Tech companies should have more email support

I’ve recently been getting support from Apple regarding an iCloud issue and I have a few observations to make.

The first thing Apple absolutely must do is set up some sort of email-based support system. Currently everything is done by phone and this is absolutely the worst way to go about it.

For starters, my hearing is terrible. I have profound hearing problems and using the telephone is one of the situations where it’s most difficult for me. Forcing me to use a phone is essentially disability discrimination. Apple say they have ‘accessibility assistants’ for such situations but I want to type, not talk. End of.

Second, email support is so much more convenient. I must have had nearly a dozen calls regarding this issue so far and that means reorganising my calendar and making sure I’m available for every single one of them, and this is hugely inconvenient. Email is far less of a disturbance in that way where both me and Apple support can reply at our leisure.

Third, with email support you can take your time when implementing instructions rather than the rushed, pressured way in which one often does so when on the phone. You can attach files to emails easily for things like screenshots and dump outputs. You can use both hands on the keyboard, headphones not withstanding.

I admit there are some times when a phone call is more appropriate, like when a support engineer needs to see your screen while you do something, but email is going to be the most convenient, most effective method of dealing with most support issues. I’d say about two thirds of the support calls I’ve had with Apple over the last month would have been better handled via email.

Messenger-based support is just as bad too, what with their ill-designed apps that rarely even allow you to have paragraph breaks. And it’s another support method that interrupts you in the here and now. I hate messenger support almost as much as I hate phone support.

Get with the programme Apple — it’s the 21st century. That goes for a bunch of other tech outfits too.

A lot of companies make support as inconvenient as possible to discourage the use of it at all. That stinks and they know it. The provision of support is often considered a mere inconvenience for companies when their upfront aim should really be to provide the most effective, most convenient support they possibly can, particularly when they charge as much for stuff as Apple does.

That said, I’ve found the individual support engineers I’ve talked with to be both polite and helpful. There are the usual levels you have to go through to get to someone who can actually help of course, which is frustrating, but I sort of understand that (even if I don’t like it) from a company the size of Apple. My particular problem has taken some time to sort out — since 5th April, which is nearly eight weeks at the time of writing and it’s still ongoing — which is also frustrating, but I can’t complain at any individual support engineer’s approach when they’ve actually been on the phone to me.

Big shout out to Andreas, who has been brilliant.

But the big take away from this article is that tech companies absolutely need to implement email support. I understand them filtering out some things via scripted help sections to begin with but, where such things fail to sort the problem out, email should be the primary method of contact. At the very least the customer should have an even choice of email, messaging or phone support.