Last time, I began a discussion of what’s wrong with American business. I’d like to follow-up with a few more examples. I’ve just started using Windows 10 and I’ve discovered some of my software that worked on the old operating system won’t work on the new one. Case in point: Acronis, an essential program for backing up all the data and programs on your computer. I learned a long time ago not to assume anything, so I decided to call Acronis and simply ask if the latest version of their software would run on Windows 10. Turns out, it wasn’t so simple.
The friendly Acronis help number on their website leads callers to a not-so-friendly automated call system. “Press 1” for this, “Press 2” for that, ad infinitum. Each selection leads you down a maze from which you cannot return without hanging up and re-dialing. One “helpful” selection ended by directing me to the Acronis website where I had first gotten the phone number I dialed. Another informed me if I were calling for technical support with their product that was a paid service and I should have my credit card handy. This made me a bit concerned about purchasing their product, realizing if I had any difficulty installing it there would be an additional expense. Eventually, after five separate phone calls over a 25-minute period, I was able to get a human being on the phone. I’d like to say the sacrifice to the gods I made in between calls had something to do with it, but more than likely it was just happenstance.
This is where it should get really simple. Windows 10 is the latest version of the operating system used by more people in the entire world. Acronis makes software. “Does your company software run on Windows 10?” should be the easiest question for any employee to answer. Besides the fact they probably run the program on their own computers, it’s a simple question of product knowledge. When I was a student washing dishes at Steak and Ale I was required to learn everything about the company from its history (founded by Norman Brinker) to the price of each item on the menu, even though I never stepped out of the kitchen. Employees were expected to know about the company they work for and the product or services the company offers. That’s good business sense.
Not so with Acronis. The young lady I spoke to told me she had no idea whether their company’s software product would run on the world’s largest computer operating system. She also told me she had no access to that information and no one at the company whom she could ask. Acronis employs 700 people, but apparently not one of them could answer my simple question.
So she outsourced it. She gave me a number to call. “Who is this that I’ll be speaking to?” I asked.
“It’s one of our third-party vendors.”
“So this is not a phone number for Acronis?” I asked.
“No,” she replied, “but we send a lot of people to them when they have questions.”
So I called the number. I found myself speaking to a nice young man at a company called Cleverbridge. He was sympathetic to my problem but admitted he didn’t know anything about Acronis software. Cleverbridge, you see, is a company that handles billing for many businesses selling hundreds of software products. If I had an issue with a bill I had received from Acronis then he could resolve the matter, but he only dealt with invoices, not the actual product. He did offer to email Acronis and ask that they get in touch with me directly.
As of this writing, I haven’t heard back from Acronis. I’m glad I wasn’t trying to contact them about a technical support issue. But what’s amazing is that I’m a customer who wants to give a business money and I have to spend two hours attempting, unsuccessfully, to find even one of its 700 employees who can answer the most basic question about its product.
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