IBM launching American-only software support
Big red, white, and Blue
IBM is rolling out a new software support package manned entirely by United States citizens.
Big Blue says its Software Secure Support via USA Citizens option provides tech support as well as data analysis and call data contained in an isolated US network untouched by foreign intents.
The offer will be available October 1 to both commercial and federal customers, which previously had to verify the US citizenship of their support operators by grilling them on who won the 2008 World Series (correct answer: the Phillies) and what's the capital of British Columbia (correct answer: I have no idea).
American assistance is available 24x7, assuming it's between the hours of 8 AM EST and 8 PM EST, Monday through Friday (and excluding US IBM and public holidays, or if the IBM facility is down for any reason). Otherwise it's kicked to the customer's standard support entitlement.
IBM says its US-only facility meets all the proper US government security specifications. No word on how much keeping things American will cost, or whether the hold music is a Toby Keith album set on repeat. ®
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The fact that this service meets federal security guidelines? From where I'm sitting, Big Blue created it for Uncle Sam and's letting commercial clients use it to help pay the extra cost of the phonejockies - and the Toby Keith albums.
Those who oppose the outsourcing of US-based airline jobs overseas as U.S unemployment figures reach alarming levels, got another shot of good news recently when Delta Air Lines disclosed that it has stopped using an Indian-based call center to handle sales and reservations, bringing the work back to U.S. soil because customers were unhappy.
Delta joined United Airlines in deciding that the cost benefits of handling calls offshore are outweighed by the backlash from customers. Richard Anderson, Delta’s chief executive, told employees in a recorded message that “customer acceptance of call center representatives in other countries was low, and our customers are not shy about letting us have that feedback.” Customers had complained they had trouble communicating with Indian agents.
This must be due to some sort of U.S. inferiority complex, IMHO. Some ten years ago, I was working for a German company and occasionally needed IBM support. Their German support number has a Stuttgart area code... and back then got me re-routed to Ireland, where friendly and competent multilinguists (mostly Germans) were available around the clock.
I particularly remember one call at approx. 2 am on a Saturday when I had a rather pressing problem with a software installation issue, and the support chaps in Ireland actually copied the hardware I was working on (or trying to) at the time overnight and sent me a working software fix within less than 24 hours. And no, that was not a big company I was working for.
Given that kind of support, why do I need anything "local?" Most companies these days can't be buggered to offer anything more than a checklist-for-known-errors approach with a probable outcome of "sorry, can't help you there" from maybe 7 am through 6 pm.