Leadership

Video: Understanding what support techs say and what they really mean


In last week's IT Dojo video, we took a lighthearted look at several phrases end users often use during support calls and the hidden meanings these  phrases often have. As turn-about is fair play, it's time to look at the difference between what IT pros often say and what they mean.

Even though we try our best to communicate honestly and clearly with our users, we have to admit that we sometimes fall back on a few handy excuses or stalling tactics. In this video, I'll illustrate with a few examples. You decide if any of them sound all-too-familiar.

For those of you who prefer text to video, you can click the Transcript link that appears below the video player window or you can also read Jeff Dray's download "10+ things support techs say (and what they really mean)," on which this video is based.

You can also sign up to receive the latest IT Dojo lessons through one or more of the following methods:

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...

90 comments
georgies
georgies

You know, no offense to the author, but in order to drag more attention, hits and readers, you do what you can, and i respect it. I believe it is a "hidden" conspiracy that grows in everyone of us, either he goes IT or not, since computers came out. When people cannot understand something about technology they often get angry because someone else does, and they want to know too. They insult themselves by showing how jealous they are because they don't seem to know what they are talking about, well most of the time. While we, the IT, try to keep the best to help them out, passing a hell to understand them without insulting them, we are the bad guys. It is in the position what the topic put me into. Me and some of the conscious IT workers that may read this. I love being an IT guy and i live every moment out of it, while discovering and finding difficulties that help users, and i know i am being the kindest person exists in my daily life. But i tell you one simple thing, it is not our job to being able to handle the different people all the time. It is where we have to be diplomatic as some say. Maybe we know, maybe we don't know how to solve your problem. To some people i am being honest, because i know they are by my side and i am for them: "Mrs Jones, i honestly have no idea what is causing this problem of yours, will you give me some time to figure it out?" When you are being pushed to the limit, yes sir, eat my diplomacy and enjoy till i figure out your problem.

wlportwashington
wlportwashington

Bill, You mentioned that we should never be patronizing or flip with our end users. But what if they are with you? More often that not we find that the users are extremely flip with tech support setting up a bad situation...."you want your computer fixed this decade?" or "I'll teach you, I am going to give you a clunker as a spare."

xjrfanatic
xjrfanatic

Thanks for exposing habits of a bad tech for the community. If you did this on my team you would be quickly unemployed. IT10T errors can happen on both ends of a tech support conversation. Nothing is accomplished by being obscure - if you don't know what the error is, tell them you're going to replicate it and isolate the cause. It's called log files and event viewer. Use them. If you can't figure out what it is, don't pretend. Users want results and don't appreciate such coy behavior.

brian
brian

Sounds (and looks) like a PICNIC - Problem In Chair Not In Computer - specially with those oogy chips

tbmay
tbmay

LOL. Stop giving out the inside information Bill. Seriously though, if users think we're going to have a database in our brains of every piece of software that allows us to instantly give them a fix for every behavior they might experience, they have the wrong idea. A good tech is a problem solver, not one who has memorized a billion behaviors and fixes.

duckbutter_kappasig
duckbutter_kappasig

Can you e-mail me with what's going on for me please. or in lucky businesses that have ticket systems Can you put a ticket in for me on that please Meaning: I'm really busy right now, I don't have anything to write it on, and if you don't it won't get done because I will forget.

foff
foff

I've dealt with end-users my entire IT career...regardless of what capacity/role I undertake. I have to get a bit defensive about the comment about displaying courtesy to the end-users at all times. While it is a "give" anyway...it does annoy me that the end-users do not always offer the same courtesy. I believe that has to be the single-most worst part of being an IT professional. Oh and blowing out on budget....but we'll save that for another rainy day!

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

When it comes to computer problems tech sites like this one are in the lead for understanding how the computer works.Bill you're talking to people with degrees in computer science.

craig.iedema
craig.iedema

So many problem be solved by telling users to Reboot Restart and Ringback

dbecker
dbecker

Let's face it: The clients we support are our friends and they suffer the same as we do, especially when it comes to buggy vendor software. One example is the Microsoft Excel 2007 where [and now there are patches to fix it], the bloody thing can't add columns straight under some circumstances. I always think it as the thrill of joint exploration for the things which cannot possibly happen, but actually do. After we get over the shock [that's not right!] and fix the problem, we then share the delicious secret jointly that WE KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER TO YOUR SOFTWARE!

jimstraw
jimstraw

well, since it appears that the funny codes abound.. re: PEBCAK We can't forget the ever so funny.. "One-D-Ten-T" error (1D10T)

Grinner
Grinner

Useless to me in this format: Putting it in video means: 1. Must annoy my co workers with the dialog (don't have earphones for this) 2. My company isn't really wild about video feeds on company time/bandwidth 3. I'd reather read it. I can read faster than whoever it is can talk and skip ahead with no effort at all. 4. How about a text version of these video 'articles'? I'd like to read them.

wimmo
wimmo

I'm really curious to hear some hilarious helpdesk stories, but this time in point of view of the customer. What stupid question (yes, they exist!) or advise were asked or told to the user, which were totally unrelated to the clearly explained problem? Kind regards!

timbstoke
timbstoke

Tech says: Let's run through that procedure one more time and check the exact error message. Tech means: "It gave me an error - I didn't read it, I just clicked until it went away" is not a particularly useful problem description.

i.t
i.t

I love the way you are superimposed in a server room, Its uber l33t!

