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Thursday, August 22, 2013

HostGator, I Found Your Problem In Employee Turnover.....

For the last couple of years, the HostGator billboards have been all over the place.

"Do you know Linux...?  We are hiring.

Having been offered an opportunity to interview there twice, I know how aggressive they are in signing good Linux talent.  Having more than a few friends working there, I also know they are hemorrhaging employees.

Employee turnover seems to be a big problem, at least at the Austin location(s).  A good friend who works the swing shift for call center server support told me bluntly:

"It's like the D-Day landing at Normandy.  People are dropping all around me, but I keep pushing on."

On the face of it, it doesn't seem to make sense. Having been a guest there for other reasons, their work environment is nothing short of stellar and the pay is on par with tech salaries in the area. They have employee lunches catered at no cost to the employee, and their break room rivals Google, having seen that one myself in Mountain View.  Everyone there seems to get along fantastically.

Maybe that last part is part of the problem.  Sometimes Camaraderie comes at a price.

Someone who I love dearly was recently hired on at HostGator in Austin.  Her skills are a dream-come-true for tech HR and she loves her work.  Training was machine-gun fast but she kept up and after the training period, she was shown her cubicle and went to work.

Yeah, she had first day jitters, but who doesn't?  There was little time for friendly introductions as everyone around her was at least two calls deep into the cue when she sat down.

And being the first day, it took her a while to acclimate.

But as it often happens in Help Desk support, she ran across a call that she didn't know how to handle.

For those that have never worked at a tech support help desk, a lot happens in the background.  Every tech has an IM screen in front of her, asking how the call is going, and asking her if she needs help with that particular call.  Supervisors watch their section people take and dispatch calls on their screens...ever mindful of a tech spending too much time on a particular call.  In a real world call center, if your supervisor sees on her screen that your call duration is over a certain time limit, she will IM you and ask if you need help.

"Do you need help with this call?"

And if that doesn't produce an answer...

"Is everything going OK?  You seem to be having trouble with this call.  Are you using your troubleshooter database?"

And if that doesn't elicit an answer, you can expect your supervisor to be standing behind you shortly, watching and listening in on her wireless headset.

A call center can be an intense place to work.

But my friend did have trouble answering a question and she dutifully IM'ed her tier two technician for help....

Twice.

Then three times.

And finally a fourth.  She didn't even get a response from a tier three tech or a supervisor.

And I've been a tier three technician...I played a lot of online games.  Help requests were infrequent.  We mostly helped supervisors keep track of call times.

She was a nervous wreck...and the customer wasn't happy.

She had to take down the customer's number and promise to call them back when she found the answer to their question.  A callback counted against her in her call stats and bonuses can be earned or lost on customer callbacks.

She was close to tears, but nothing like she was when she found out why she being ignored when she asked for help.

It seems that there is a little initiation when you go to work in that particular call center.  It's a game of sorts and it all boils down to this.

"Let's ignore the newbie and have a flash pool on how long it takes the new girl to start crying..." 

Again, if you've never worked in a call center, it can be terribly stressful and it's not for those who cannot multi-task easily.

My friend has worked in call centers for years...she's no stranger to that stressful environment...but she knows when she's been played.

When she found out what they were doing, needless to say, she walked out without a word.

So the "Good Ol' Boy" club has chewed and spit out another victim.  From what I have been able to find out, this is common at this center.

I have also been informed that this did reach the attention of management.  But that's a good ol' boy network too.

I bet there isn't much turn over at that level...

I'd be willing to bet on it.

HostGator - Do you know Linux...?  We are humiliating our new hires until they quit hiring.

All-Righty Then...

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I live in Boerne, about 100 miles from Austin. I switched to HostGator, from GoDaddy, about 3 years ago and I've been very happy with their service. I chose them as they are based closer to my local and read many positive remarks about them.

I also have a background in IT support and worked in client support for a systems provider in Houston in the 90's. This type of behavior would have resulted in immediate termination of those involved.

This story reflects very negatively on HostGator, IMO. I will now be considering other web hosting providers for my business and client recommendations.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken. The kind of behavior that you described is absolutely, positively UNACCEPTABLE in any workplace! I worked at a riverboat casino as a slot technician (repaired slot machines). Average time a slot tech lasted there was 1 to 1.5 years. I stuck it out for almost 4 years, as I needed the work. Slot techs were not encouraged to share information about problems with the slot machines, and in fact the lead tech made sure that anyone he didn't like didn't find out info necessary to do their jobs.

On top of that, there were so many rules with less than half of them written down that being written up was a forgone conclusion no matter how hard you tried. New rules seemed to be pulled from thin air whenever the management wanted to try to get rid of an employee.

The employees that were badly treated and fired (or quit) were usually some of the most intelligent and honest workers.

