Friday, March 10, 2006

Apple Changing It's Name To Khaye Computer?

The Hindi word for apple is khaye.

In a somewhat related to story to yesterday about Apple possibly outsourcing AppleCare ... apparently now they are outsourcing customer support as well.

According to Macworld:

Apple to set up tech support center in India

Apple is setting up a technical support center in Bangalore, India, according to a report Thursday in a local Indian newspaper.

Apple will hire 1,500 staff at the technical center by the end of this year, according to The Times of India newspaper. The center will have 3,000 staff at the end of next year

The article mentions that many large technology companies have support centers in India. Yeah Apple ... apparently you aren't listening to everyone complain about Dell and BellSouth phone support.

Do they really not pay attention to all of the jokes about Indian phone support?

One of the things I have always liked about Apple is that you got someone that spoke English well ... even when I have been transferred to a call center in Ireland. The Irish support associates will joke with you and make you feel at ease calling. The Indian associates are hard to understand and are very scripted ... making them sound uncaring and unresponsive.

This is a bad khaye!


In Russet Shadows said...

ArsTechnica ripped Apple a new one the other day for this kind of foolishness. On the other hand, the US is being strangled by over-regulation and moves like this are just another result of creating a business-unfriendly environment.

Anonymous said...

Business-unfriendly or is it consumer-friendly? Always consider the all the consequences of your "improvement".

Anonymous said...

Re: Russet Shadows comment: Yes, the US is being strangled by over-regulation... such as paying living wages. This is a move of economy, not over-regulation, and saying that it is anything but that is to spin more right-wing drivel.

FYT said...

Personally ... I'd rather have housewife/disabled $8 an hour labor than outsourced Indian labor ... if Apple really wanted to ... they could find a way to keep the jobs with native English help.

Anonymous said...

The last time I called Apple support (recently) I spoke with a very nice gentleman who really knew what he was talking about.

Before that, I had spoken with another very knowledgable and nice guy who was in Texas for my Apple Store order.

Too bad they are moving it to India. Calling on the phone will be useless now.

Middle-agedman said...

There are two sides to this issue and you need to keep both sides in mind. There is the side that makes sense and is logical and there is the side that is necessary and practical. There are problems associated with either that need to be addressed.

Let me draw a parallel between what is apparently happening with Apple now and what happened with HP before they merged with Compaq. I was an HP representative and had to deal with this issue constantly.

At a time when Dell and Gateway and even Compaq had 1-800 numbers, HP was using a number with a normal area code. The cost of using tech support was still free, but you had to pay for the call itself. People squawked about this all the time.

Here was the rationale and it made a TON of sense and once people were made aware of these things they stopped complaining. First of all, HP had a very excellent support team that was easy to understand and able to close issues fairly quickly. Secondly, the hold times were very, very short. Whereas you could expect to be on hold with Dell and Gateway for 30, 40, 50 minutes or more and get lower quality help, with HP the GOAL hold time was only THREE minutes. The ACTUAL time was about ONE and a Half Minutes!! Once connectred, the resolution was reasonably quick and very understandable. It was rare that I felt that I was dealing with someone that was reading from a script. Total cost of the call if you had a discount long distance company was perhaps $1.50 to $3.00 for half and hour to an hour.

What is really important when you need tech support? That your issue is solved as quickly as possible! People's time is worth a lot of money and they never considered that spending an hour or two on hold and then having to listen to endless menus of call queues and talk to a never-ending supply of people that knew less than they did to be expensive in terms of their time.

Once people understood the above, they were happy to pay the extra money to get good support. This is almost an impossible message to get out in a general statement, however, so most people will never hear or understand this.

Ultimately, HP had to go the route of 1-800 support based out of India and I heard even more complaints about longer hold times and people that were hard to understand and weren't as helpful. Good job complaining about the pre-existing situation; you got what you deserved.

The reality of customer support is that it is EXPENSIVE. One way to cut down on the number of unnecessary calls (thus cutting the call queues and hold time) was to require people to call a NON-TOLL FREE number. People would think twice about calling for something they could look up themeselves. There have always been excellent self-help materials electronically in the box or on the web.

Here's another important issue: no matter how low computer prices go or how profits go down for computer makers, people still expect support to be as free as it was when prices and margins are higher. Prices and margins go down and wages go up; there is the difficulty. When you have to do more with less, you've got to sometimes do what everyone else is doing and in this case it is outsourcing technical support.

People in India do NOT make $8.00/hr. They make about $1.00-$2.00 an hour for doing this type of work. The cost of living in India is lower; you can raise a family on $50.00/week. The economy of using outsourced technical support starts to become obvious.

The difficulty with any kind of service in the computer industry is the formula referenced above. Price of technology goes down and tech support salaries stay the same or go up. Something has got to give.

People also complain all the time about how hard it is to get someone to help you at the various low-priced retail outlets. Whether its Office Depot or Home Depot, to keep prices low they've got to cut costs and labor is one of them. Gone are the days when they can afford to keep an "expert" in every aisle. They can barely afford to have actual cashiers and stockers at the profits they are bringing in.

Its kind of like the old adage that went: There's fast, cheap, and good. You can pick any two. With support, you can either have great support but higher prices on equipment or you can have lesser support along with the lower prices. You cannot have both.

If people truly need technical support, they should be willing to pay for it. There is no reason why a person like myself who does NOT need tech support should have to subsidize the costs of someone who does. Those who are not "tech savvy" because they have not taken the time to school themselves in same should have to pay to have someone help them or be content with the support that is available for free.

Apple is doing what it can to keep prices for its equipment low. With the relative ease of use of their equipment and software, how much support do people reaslly need?

Here is what I think Apple should do to resolve this issue for everyone. For those that purchase AppleCare, in addition to hardware protection, they will also get US-based phone support. For those that want it, a subscription to US-only support or they could call it "premium support" could cost in the range of $50.00 a year or could become part of the .MAC offering. If you want better tech support along with low prices, you should have to pay for it.