The Law of Unintended Consequences

Corporate help desks are generally gauged on call length – support reps are given bonuses for having shorter average call times. If call lengths get too long, they can get fired.

One PC company was trying to drive down call lengths, so they put a policy in place – any rep with more than three calls over ten minutes would be laid off. Call lengths plummeted, and customer satisfaction ratings jumped.

…but support costs skyrocketed. When they dug in a bit, they discovered that call reps would do their best to help a customer, but when a call went past nine minutes with no end in sight, they would just ship the customer a new computer. Customer off the phone and happy.