Worldwide tech support: local IT flavor flavored with its English version
Worldwide tech support
While working in technical support of one of the smallest domestic software companies, I have accumulated a lot of impressions from communicating with a wide variety of people of many nationalities living in a wide variety of countries. But we will not talk about the banal division into good and bad, or smart and stupid, but about those impressions that these people leave behind, shaping the image of both the country as a whole and its IT industry in particular. I will consider both from the point of view of using the main language of international communications with concomitant manners, and from a purely professional approach to the field of IT.
Of course, one can argue that this division is such, but one cannot deny such a thing as national color, just like the fact that it leaves its mark on all spheres of human life.
Our product has gained its share of popularity and is sold worldwide. Moreover, this is not marketing, but the harsh truth - a person from any country can call the technical support line, and to follow the movement of the business day around the globe, we have three offices open around the world to provide round-the-clock service. One office is located in the states, the other in Australia and the third, the largest in all respects, here in Russia, in the glorious city on the Neva, where I have to work. Behind my back about 8 years of diverse admin practice and I work on the support line of English-speaking clients. Well and of course I don’t give offense as a native language, since people work in our office for whom Russian is not native.
During one shift, each engineer lays down, on average, up to 10 calls with a duration of 5 minutes to two hours each and writing three dozen letters in response to requests received by mail. Such a flow of customers will allow you to quickly form your own attitude to customers from different countries. Below I will describe a certain average value collected from many of our engineers. If a client from a very distant country calls us to change our office, and his problem is not critical for business processes or he does not have the required level of licensing, we transfer his case to the office closest to his time zone for the benefit of all. And for this we need to find out what time zone it is in. One client’s question posed a serious dead end and he answered something like this - you know, I'm on a yacht traveling around the world now, so I'm not quite sure what time zone we will be in tomorrow, but I will be in the Hawaiian Islands for the next three hours. This is how some system administrators work.
It’s also worth saying that our technical support is not a call center, as it usually seems to people where cute girls with big eyes are sitting, reading on a piece of paper the answers they came up with for standard questions. Rather, we have girls with big eyes, but any of them has the knowledge of a good admin and speaks a couple of languages, i.e. the employees of our department are harsh engineers who know not only their area of responsibility, but also many related ones. Since 99% of our work is in contact with diverse servers and services, any engineer every day encounters domains, mailers, virtual machines, various storeys, databases, tape drives, and the list goes on for a very long time, but not about that.
So, mainly IT specialists and their bosses call us, and they call from many different countries.
They call from everywhere, without exaggeration. Probably only from Russia have not called yet.
It so happened that these comrades called us before anyone else. The lion's share of calls comes from an office in Sydney, but we also get it. You probably heard a lot of jokes about Indian call centers, about insane operators, or just watched the great Outsourced series. So, you know - this is exactly the way it is, or even much worse.
If you can still completely ignore absolute illiteracy, but the impenetrable wall of your own invented reality, coupled with a murderous accent, nullifies all desire to communicate with these comrades.
Less well-known feature can also add pleasure - Indians are completely unable to make decisions and bear responsibility. No way and never. If he was planted to press two buttons, he only knows which mouse button to press them. Nothing behind these buttons, nor what they do - he is not interested. These are the problems of others. He is a Jedi master of two buttons, and the rest is at least burning. This results in the inability to conduct a meaningful dialogue, because the interlocutor cannot answer basic questions. And when you want to say “yes” or “no” to the proposal to conduct a test, change settings or a similar trifle, falls into a stupor and begins to assemble a conference with his boss, that with his own, and sometimes it seems that this can go on forever. In my experience, such conferences have repeatedly occurred with the number of participants about 10, and you yourself could just hang up. At some point, they switch to their language and everything is fine with them. Why bother them?
Also among them is a common focus known as a damaged phone. Dear Rajesh works at the center of a certain support, but then a vile client interrupts his afternoon nap by demanding to explain one or another function of our product, which Rajesh supposedly supports, because his company is our partner with an appropriate level of certification. Of course, he cannot answer anything intelligible and does a simple trick - asks his client to wait, calls us and begins to ask for elementary truths, simultaneously transmitting the received information to his client and voicing his questions. The idiocy of the situation rolls over, but you have to endure.
