An Asus technician has stepped forward out the shadows to give us the 10 insider tips for getting through and getting better and faster tech support from the computer and computer parts maker. Some things just can’t be fixed though, but it’s at least to know the soul-crushing math they’re using to destroy the customer experience. Considering how bad their tech support is, you’re definitely going to need these tips…
Our tipster writes:
If you aren’t aware, Asus makes an estimated 1 in 3 computer main boards sold globally and in addition to their own brand of products also provide system boards to a number of major OEM builders such as HP/Compaq and Dell. In January, AsusTek split into three separate entities – Asus, which deals primarily with Asus-branded PCs and laptops including the wildly popular EEE PC, ‘Pegatron’, which handles the motherboard business (though we keep the Asus brand name on them), and ‘Unihan’, which handles many of the other non-PC related Asus product line. As a result, each entity was suddenly responsible for its own profitability. No biggie, right? Well, as most of your readers know, customer service and support play a key role in the buyer experience. Given that so many products are similar in specification and performance these days, often it’s the after-the-sale support that can mean the difference in long term repeat business and losing a customer.
Not long after the company split, management began obsessing over numbers, and how to make what is normally an accepted expense (customer support) profitable. It was determined that the new company, ‘Pegatron’, would charge the parent company (Asus) for each technical support phone call, email, or live chat session that was received and responded to. While I cannot attest to the actual dollar amount charged for each call, I do know that phone calls generate the most income, followed by live chats, then emails. Ok, you say, no big deal, how does that affect me? Well, that’s what I’m about to show you, with 10 steps anyone can take in an attempt to get the best possible support by circumnavigating the games played with customers to generate revenue.
1. If you need technical support for any Asus product CALL.
Do NOT send an email, and use the live support feature at your own risk. A single phone call generates more revenue for the company than a couple of Live Support sessions, and more revenue than half a dozen email responses. As a result, nearly ZERO emphasis is placed on answering them, and emails are often replied to with canned ‘cut and paste’ responses which may not be relevant to your case.
2. Best Times For Calling With Low Hold Time
When calling, there are times that give you the best chances to get through with a minimal hold time. Since the support center is based in the Eastern Time Zone, and the best time to call is before 12 noon EST. The very best days to call are Tuesday through Thursday. From Noon-6pm hold times can be somewhat lengthy, as by that time working hours are in play nationwide. At any given time there are only 8-10 staff to take phone calls (yes, we’re grossly understaffed), email queries and answer Live chats. The U.S. office supports all of North America including Canada as well as Western Europe. That translates into a very heavy call volume for a small amount of people.
3. We’re stressed, don’t take it personally
If the representative you speak to seems curt, ill tempered, or rude, it’s not on purpose, nor personally directed toward you. All support representatives are instructed to strive for taking 70 calls per day. When you factor in a lunch hour and 2 fifteen minute breaks it leaves 450 minutes in a day. For us to reach our goal, we must be off the phone with you in 6.42 minutes. We aren’t supposed to care that it’s the tenth time you’ve called us (which isn’t toll free), or that you can’t stay on long enough to accurately even describe your issue.
4. Can I take a message?
We have recently adopted ‘messaging’ in order to achieve an objective from management that all incoming calls be answered in 60 seconds or less. To that end, we have hired a few people from temp services to answer calls, and when we experience a heavy load, they take your name and number with the promise of a return call. While calls are returned, it may take hours, if not days to get a return call. This serves three hidden purposes. If we message your call, we get paid for taking it even though no support was rendered. When we call you back, we get paid again for making a call. And currently, management has contests running offering cash rewards for most calls handled by a person during the month. Guess what? If we take a message, call you back once or twice, or you yourself call back out of frustration, we may get paid 2 or 3 times before you can speak with someone, all in the name of bonus money.
5. Don’t get through? Call back in 10 minutes
If you do get ‘messaged’, you’re better off calling back in 10 or 15 minutes if you have the time. While messages should be returned within 2 hours, it’s often not the case, and generally messaging is done only long enough to clear the incoming call queue, so it’s unlikely you’d be messaged twice in that amount of time. (unless someone is intentionally messaging you, then calling back to generate more revenue and a chance at a nice cash bonus)
6. Write down your case number. Really.
When you FINALLY reach someone, you will likely be assigned a case number. This is a good thing, as it will document the nature of the call and enable someone qualified (hopefully, more on that later) to answer your questions. If you already have a case number, please state it when you first begin your conversation, it will give the technician more time to troubleshoot your problem.
7. It’s just like in a game, except not fun
There are 3 ‘levels’ of tech support. Level 1 technicians primarily answer the phones and generate case numbers. There isn’t much point in trying to go into detail about your problem, as most will have a better grasp of basket weaving than solving PC issues. They will most likely transfer you to our level 2 support, where the fun begins. Many of our representatives are competent enough to handle your questions, but if you EVER question the accuracy of the advice you are getting, you can request to be connected to the top tier of support (Level 3) at ANY time.
8. We have the long-term memory of a snail
The reason you may wish to ask for Level 2 or 3 support immediately is this: Pegatron/Asus offers zero informational training about Asus products – past, present, or future. Typically we are not aware that a new motherboard/router/PDA has hit the street until we start getting calls about it. There is no ‘informational meeting’, no product info cheat sheets, or anything of the sort offered to the support team. Normally, the more senior members are tech-oriented, and stay up to date from home, so your chances improve greatly of getting the help you need by asking for a higher tier. Sadly, even some Level 2 agents are lacking basic skills and cannot help you with BIOS settings, RAID setup, installation of an operating system and so forth, nor will they know offhand the specs of the latest and greatest boards.
9. There is no such thing as a ‘known issue’.
Every company that has every produced a physical product has occasionally put out a junk product. We are under direct orders not to confirm ANY problem as a ‘known issue’, EVER. It doesn’t matter if every single model ‘X’ PDA plays ‘Jingle Bells’ every time you turn it on, it’s not a ‘known’ issue and we will not admit to one. If you happen into one of these products that turns out to have ‘known issues’, calling tech support won’t get you anywhere. We will offer to exchange it for an identical product only, which is just as likely to have the same ‘nonexistent’ issue. Since Asus does not sell direct to the public, you won’t be getting a refund either. Sad, but true, so you may wish to browse a few forums and seek outside input before considering any purchase.
10. Merchant refunds and returns are your special friend
If you do have a problem with a new Asus product and are within the return or exchange window offered by your reseller (often 14 to 30 days), don’t waste your time calling us. Simply return the defective product for an exchange or refund. Generally speaking, returning a product to Asus (motherboards in particular), can mean a 2-3 week wait before you see your board returned to you. In addition, it’s likely a refurbished motherboard which likely underwent no extensive testing before being dropped into a Fed Ex box and sent back to you. There is a separate department on the repair floor to handle 2nd and 3rd time returns, and once you’ve reached that level, you r chances of getting a tested board improve marginally. However, these boards won’t be cleaned, and may have thermal paste, grease, smudges, fingerprints, etc on them. It’s no fun to invest $300 in a new top of the line board, only to have an issue with it and get one back that looks like Timmy kicked it down the street for half a mile before putting it in your box. Not fun.
If you do weave your way through the Asus maze and find a helpful soul on the other end of the phone, don’t bank on he or she being there if you need them in the future. We have experienced close to 100% turnover in the past year, and those who remain are constantly threatened, both verbally and via email (proof available upon request, Ben) that they will lose their jobs for failure to make objectives. Sad, yes, but painfully true.
Do you have any tips for dealing with Asus, or Asus tech support stories to share? Leave your thoughts in the comments.