Monday, June 28, 2010

When customer service...isn't

(The following article is one in a series that I wrote for a distance learning-related blog I used to run. For posterity's sake, I am reposting it -and others- here)

Recently, I decided that it was time to upgrade the software that powers my codec (the piece of equipment that allows video conferencing to happen). Generally, I am from the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" school of thought, especially when it comes to technology that is already behaving itself. That day, however, I let my imagination get the best of me.

I had sent an email to the company that oversees our maintenance agreement on the video systems, asking him to send me the keys for the latest version of software. I let him know that I was currently sitting on version F2.3 (we have Tandberg 6000 MXPs), and he let me know that he'd get the keys from Tandberg to shoot us up to F6.3.

Sure enough, I get the software keys, download the software, connect my computer to the codec and upload….

Now, I should not have started this at 3:30 in the afternoon, I know. But, I did, and at 4:05, while the system was still upgrading, I decided things were fine and that I would head to the house for the evening and see how things went after I got back in the next morning. Disaster ensued on several levels. The two main areas focused on the touch panel and connectivity to the outside world.

Starting with connectivity, my system was reporting that it could not see the gatekeeper in St. Louis, where our video traffic goes. The weird thing was that I could actually still make calls. The gatekeeper host told me that they could not see EITHER of our video systems (I had only upgraded one, for fear of something going wrong). After a couple hours of troubleshooting, the local telephone company was called in, and sure enough, we had actual line problems not related whatsoever to the upgrade. Once that problem was fixed, I moved on to the touch panel.

The touch panel has a handy little button that lets the user select the destination. The problem I was having went something like this: Touch "Make a Call" which would send the touch panel screen into a frenzy, ultimately making a "call connected" status active, yet not actually calling anyone. Now, normally, after the user touches the green button, they have to select the destination site or choose to manually dial an IP address. The system was not letting me get that far. Then, I would press the now active "disconnect" button, though we were not actually connected, and try again. After the third time, I decided that what I needed to do was contact our support folks. Here is where customer service breaks down.

After a few hours, I receive a message from tech support stating that we cannot just simply upgrade from F2.3 to F6.3. The codec must be upgraded to F3.5 and then THAT can be upgraded to F6.3. At this time, I would like to refer you back to my earlier statement: "I let him know I was currently sitting on version F2.3…" He KNEW my codec was not at the "3.5 pitstop" (his words), yet he only sent me the "super-jump" key to the latest software.

My job should not require me to know the various upgrade paths for codec software. That is why we have tech support to begin with. When I call tech support, no matter what the product, I expect the service personnel to PAY ATTENTION before offering a "solution" to its customers. Ultimately, I had to download and "downgrade" to F2.3, which is the version of software currently in place on my codec. Will I get the F3.5 and install it, then move to 6.3? Only if someone sells me on a series of compelling reasons to make the move. Yes, 6.3 supposedly ties into Microsoft's Office Communications Suite (or whatever it's called), but we do not have that here yet, and the video system works just fine as it is.

It ain't broke, so I ain't fixin' it.

No comments:

Post a Comment