Do Your Part To Get Good Help
Many times, Iíve received
a request for assistance and wondered whether the user realized that
he was causing more grief than necessary in the process of getting
his issue resolved.
Most people who call a
Help Desk are not calling to hand out praise Ė theyíre calling to get a
problem resolved as soon as possible. Sometimes in the haste to get whatever
is broken fixed, basic human principles of how to treat others are thrown
out the window. When that happens, fixes take longer, feelings are hurt
and grudges are (sometimes) formed.
As a Help Desk Analyst,
I realize that people are (usually) angry at the situation, not at me.
But that doesnít always take away the sting. It doesnít mean I wonít ever
hang up the phone and grab my nearest IT coworker for a complaint session.
But, I will always do my job.
Below are some guidelines
to follow when calling an internal tech support person for assistance.
I cannot speak for tech support at companies outside of your employer,
because I have no experience in that area. If you call Dell for help, some
of these guidelines just donít make sense. Some, however, are universal.
This is a big one. I have received requests for assistance that were
presented in the rudest tone possible, as if the callerís sole intent was
to make me question my career path. You can be frenzied, upset, and physically
ill because of whatever issue youíre having; none of that is an excuse
to treat someone poorly.
Greet your tech support
person. Try to avoid making them feel like your current problem is their
fault. Iím sure not many people intend to convey that feeling, but itís
a different story on the other end of the phone. They are there to help;
treat them like someone who can help you. They'll respond to that Ė itís
only human nature to want to help someone who is friendly and courteous.
your problem in as much detail as possible.
Itís incredibly frustrating
to know that, at some point, a caller received an error message and either
doesnít know any of what it said or vaguely recalls only the first few
words. Think carefully before you clear a message; it could make the difference
between 5 minutes and an hour of downtime. Leave the message on your screen,
write it down, or take a screen shot of the information.
Know what program youíre
having a problem with. Sure, this sounds like a no-brainer, but I
get calls on a weekly basis where thereís a problem with ďMicrosoft.Ē Microsoft
makes a lot of software Ė I need to know the name of the actual application,
not the company that produced the application.
Ask a specific question.
If you want to know ďhow to use Word,Ē take a class
with the appropriate person. In emergency situations, support
staff can try to take time to walk you through whatever process
trying to complete. But as a good general rule...if you have
three or more questions about procedural issues in any application,
you should probably take a class in it.
your lack of planning is not my emergency.
A friend of mine shared
this statement one day and it has stuck with me ever since. Iím not a miracle
worker Ė some things take a certain amount
of time, and I canít possibly make them go faster. Donít expect me to rush
through my job, potentially causing errors and more problems further
down the line, just because you need something done at 4:30 and itís 4:25.
do my best to get it done in your timeframe, but I canít move mountains.
Listen closely to what
instructions you have been given to fix your problem. If necessary,
write steps down. A lot of time will be wasted when staff have to
answer the same question for the same people over and over again
just because they do not pay attention or take note of the instructions
when they first receive them. And please donít
ask me to sit online while you walk through procedural
documentation. Call back if you have a specific problem with any
that support staff have schedules, too.
You are not my
only caller in a day. Sure, sometimes emergencies
pop up and you become number one priority. Those situations
are dealt with as necessary.
But you can't expect someone
at the Help Desk to jump the minute you need a CD to be copied.
We have other callers with other issues to resolve. We have meetings
and administrative duties to complete each day. The caller is
my first priority when the situation warrants it. However, be prepared
to fit into a schedule in some cases.
Help Desk staff are
people, too! We are employees just like you. We get similar
privileges, too...like an hour-long lunch. Just because Iím at my desk
fair game for everyone who needs help...NOW! Observe that
I may be eating my lunch or in the middle of another important project
and be respectful.
Donít pounce on me with
your problems as I'm carrying two monitors and a set of speakers
down the hall.
Don't put me on hold or
speak to others who happen to be nearby when we are having a conversation,
whether it's via telephone or in person. It's incredibly rude. I
have other things to do, too; I shouldn't be expected to wait around while
you talk about the latest baseball scores with someone who just happened
to pop in. If you must talk to someone else, let me know. I'll come back
when you're ready for my assistance.
Oh, and my name isn't
"Honey" or "Sweetie!" Be professional.
policies and use common sense.
My company has a Home
Computer Support Policy which indicates that any support
provided for home computers of employees must be subject to an arrangement
made beforehand between the supporter and the user. Yet, people balk
when I adhere to that policy and ask for an arrangement before
any support is provided. Remember that I will follow the tech policies,
because they make sense to me. Even if you donít understand
a policy, you should follow it and not be surprised that
IT people do, too.
Donít download games,
screensavers, music, etc., to your work computer. Most companies
have policies regarding these actions. When you download or install
software not supported by IT, you make our job harder. We must
attempt to support or resolve issues associated with software that weíve
most likely never used, and which may conflict with legitimate
business applications. Donít expect me to restore your 500 mp3 files
and your various screensavers and games if I have to make a change to
your computer at any point. Remember, the computer belongs to the company...they
are paying for the support to your business workflow, not your
you messed up, admit it.
Lying about a mistake or error that
has caused an issue will only make the problem more difficult to fix. Be
honest and specific about what you did. Youíre saving yourself time if
you assist me by giving me a direction to follow, especially if the problem
is particularly strange.
This is one of those maxims like ďbe
kindĒ which everyone should follow,
in all avenues of life. In the support world, good judgment
means not calling when a broadcast has just been sent indicating that
the data network is down. Donít eat over your keyboard or mouse. Donít
put knickknacks all over your monitor. If we have to move your PC or
bring you new things, clean up the area of your clutter, lest we break
10) Say THANKS!
Any Help Desk staffer can tell you that one of the reasons they enjoy
their job is because they enjoy helping others. And yes, we get
paid to do what we do. But that doesn't mean that making a point
to thank a staffer for their help isn't much appreciated. Some may
say it's what we live for! But besides the warm and fuzzy feeling
it gives us about our job, it's also a good way for you to help others.
When you respond back to confirm that the information you received
was right on the mark and solved the problem, it serves to confirm
the support information we may have on file regarding a particular
issue. This can help to save further time in the future when someone
else calls with that same problem.
There ya go. Ten guidelines
you can follow to make you and your support staff ís day better. Youíll
get better, faster, friendlier support. If your support person is
at all reasonable, he or she will appreciate your efforts to make
a bad situation a little bit easier to bear.
For a more humorous look
at bad ways to get support, check out this month's Bat