I guess that just means that palace politics and the good old boy networks are going as strong as ever in pretty much any workplace. Unfortunately due to diabetic neuropathy and N stage kidney failure I can no longer work. Or do I mean fortunately!?

I am not sure anymore. Pretty sad really, as the hardest and most painful thing that I ever had to admit to myself was that I could no longer work.

Unknown said...

Ken, Ken, Ken... There is no sexism in IT. Nobody would try to "make the new girl cry" anywhere. I know this because every time I've raised the issue a chorus, no a torrent of men tell me it isn't so. It's all in my pretty little head. That, or I'm some kind of evil feminist Nazi. IT is all sweetness and light and if women don't make it then it's their own fault.

Uh huh...

Good 'ol boy club? Yep, you nailed it.

Anonymous said...

This is very biased. I'm a current employee and I can say this is a horrendous misrepresenation. Every job has its pitfalls and hard to reach resources. This may be magnified in a busy call center environment due to the tiered staff structure. I have never in my year of employment heard talk of deliberate ignoring, hazing, or the like. It certainly can feel that way, though. My position is one of the most frustrating currently, and i find many resources and people to help me out. Sometimes i don't get a response right away sure. Or sometimes it may take 20+ minutes, which sucks.. but..

Everyone is doing the best they can in a growing work environment, which is going through a TON of changes. HostGator is diligently trying to accommodate its growing customer base and staff. That's not going to be a perfect process due to the nature of the technical industry-- and life in general.

You are generalizing one woman's experience and placing blame on an internal work structure that you personally have not witnessed. I think that is quite ignorant, and frankly, most of your statements to patronize HostGator are incorrect or taken out of context.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes i don't get a response right away sure. Or sometimes it may take 20+ minutes, which sucks..

It may take 20 minutes? You gotta be kidding me. So what, you engage the customer in idle chatter for 20 minutes while someone at second tier decides to get off their ass and do their jobs?

I've worked call centers as both a first tier script reader and later as a supervisor. Stuff like this goes on all the time and as a woman, I let it be known that I wasn't taking their bullshit.

I too have friends that worked at HostGator and every one of them complained that the help desk environment was nothing but a catered boiler room.

I now work at Rackspace and I love my job. After this article substantiated my other friend's experience, I wouldn't trust them with my spare change, not to mention my storage and server data.

Sanders said...

I'm speechless.

There are a few issues here,

1) Not being able to attend a call on your first day on the job is mostly meaningless. It is your first day on the job!!!! for god sake!!!

2) Turning into a mess/crying because you can not solve a customer issue sounds stupid, you can explain to the customer that it is your first day on the job.

3) That kind of monitoring on people is stupid you should monitor people for quality on their work, some people is faster/slower than others.

That type of monitoring only leads to ticket juggling.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes i don't get a response right away sure. Or sometimes it may take 20+ minutes, which sucks..

It may take 20 minutes? You gotta be kidding me. So what, you engage the customer in idle chatter for 20 minutes while someone at second tier decides to get off their ass and do their jobs?

I've worked call centers as both a first tier script reader and later as a supervisor. Stuff like this goes on all the time and as a woman, I let it be known that I wasn't taking their bullshit.

I too have friends that worked at HostGator and every one of them complained that the help desk environment was nothing but a catered boiler room.

I now work at Rackspace and I love my job. After this article substantiated my other friend's experience, I wouldn't trust them with my spare change, not to mention my storage and server data.

Unknown said...

Both HostGator and RackSpace have built reputations -- both are not considered great places to work.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Hostgator is that everyone is trying to hit their quota so if you have to stop what you are doing and help someone it affects you negatively. Yeah sometimes you can put in "help hours" but those get denied frequently.

The whole system there is obnoxious and you either sink or swim. If you don't like being micromanaged then Hostgator is NOT the place for you.

Anonymous said...

As a supervisor for a mid-sized hosting company in Michigan, we know the value of our employees and do everything we can to encourage, assist and provide ongoing daily support and training via a tiered internal help system with senior admins standing by to assist new employees in cases like this exactly as described.

I will not belittle my fellow tech-brethern but will only add this... to those who love the job and learning, head up north to see what you are missing.

We will take your casual castoffs and turn them into lean mean linux fixing machines...

Anonymous said...

I just got fired from HG just days before my benefits kicked in. Not even at the 90-day mark where they set the ticket system to auto-assign tickets, they put me on a "performance plan" - which I was repeatedly assured would never happen until after the 90 days. Then, during this performance plan which I should never have been on in the first place, I supposedly left a closed ticket assigned to myself. They fired me, citing the performance plan plus the ticket didn't get any further responses from other agents for a few hours. As far as I know, no complaints were made, yet they decided to fire me. Don't even get me started on the inadequate training and incompetent supervisors.

I'm considering suing them for breach of contract.

shanepax23 said...

Good for you! I hope you get em