The apogee, proving the incapacity of a single client from India, happened due to the excellent VMware product, which, horrifiedly, has the functionality for creating snapshots and is managed, as you might guess, through the Snapshot Manager window. A banal request was voiced to open this ill-fated window and check for snapshots. The request was followed by a painfully slurred mumble, a voiceover began to call someone, then someone else, connected several people to the call and went into himself. At this time, despite their incomprehensible language, notes of scandal and panic began to appear in their dialogue, and after aimlessly spent 10 minutes the client asked the question: dear sir, do you happen to know who the snapshot manager is in our company?
As they say - a curtain.
The lion's share of calls from this region comes from Turks and Arabs. Also very peculiar customers. Firstly, you never know who will be on that end of the wire, because according to our feelings, the principle of Russian roulette is strictly observed in Arabic IT. You can talk with a very competent hired specialist from any country in the world, but, unfortunately, they all occupy the top positions and often have to communicate with very, very poor personnel from the bottom. And then the top. All admin of a monstrous domain structure may not know the commonplace things like an IP controller. Quite quickly, we developed a formula for ourselves that describes the essence of Arabic IT in one phrase: Dear Brothers; AlSalamo Alaikom. I don't understand anything from your message, so please connect and perform all needed actions under my vision. The phrase is not invented, and can be found in every third letter. You can get it even at the request to start ping. And you have to see her much more often than you would like.
A unique feature of this region was also noticed. Apparently from an overabundance of money, almost all customers buy the most sophisticated version of the license and this gives them a sense of permissiveness. In our practice, there was a client who, on the proposal to conduct several tests to identify the problem, answered that he has, you see, an Enterprise-VIP-plus-exclusive license and will not do anything and generally does not have time for “testing and playing” , so be so kind as to take it out and make a decision right now, otherwise he will complain. I remember the scandal with this comrade was wonderful, after several engineers refused to work with him.
And on the sweet side - many Arabs are panicky afraid when a woman answers them. At best, they hang up, at worst they begin to hysterically demand a male engineer, explaining that a woman cannot be an engineer and speaks with him, well, at best, a secretary, and he is too busy to spend time on it. It is extremely amusing to our lovely ladies and they never switch the call, but continue communication until they satisfy their feminist happiness.
Yes, we also do not like them, so we opened a local support office. Joke. In fact, Americans are also specific in communication due to the difference in mentality.
The first thing that struck me and even struck me was that the Americans turned to support for any reason. Literally any.
A short list of probably the most frequent requests:
- I read in the documentation what to do like this. Do you confirm this?
“I set up your product, it works great, but could you please connect and check that this is indeed so.”
- I have such a strange situation and I'm not sure what I should do: left-click or right-click # Personally answered this question several times #?
Those. they need control and confirmation on any occasion. This does not mean that they are stupid or something like that. Almost always, everything was done absolutely right, but if a tech support engineer tells them this, then there will be no limit. He will crumble in thanks and will be happy as a schoolboy in a bigmachny.
Later, due to communication with colleagues from the states, it turned out that the reason lies in the fundamental difference between our patterns of consumption of services and goods. You can understand the difference in ten seconds by remembering Zadornov and his joke about how our tourists and American tourists use the pool, and then accept that this is not a joke - and at once many things become much clearer.
In two words - big children. It seems that they themselves can and know everything, but they live as if in a fictional ideal world, and we must look carefully so that our eyes are not gouged out by chance.
But if there was a feeling that everything was rosy and fun, then here is a big tarry cart.
It’s considered absolutely normal to call the support with the phrase a la “I don’t understand this function, I know that it is described in the documentation, but I don’t want to read it, so I call technical support and I want you to explain it to me. And I won’t read anything, I specifically called you and I bought support, so I’m ready to listen.
Having boiled with righteous anger and exhaling, you start insinuating a voice to inform you that sir, this is all cool, of course, but this can not be explained without pictures. And then in response to a headshot: yes, I understand, so I opened an article with pictures and you can finally begin to explain.
Everyone comes out of this situation differently. My recipe is to open the same article and start reading it in the most tedious voice from the first sentence. The client is happy, the management is happy, the time of qualified personnel has been flushed down the toilet, but we are paid well for this.
Another area where Americans are ahead of the rest is security. 8 out of 10 clients who do not give control of the mouse during a remote session are in the states. It is very rare when you come across really serious organizations like government or, worse, military. Basically, these are illiterate admins with a watchman complex, but they very quickly get tired of flipping log files two lines up, and now return 10 down, and now to the very end ...
