IT Policies

10 most dangerous species of help desk analyst

IT veteran Jeff Dray takes a lighthearted look at different types of help desk analysts. Are you or your coworkers on his list?

IT veteran Jeff Dray follows up his hilarious 10+ most dangerous species of help desk caller and 10 most dangerous species of IT manager lists, with this lighthearted look at the people who inhabit the world's IT help desks.

I picked a few photos to illustrate Jeff's great descriptions, and put them together in a slide show. Click this link or the image below to see Jeff's species of help desk analyst in the flesh.

Author: Jeff Dray

It has taken nearly ten years but finally, after many months lurking in hides or camouflaged as a photocopier, I have identified the genus and species that inhabit our IT support teams.

Photo credit: ©iStockphoto.com/JordiDelgado

1. Auxilium foetorus: "Pig Pen" help desk analyst

Related to the “Pig Pen” user this guy, and it is sadly usually a guy, lives for computers to the complete exclusion of everything else including washing and buying clothes. What they don’t know about the minutiae of obscure networking protocols or graphic card refresh rates isn’t worth knowing. The trouble is, most of what they know is of no interest or use to anyone. Once he re-enters the real world he makes a great addition to the team.

2. Auxilium reinitium: "When in doubt, reboot" help desk analyst

This person tackles every fault by advising a reboot. Yes, this is a sound first step which cures a host of transitory PC ailments, but the users see it as the IT equivalent of the doctor who advises their patients to “Take two aspirins and call me in the morning.”

If the reboot fails to resolve the issue Auxilium reinitium has to find other ways to get to the bottom of the problem. He will buy time by asking the user to read out random strings from the registry. This time is used to scour Google, TechNet and possibly Sporting Life for inspiration.

3. Auxilium complicatus: "I'm better than you" help desk analyst

One of the worst types of help desk analyst I have observed in the wild is the one who uses too much jargon and obscure industry references when talking to non-technical users in an attempt to either show them how clever they are or to belittle them. This species will never use two words when fifty will do. Whereas you and I are happy to keep our jobs in this difficult climate, Auxilium complicatus refers to his “Ongoing recurring employment and deployment situation.” He thinks he is a genius, anyone who meets or works with him thinks he is an annoying idiot.

4. Auxilium Tediosa: "Know-it-all" help desk analyst

The boring help desk tech; He won’t just fix the problem, he will explain in minute excruciating detail just what caused the problem and what a clever so-and-so he is. Outside of work he lives with his mother, in a similar arrangement to Norman Bates. He passes the quiet winter evenings cataloguing his collection of 1980s power supplies.

5. Auxilium Benifica: "I feel your pain" help desk analyst

Auxillium Benificia is a revered and kindly person who, by some strange paperwork accident secured a job on the Help Desk. If it were up to him every caller would get a brand new PC every time he or she placed a call and in addition would get a week off to get used to it. The callers love him but the managers are close to despair. He is often asked for by name and is considered a legend by those who use his services. Sadly his knowledge of problem solving is somewhat less than rudimentary.

6. Auxilium Attentissimus: “Attention to detail” help desk analyst

When you call the help desk and the ACD lottery machine drops your call on this analyst, you're in for a real treat. The job ticket MUST be completed so that every detail, no matter how trivial, is recorded. OK, so the asset number of the machine, your name and telephone number and details of the operating system and application might be useful but your date of birth, social security number and blood group may not be, it all goes into the log, unless you stop it.

7. Auxilium Evangelista: "Evangelising" help desk analyst

No matter what you are trying to do, this person knows a better way of doing it. He or she may be an advocate of open source products, Apple Macs, alternative platforms in general, in short, anything that you don’t have available. Whereas they may have a point in what they say, they miss the point, that the company supplies a standard system and image right across the enterprise and talk of Red Hat, open office or Leopard is purely idle talk.

8. Auxilium Buzzwordia: "Only opportunities" help desk analyst

Closely related to Complicatus, this character picks up on any office buzzword and runs with it until he learns a new one. Ten years ago he was running things up the flagpole and saluting them. Four years ago he would take any immediately irresolvable problems and “put them in the parking lot”, even in England, where the words “Parking lot” are not part of the language. This is the chap you want to condemn to a slow and painful death when he uses the phrase “There are no problems, only opportunities.” Try telling that the person who is trapped in a burning building. If ‘Offshoring’ is ever a likelihood, beware Auxilium Buzzwordia, today’s bizmeth is ‘aligned’ to ‘downsizing’ and ‘leveraging’ efficiencies.

It should be noted that if ‘Leverage’ is used as a verb it is invariably pronounced the American way, even in the UK.

9. Auxilium Methodica: "Mad scientist" help desk analyst

This tech knows all the usual fixes but likes to ring the changes, if he develops a theory about a problem he will try it out on the callers, despite the fact that there is a tried a and tested fix that takes seconds. He hasn’t grasped the fact that the caller wants and needs to get back to work. Methodica sometimes stumbles upon a new way of doing things but is mostly a pain in the neck.

10. Auxilium scriptomania: "Know-nothing" help desk analyst

This is a particularly dangerous Help Desker, and one I had the misfortune to encounter only this week. This one will stick to the script no matter how irrelevant and or unhelpful. As an example I will give a brief reconut of the call I had:

Tech- “Hi my name is xxx how may I help you today?”

Me-”Good Morning, this is Jeff, one of the field techs, can you please reset the download flag for unit number xxxxxxx.”

Tech-”Sure, first I will need some details from you--your name and company name, your email address…”

Me-”No, I’m one of your guys, I just need the download flag reset.”

Tech-”Sure, can you remove the mains cord for me and wait one full minute then restart the machine.”

