As many of you may know, my day job involves working in a technical support organization of a large company. As a result of knowing just how much that job can suck, I tend to be really nice to people on the other end of the phone when I call in for any kind of assistance anywhere. It’s the least I can do to make their day suck less.
I’ve worked in Technical Support almost 10 years now. In that time, I have supported a handful of products. Despite that, the basic job is the same: isolate the problem, work with the customer to correct their problem. If it is a bug, we work with the developers and QA folks, or a third party company, to resolve the problem, verify it is fixed, and deliver that fix to the customer, all while managing customer expectations. Not a glamorous job, but it pays the bills.
I was once told by an otherwise clueless manager at the Giant Lizard that the support organization is a lightning rod for the rest of the company. Any “highly charged” customer issue always come thru support in one fashion or another. Trust me, I have lived through my share of these “lightning strikes.”
I have recently also come to the conclusion that a support organization, at least in large companies, is basically the janitorial staff. When products are discontinued or otherwise left by the wayside because of the latest change in focus, it is the support team who is left to clean up the mess with the customers. The problem is the job requires several mops but we only have a single broom to work with, and that broom is being used by someone else most of the time.
The upshot of this arrangement is that, if you’re good at what you do, you tend to be fairly insulated from so-called “reductions in force.” I’ve seen a number of layoffs happen where I work and our group was spared each time–except one time where a single person was laid off. Even if a company decides they are no longer selling some product, there are usually support contracts on it that must be honored. Depending on how long those contracts are good for, you may still be cleaning up the mess months–or even years–later.
The problem is when a company makes a decision about products, it often impacts people in a very real way. Best case, the persons affected are re-deployed in a different product. Worst case, people lose their jobs. In my days in tech support, I have seen a lot of carnage caused by changes in company direction. Even though I’ve seen this movie more times than I care to, it doesn’t get any easier to watch. Even when you know it’s coming.
Oh well, back to my insomnia…