By the way, with the military department was a funny (for us) case. When you work with their applications, it’s already a small feat to agree on a remote session, because suddenly you will see terribly secret information there, and you can not even stutter about requesting log files. But once pressed and without logs the problem was not solved. The explanation of this fact itself took several days with many calls, conferences and approvals. As a result, the log file would be printed, read by a specially trained brave American warrior and sent to us in the form of scanned pdf on ~ 300 sheets.
Irish and Scots
Perhaps it would be more competent to divide them into two separate groups, but they are united by one wonderful feature, before which all the others fade - their version of the English language.
The Irish accent with their phrases and expressions brings to a hypnotic state. The feeling does not leave that your interlocutor is sitting in a pub, wants to fill your face, then drink another pint of Guinness and you become best friends with him. And with what feeling of joy in their voice they say all this. Sit straight and listen. Therefore, many engineers are actually hunting for applications from their “favorites”. There were even cases of calls from bars to tune in to one wave. And they say that absolutely everyone was happy. To complain to the Irishman about our rotten Guinness and to praise them, which I had to try during a transplant at London airport, oh, it's worth living for such emotions.
Well, and about the Scottish version of English, the British themselves joke enough. Who knows, eleven;) Often they are very difficult to understand, and sometimes simply impossible. After asking the client’s name for the third time, an engineer who had lived in America for several years and had excellent knowledge of English heard the answer - Do you speak English? I understand that it’s considered normal in America to distort our heritage, but learn at least the alphabet.
They are cute guys, and some even try to speak slower, saying each word, but different things happen.
Favorite clients of our engineers burdened with linguistic education. Yes, and they just like everyone without exception. They do not stand out in anything special in terms of IT, but their excellent pronunciation and seasoned manners are always restrained, professional, never crush if you say something wrong and most likely will very gently correct and tell. Many have noticed sports interest in helping to learn the language. Therefore, personally, I never felt shy to ask things that were not obvious to me or to find out what they never write in textbooks. So you know when to use I beg your pardon.
They also do not like to sit in oppressive silence and are the first to start a conversation while something is rebooting somewhere. You can easily manage to discuss the latest news and, of course, the weather. No one discusses the weather like the inhabitants of foggy Albion.
O beautiful inhabitants of the banks of the Seine and idly staggering under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. What are you dreamers. If somewhere there is a button or jackdaw, then it must be pressed. And it’s even better to set such a combination so that no one would guess what he wanted to do and what he got in the end. Maybe croissants and baguettes are to blame for this craving for the unknown? Who would know, but the fact is a fact - the French will press and push on everything that is pushing and crushing, even if it makes no sense and he has no idea what he is doing. Apparently the process itself is high. Well, what are we? We are trying to understand what he wanted, what he received and how to combine what he wanted with what he had.
And it is worth making a reference to the last section about clients from the east. The population of modern France is already too far removed from European roots, so you can often hear hysterical screeching at the other end of the wire if the girl picks up the phone.
All as one excellent specialists. All applications are only in the case and only if the manual has been read, all articles from the CV have been studied. The only thing they don’t do is not looking for an answer on Google. But sometimes they carry out such a stunning study of the problem that it remains only to indicate the right way to search for an answer or just to suggest a missed option. The last of the Germans is incredibly upsetting, and they may even apologize for disturbing the engineers, and not finding the obvious solution themselves. In a word, working with them is a pleasure.
Calls from Germany are especially fond of taking novice engineers with weak English, because German pronunciation is very similar to ours and it is much easier to understand them any carrier, not to mention those for whom English is not native. Of course, we have separate German-speaking guys, but often customers ask us not to switch to them, because although practice your English. And the wolves are full - and the sheep are safe.
And in Germany, a small business server is extremely popular. Apparently, German practicality is affecting, but this monster of Dr. Frankenstein gives us a lot of headache.
I must make a reservation right away that we are talking about South Africa, and not about northern, because Egypt, Libya, Algeria can be safely attributed to the paragraph about the Arabs.
First, yes, there is electricity and computers. And I must say that South Africa in this regard is a very developed country. In neighboring regions, things are worse, but not as much as we used to think. We have a fairly large number of incoming calls from customers from this part of the world and it is quite pleasant to work with them. The population of the country is mixed and this gave rise to a completely unique subspecies of English. Those engineers who like to take calls from England, practically can not communicate with customers from South Africa. As one philologist said: the grammar was crushed and everything that was more difficult than a fifth-grade textbook was thrown out of it. But all the rest is sheer happiness - you can sculpt phrases with a simple set of words and in 95% of cases you will be understood in the right way. And if they don’t understand, they will politely ask again.