Me-”No, there is no problem with the machine, I just need the download reset”.

Tech-”Please hold one moment”

20 minutes of Mantovani ----

Tech-”Thank you for holding, is there anything else I can help you with today?”

Me- “Grrrrrrrr!”

This call usually takes about 8 seconds, but Auxilium Scriptomania can make it last forever.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

24 comments
Becca Alice
Becca Alice

...there are frequently management issues contributing to each one. The "read the script" guy is probably working for a transient $10 an hour desk where he is working for six companies at once and doesn't understand what any of them are doing. The "to be honest with you" guy may just have gotten the sixth copy this week of a management letter sent out to the end users telling them to call the desk with any problems with the sixth new system that management never told the desk that management was rolling out. Or is trying to troubleshoot a system for you when management has decided that it's above the security level of the desk staff, so the desk staff has never seen what you're seeing. Decisions from the top make a major difference in what the pawn in the middle can do for you.

BEV KAUFMAN
BEV KAUFMAN

The help desk type I dread above all others is the one with such a pronounced accent I can't understand what he or she is saying.

carolinagirl38D
carolinagirl38D

After spending my time in helpdesk hell, I found the best one for the frequency caller who has me on speed dial - "what page of the manual is it you don't understand?"

sh10453
sh10453

I have encountered a number of those during my career. I had given them the title "To be Honest With You"! They don't know much, but always try to be very kind. I guess they have to (in order to compensate for their lack of knowledge). When you call them and ask a question, they pause for a moment, then may give some weird, unrelated answer or ask you a dumb question, and soon after your reply they would say "to be honest with you, ...". Once they utter the "to be honest with you" words, I always knew the rest of the statement.

uberlist
uberlist

I loved this article. So so true. RM Globalbench Inc. Get the Job. Get the Raise. Get the Promotion. www.globalbench.com

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I haven't seen that pic in a while, I was asked to dig out a notebook password and it took me AGES to crack open the box! Note my shiny new Ford blue hard hat. Oh, to be that young and eager again.

RockerGeek!
RockerGeek!

Oh let me tell you... I used to work for AT&T troubleshooting U-verse. T1 tech support, taking the brunt of the calls and LOTS of misdirects that were supposed to go to sales/billing (stupid interactive voice menu). The way we were trained was to not only use the script all the time every time, but to ONLY follows the troubleshooting steps in the articles provided and NOT deviate. They still claimed they didn't want us to be robots. *major eye roll*

mjd420nova
mjd420nova

My only encounters with help desks has been intra-company where I was dealing with knowledgeable techs digging through a service manual for me. I've even taken my turn there and found it quite enlightening. However, script reading fools who can't seem to manage anything beyond a fixed set of responses can frustrate anyone and get hung up on and a redial with another shot at someone who can really help. You ask me to re-boot and I'll use the phone instead, re-boot you say. CLICK.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

There's a reason we like to call them the Helpless Desk. ;) Although, in my experience, the vast majority of analysts fall outside these 10 species, they are almost universally managed by P. Headinsandia. Would that explain a few things?

waynemeat
waynemeat

It's true! All types of help desk analyst listed here exist. I have at least one of each in my office. I have also had the privilege of being one for a few years. Ha! This is somewhat a little frustrating to read. Sometimes it really is just better to keep a cool head and stick to the script. Help desk analyst's shouldn't be criticized for Manager's decisions nor have to endure a conversation with someone that doesn?t listen or follow the correct contracted procedures. Please write an article on types of client/ customer so that we can see both sides. You might want to include the following: The 'Know it all but can't resolve it' client/ customer The 'You are part of my subconscious' client/ customer The 'I want to do it my way but I don't want to pay for it' client/ customer The 'That is not good enough even know I haven't paid for it' client/ customer The 'I don't want to listen to you even know you are giving me a quick solution' client/ customer The 'I don't want to do it that way even though this is the correct procedure' client/ customer The 'I haven't time for this even know it's completely my fault and this is why I am ringing you' client/ customer ... This list is endless At the end of the day everyone is capable of being an idiot from time to time. The biggest problem inside and outside the office is the bitching that goes on.

SKDTech
SKDTech

The scripts exist for a good reason in many cases. By following a consistent path of troubleshooting certain common problems can be isolated more quickly and consistently. And any helpline which uses a script is just going to have you go through the same steps no matter how many times you hang up and redial to get a new person as they typically don't have a choice and are required to go through the script.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Read the first sentence. Read it a second time. Read it yet again. Parse it, word by word. Do you now understand why your post makes you look the fool?

RockerGeek!
RockerGeek!

But they also don't realize that wireless connectivity has multiple cause/effects The articles/scripts never worked for me as an employee fixing wireless for customers.... I used my own knowledge b/c AT&T thinks you should read a bunch of worthless crap before actually determining the cause, then getting to the solution

four49
four49

We need another article called "Most Dangerous Species of Internet Comment Posters".

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

I'm waiting for the movie to come out (I hear they're talking to Larry the Cable Guy's 'people' for the lead).

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

A third of the country lost power right in the middle of the last scene.

JJFitz
JJFitz

The whole family meets up for lunch - Tony, Tony jr., Carmella, and Meadow and you're not sure if the guy at the counter is a hitman and then the screen goes to black. What the...?

JJFitz
JJFitz

I can't wait until the sequel comes out. :)

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Just the first sentence. And I haven't finished reading the [i]whole[/i] internet. Do you know how many pages there are in .cn? :p

waynemeat
waynemeat

I apologise. Unfortunately unlike you, I have not read the entire internet.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The first poster specifically requests the creation of something that already exists. It not only already exists, the first sentence of the article at the top of this discussion provided a link to it. Think about the observational skills required...and not demonstrated.

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