Shane BarnhillSaturday,23 November 2013

The Snap:

Hopefully, you followed along with Matt Healey’s “Adventures in Tech Support” this week. If not, then you should check out part 1part 2 and part 3 now. Matt had a difficult week with the technical support team at Snapfish, and he documented his chat transcripts with them in all their glory. While I was hoping that Matt’s issue would eventually get resolved, the series was gold in terms of pure entertainment value (sorry Matt).

The Download:

Anyway, since we’re documenting our conversations with tech support this week, I thought I would post one of my own. This time, I’m starring as the bad guy — a customer who convinces the tech support team that they should gamble with the stability of a system. The transcript below picks up after I had suggested a fix to a technical issue, even though I knew it would be a risky maneuver. I don’t code much anymore, but I still know enough to be dangerous, and so I was recommending an approach to a vendor’s support team:

from [name redacted] to Shane: Okay, we can give it a shot, it looks like it will take 150 in the setting…but our inner conscience is telling us it might be dangerous. ha

from [name redacted] to ShaneAre you willing to try it? Knowing that the consequences might freeze up the system or something and we will have to take a different approach?

from Shane Barnhill to [name redacted]: LET’S GET NUTS! 

from [name redacted] to Shane: um. alright

from [name redacted] to Shane: Just updated the string to 150, let’s see if this works. 

Unlike Matt’s adventures with tech support, I wasn’t dealing with an unhelpful support team. In fact, the representative from this help desk was willing to go off script by testing out an usual and risky fix to the issue that I was reporting. The key words are “off script.” Going off script and taking risks aren’t behaviors that you normally expect from support teams, but they’re what real, trusted partners do.

I often joke that when a problem with an uncertain solution comes up, that “We’ll do it live!” — borrowing a phrase from an epic rant by Bill O’Reilly — in order to take calculated risks to fix the issue . The same thing is true about testing new ideas when you don’t have enough data to be sure of the possible outcomes. I prefer Facebook’s “Move Fast and Break Things” philosophy to the inertia that strikes when uncertainty and risk intolerance prevent us from taking action.

I’m sure Matt would have been more satisfied if Snapfish’s support team had gone off script to compress the time that it took for him to receive a final outcome to his issue. He wouldn’t have been happy, of course (sorry for spoiling part 3), but he would’ve wasted less time seeking a solution. On the contrary, the support team that was assisting me embraced the unknown and helped resolve an issue that could have dragged on for days.

Sometimes, “done is better than perfect.” Time is valuable. If failure won’t break your business, then consider an off-script solution every now and then.

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Hat Tips:

The Verge, YouTube, Image Credit: Flickr

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