Bill Detwiler: Whether you support end users in New York, New Delhi, Beijing, Budapest, Cape Town, or Cairo, there are several phrases the users routinely use when talking to the help desk. The inexperienced tech may take these expressions at face value, but the IT veteran knows that these phrases sometimes have a hidden meaning.
I'm Bill Detwiler, and during this IT Dojo video, we'll take a lighthearted look at some of the things you hear from your users -- and try to decipher what they often, really mean.
As someone who's taken hundreds of support calls on both enterprise and small-office help desks, I can attest to the fact that IT pros hear several key phrases over and over again from end users. These expressions sound harmless enough but often have hidden meanings.
Among the list of phrases that we'll go over today, I'm sure you'll see some that you've heard before and some that you might have even used yourself.
User says: I haven't touched anything.
User means: I have just fiddled with some registry settings, erased critical system files, or installed an unauthorized piece of software, and now my computer won't work at all.
User says: I really, truly haven't touched anything.
User means: I've really done it this time!
User says: What would happen if...?
User means: I've just done something stupid. How would I fix it without anyone knowing?
User says: Listen, I'm a personal friend of the CEO
User means: The CEO once swore at me for parking in her space.
User says: Of course everything is plugged in! Do you think I'm stupid?
User means: I better check the cables!
User says: I really can't waste any more time on this -- goodbye!
User means: I just spotted what I did wrong, and I'm very embarrassed.
User says: My screen is blurred, and I get headaches.
User means: The guy across the corridor just got a new monitor, and I want one too.
User says: Is there a problem with the network?
User means: I forgot my password.
User says: It won't let me in and I know I entered the password correctly.
User means: I have the CAPs lock on.
User says: I checked my CAPs lock, and I still can't log in.
User means: I forgot my password, and the last time this happened, I had my CAPs lock on.
User says: Has this problem been reported by anyone else?
User means: Am I the only clueless person who works here?
Now, during this video we've poked a little fun at end users. And in the next IT Dojo, we'll turn the tables and look at some of the phrases IT pros use and the hidden meanings behind those.
But in all seriousness, effective communication skills and a professional demeanor are just as critical as certifications and technical knowledge in today's IT world. And while you may suspect or even know that what a user says and what he means are dramatically different, you should never accuse him of lying during a support call, nor should you speak to your users in a patronizing or accusatory manner. Serious end-user offenses should be handled with the assistance of your human resources department or legal counsel.
But back to our list of common end user support phrases. Support blogger Jeff Dray drew on his many years of experience on the help desk for this list, but it's just a start. Have you heard any of them? Are your end users fond of an expression with a hidden meaning? If so, let us know about it in the IT Dojo blog.
And as always, for more teachings on your path to becoming an IT Ninja, visit itdojo.techrepublic.com. And please let us know if this tip was helpful.
You can also submit your favorite IT Ninja tips by e-mailing them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If we use them for an episode of IT Dojo, we'll send you a TechRepublic coffee mug.
I'm Bill Detwiler. Thanks for visiting TechRepublic's IT Dojo.