me to take you through the development process and the reality behind the sugarcoated marketing speak:

Business Problem Definition:

  1. These jackasses aren’t reading the documentation.
  2. Support team spends all day copying and pasting KB articles.
  3. People shouldn’t pay for urgent support if there is a system down issue. We aren’t going to waive charges for urgent support. Meet me half way!

Business Problem Analysis:

  1. Nobody reads our documentation.
  2. Nobody bothers to file support requests with enough detail, only bare minimum.
  3. Nobody reads anything we write or do.

Solution Matrix:

  1. How about we hide a setting for our literate partners that lets them get free support?
  2. What about embedding help right when they ask the question, maybe it temporarily distracts them and they forget what they wanted.
  3. Maybe we can route these requests better around the clock, skip the middle man.


Now, true: I wrote this to help my partners and make my staff a lot more efficient and provide more value along the way.

However: Things would cost so much less and perform so much better if we were not stuck in the baby sitting mode training people how to use the products they should have learned in less than 1 hour of video sessions.

This, IMHO, is what sucks about IT and what makes most people throw their hands up in frustration and they end up compromising for Google Gmail and the iPhone. Neither is a serious business solution, but serious business people are about money and efficiency – not about throwing money down the IT Strategic Initiative toilet, hoping to have something valuable at some upgrade cycle in the future.

Ballmer is under fire for some statements he made today. For what it’s worth, I defend the guy for being up front about the problem and what is going on. We can no longer afford little incremental fill-in-the-gap solutions. It’s all or nothing, black or white, people simply won’t put up with limitations in reliability. If they have to put up with limitations, they will go to the shiny crap or free crap – because let’s face it, if it’s all crap anyhow you may as well not pay for it and at least get some joy out of looking at it.

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