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Why 2K?

Hudson Cooper - Columnist
Posted 3/25/21

World-wide panic set in as we approached the year 2000. Fearing that computers around the world would not be able to recognize the digits that make up 2000, pundits warned of a catastrophe.

They …

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Why 2K?


World-wide panic set in as we approached the year 2000. Fearing that computers around the world would not be able to recognize the digits that make up 2000, pundits warned of a catastrophe.

They predicted uncontrollable launch of nuclear missiles. The complete nationwide shut down of our electrical grid. All business and home computers would cease to function. Telephone service would crash. The excitement of entering a new millennium was replaced with a sense of dread and panic.

As the countdown to the new year approached, I remember holding my breath as I prepared for the worse. At the count of midnight nothing happened out of the ordinary. No mushroom clouds, my television was still broadcasting New Year's celebrations around the world and my computer filled up with emails from my friends wishing me a happy and healthy 2000. Everything was normal. It seemed like it was business as usual.

I quickly learned that one business was not operating in the usual fashion. The next morning my printer stopped working when I tried to download some of my emailed New Year's wishes. Unable to fix it myself, I called tech support.

The same telephone number that used to get me to a technician in California now somehow connected me to a guy named “Bob” who claimed to be in Dallas, Texas. But when I asked “Bob” if he was a Cowboys fan he replied “Oh very much so. John Wayne and Clint Westworld.” It was my introduction to the new world of tech support.

Seeing the opportunity to provide computer support, countries around the world geared up for what they assumed would be big business by hiring technicians to answer Y2K tech questions. Suddenly rooms in India, Brazil and the Philippines sprang up occupied by thousands of trained technicians ready to talk you through your Y2K problems for a fee. Even though Y2K did not have devastating results it did have an impact of the service known as tech support.

After the threat of a Y2K disaster vanished, these tech support companies pivoted into offering general tech support for major companies around the world. Rather than hiring and training tech support staff in-house, businesses contracted to provide support through these less expensive former Y2K companies. Besides getting the technicians at a lower price, companies did not have to worry about providing health insurance, retirement packages and office space for their former in-house technicians.

Tech support really amped up in the 1990's. It seems that everybody had a desktop computer, internet connection, an email account and even the cell phone was becoming popular. The new technology coupled with so many new users made tech support an important part of major companies. Things really boomed in the 2000's with thousands of startup tech companies and new apps on computers and cell phones.

How important is tech support to a company? Poor customer experiences cause an estimated $80 billion loss in revenues because of loss of business. I get frustrated when I call a company and must sort through a dozen steps to speak to a person. Statistics show that more than half of us hang up during that process.

My suggestion is to stay on the phone. Eventually the support specialist will take the time to fix your tech problems. But since they handle similar problems all day long, many of them talk too quickly for you to respond. When they speed through “press the shift key, then type in 87PK29, turn off the number lock, go ahead and tap the tab button as you press enter,” I interrupt them by saying I am not too computer savvy. The technician will then usually slowly talk you through your tech problem.

In my case after 10 minutes “Bob” suggested I check my printer's power cord. Noticing that it was not fully plugged in, problem solved. I thanked “Bob” but did not have the heart to tell him that Clint's last name is Eastwood not Westworld.


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