Well, of course, there are problems that can happen only on this continent. Once, for a very long time, we were looking for the reason for the disconnection between the servers in some nature reserve, and the server ones were communicating with each other via a laser. Within a week, everything that could be checked and configured was checked, rechecked and configured from scratch. Nothing helped, the link still fell in completely unpredictable moments. Everything was decided in the same miraculous way as it broke: the engineer noticed that his two favorite giraffes had grown up and when they went to the watering hole, they passed clearly through the laser line. So we had the syndrome of Julia and Bob.
For myself, I called them from the country of eternal panic and hysteria.
Whatever happens, everything needs to be decided urgently, on the run and preferably yesterday. They are not at all embarrassed by calls at 4 nights local time. They even insist: as soon as you have a result, immediately call me on your cell phone, I will sleep and wait. It is significant that you can not call. Due to the workload, you don’t even have to call for a day or two and then he will call you back and politely ask why his application has been suspended. But at the first moment there will certainly be a panic no worse than in a fire.
And from the point of view of the language, the multinationality of the country is very indicative - no matter how you distort words, how much you get confused in grammar, they will say something encouraging and will help you hard to build a phrase.
Quite difficult for communication clients. Complex because of some internal features of the country, and not because of other factors. Perhaps this is why 95% of calls from Japan come through service companies with which they have a support contract and non-Japanese always call from there. Pretty quickly you start to know them all by name, because there are few service offices, they have many customers, and units trust in contact with the outside world.
The main difficulty in communicating with engineers from Japan is a strange, from our point of view, statement of thoughts in writing. Approximately like Pavlov’s dog: his eyes seem to be smart, but he can’t say anything. The standard correspondence algorithm looks something like this: an application with a description of the problem arrives, the application is read, re-read, flipped, read again and it seems like a set of words begins to make sense. But we are professionals, we need to understand exactly where it hurts and how to cure it, so we write a response letter: dear Kushigawa-san, in your letter you write this and this in order to eliminate any possible misunderstandings, please clarify whether it’s true we understand your problem by interpreting it so and so. Dear Kushigawa-san, with the calmness characteristic of samurai, writes in response that, they say, I ask you to sorry, but, unfortunately,
Sometimes these correspondence is delayed, but they are always conducted in an extremely polite tone, and to the end.
And for sweet - native penates.
The world stronghold of Hyper-V, so to speak. I can declare with all responsibility that the nowhere else in the world is the Microsoft hypervisor more widely distributed than the VMware product, as in the former union. Apparently, its shareware is affecting. This is neither good nor bad, it is just an observation.
I can also say with all responsibility that our IT is the most professional in comparison with the rest of the world. The most intricate applications and complex problems come precisely from compatriots. Apparently, this is affected by the lack of a habit of immediately running into tech support until all of Google, spiceworks and specialized forums have been studied.
In our country, there is absolutely no strict separation of duties, as it is in the states or Europe. I never had to listen to the howling voices during a conference when they try to shout at each other the admin at home, the admin by mail, the head of the department and what the hell is that administrator of that dust piece of iron in the corner. Each of our sysadmins is a universal combat unit that knows the answer to any question in any part, even the most complex infrastructure. Exceptions exist only in the largest organizations, but even there the problem is not solved by creating a teleconference for five people, but by shouting over the shoulder of the right person. Frankly, I personally work in such an atmosphere is very pleasant and easy.
On the other hand, there is an unpleasant feature for many engineers to work in their native language - if you start to swim on some tricky questions, moreover, not directly related to our software, just try not to write off the lack of an answer to a language misunderstanding. And at this moment, a simply disgusting feature of some of our clients is manifested - they begin to scold the engineer, accusing him of all mortal sins, demanding a manager and a change of engineer working on the application. While, when communicating with any English-speaking client, please wait a minute to clarify the information, they only get approval, because they understand that in this case they will receive the most correct solution, and our fellow citizens consider it their duty to begin to bark at the interlocutor, reveling in their own importance. And such cases, unfortunately,
This list can be continued for a long time, since each country has its own IT features superimposed on the local version of English. You never know how to answer a call from Israel. It is equally possible to hear Hi, Shalom, or “Well, don't show off, just say hello and let's work.” Watching the engineers working with Italy and Spain, I can not stop wondering how they understand each other without video communication. Emotions and gestures go off scale every minute, and then it turns out that the client was explained how to install the patch. And from the side, a whole drama happened.
I think the habrasociety also has something to share, especially for those who work with clients from different countries for a long time.