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Stranger than Fiction

Looking for help in all the wrong places

Wall Street Journal 25 Aug 97

A survey of computer help desks conducted by Service Intelligence found that in a quarter of the 90 completed calls, technicians either provided the wrong answers or said the problem was unsolvable -- even though each question asked was taken from the company's own Web site list of frequently asked questions, or FAQs. "We expected to find a high level of knowledge in answering questions, and we found the opposite," says a Service Intelligence research director. Researchers also cited wait times of 10 minutes or more before getting through to a human. In response, the companies targeted -- Adobe Systems, Corel, Intuit, Lotus Development Corp., Maximizer Technologies and Microsoft -- say they field a tremendous number of inquiries each day and the vast majority of callers receive satisfactory answers. "At Adobe, people are trained and tested before they are ever put on the phones," says an Adobe spokeswoman. "That is not to say the person might not have the answer," she adds.

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