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Additions to our classification of species of help desk callers

End users come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities. With this in mind, one tech created a classification system that might have made Darwin proud. This list of help desk caller species was such a hit that we had to expand it.

Many thanks to everyone who responded to my article "Beware the 10 most dangerous species of help desk callers." The way my TechRepublic peers seized upon this article’s spirit and added their own classifications was amazing.

Most e-mails and posts began, “Great article but you forgot to mention the user who….” While there isn’t time in the average tech’s life to finish a classification of every user type, your suggestions will go a long way in providing the foundation for such research. Here are two particularly noteworthy species of help desk callers that must be added to the list.

A far-reaching habitat
It was particularly comforting to learn that the species I classified from my observations in the UK have been spotted around the globe. So far, sightings have been reported in Venezuela, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Belgium, England, Scotland, Finland, Mexico, South Africa, the Netherlands, Singapore, Ireland, the United States, and all points in between. I am relieved to know that the trials and tribulations I experience here in the UK are the same as yours around the world.

Classification of help desk callers: An addendum
11. “The Nice User”: Userus pleasantia
Userus pleasantia was long thought extinct but has recently been observed by TechRepublic member Dennis R. in the forests near Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. This user is mostly harmless and can be recognized by its familiar cries of “Please” and “Thank you.”

“The Nice User” listens carefully, explains his or her problem clearly, and follows suggested procedures. Because of their tendency to think before they act, calls from these users are rare. I have personally encountered this species of help desk caller several times during my career, and each time they help restore my faith in the end user.

12. “The I-Don’t-Believe-You User”: Usera suspictica
This user will ring for assistance, ask a question, listen carefully to your answer, and promptly refuse to accept any information that does not exactly match his or her own preconception. This user is closely related to the "The I-don't-want-to-hear-that! User": Userus headinsandia.

All in fun
Yes, it is possible to provide good customer service, take people seriously, and maintain a sense of humor at the same time. There are lots of wonderful people out there calling the help desk. These individuals have made the last 15 years of my career a pleasure. I have laughed and cried with users, shared their highs and lows, been shouted at, sworn at, threatened, praised, complimented, and commended. I have received unsolicited cards and small gifts on my birthday, as well as the ultimate compliment (being asked for by name).

Sadly, the nice users, who incidentally are by far the most common, don’t have much mileage in them when it comes to comedy. The ones that we remember most are those who fill the help desk hall of shame. It should be remembered that there are two galleries in that particular edifice, callers and help desk workers. Perhaps one day I will start a complete classification of help desk analysts.

Species of help desk analysts
We need your help in starting Jeff’s complete classification of help desk analysts. From call center workers to desktop technicians, send us details on the species of help desk analysts you’ve seen. You may even fall into a category yourself. Post a comment or write to Jeff Dray.

 
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