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Even though we try our best to communicate honestly and clearly with our users, we have to admit that we sometimes fall back on a few handy excuses or stalling tactics. In this video, I illustrate a few examples. You decide if any of them sound all-too-familiar What are your favorite stock phrases for users that really mean something else? Original post: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=372

Support Slug
Support Slug

"IT10T errors can happen on both ends of a tech support conversation." You misspelled idiot you moron. LOL People who use the term "ID10T" are Lusers.

ajohansson
ajohansson

I actually tell them that I'll forget before I get back to my desk. 90% of the time, I'm headed to someone's desk to work on something else.

amm
amm

We don't have a ticketing system. On the way to help a user, I inevitably get stopped in the hallway by another user, or five. I ask them to send me an email about the issue and honestly admit I will forget if they don't.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

BALTHOR, This might be the first time you've posted to one of my discussion threads with text that doesn't appear to be copied from a random technical manual. I hope it's not the last.

f.lohse
f.lohse

BTW, thanks to TR for the transcripts, they are pretty much the only site that provides them ... useful not just for watching the video on the sly but also for our hearing impaired colleagues.

Wally Bahny
Wally Bahny

He includes a link to the source article in the text below the video -- check it out.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

I was away from my desk for some time. When I returned, I called, and there was no answer. In the vmail, I said to email me when a good time to call back was :0

SAStarling
SAStarling

Me to end-user: Did you shut down your computer completely and restart it again? Meaning: Last time I asked you if you "re-booted," you responded "yes, I completely logged out of XYZ Software and logged back in, but I'm still getting the same error."

smhodge
smhodge

In your video you asked if we had phases that we use with our users. Mine is "Annoying." When something doesn't work when it should I say to my user "That's annoying." What I really mean is "God, I hope I have a solution, because it is suppose to work!" It also lets them know that I acknowledge their fustration with the current problem. I support software and my husband does hardware - so between one of us has to know something! Enjoyed the videos.

ManISKid
ManISKid

My favourite is something I use almost all the time: "Well I can tell that this is frustrating/angering/annoying you, and we don't want this to happen" [wait for a hmff/"yeah"/"uh hu"] "how about you tell us what you did to get there" What I really mean is: "Relax, settle down, we deal with emotional people all day (and we've achnowledged your emotional message), so just get specific as to what your problem is." Net result, they stop trying to get their emotional message across and are then able to get down to the business of getting specific with the problem. Be careful though as other techs who can overhear you start thinking you get all the angry customers.

jguym1
jguym1

Well, hmmmmm. It seems like the software error is coming from the keyboard....

Shirokit
Shirokit

I like using Thats a strange problem. " Meaning I have no idea wtf you did that will cause that problem." Or What exactly do you want it to do? " Meaning i have no idea what you just said and need a logical explination asto what you want to accomplish"

Shirokit
Shirokit

This is probably our favorite in the office. We usually use it for users that get simple windows settings problems, Like they keep printing to the wrong printer because that printer is set as default / launching outlook express instead of Microsoft Outlook. Or users contacting us for meaningless popup messages that would get soled if they only RTFS. For those that does not know OSTAFU it stands for Operating System To Advanced For User

dbrown
dbrown

Remember RTFM -- Read The F****** Manual

lweldon
lweldon

Usually means you should use Linux PLUS I don't have a clue what's wrong.

helpdesk
helpdesk

I sometimes use the phrase "It was a Bill Gates issue". On occasion when looking into a reported error, there are so many possibilities as to why something broke and it takes time to eliminate them. During this investivigative process, the error sometimes resolves itself. When I don't have the time to allocate on a problem that has resolved itself, this has been a good fallback that has never failed to be accepted.

lori@serviceideas.com
lori@serviceideas.com

Commonly used phrase is that "the DLL's must be or have gotten corrupted". Which is basically stating I have no idea why it no longer works, but reinstalling should fix that.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

Really?? I havent heard of that before. Lets Netmeet

richardp
richardp

Nothing beats front line experience, which Bill apparently has. I first obtained significant experience in college volunteering in the datacenter. The same "forgot password" / "I don't have time for this" / "my computer doesn't work" came up 25 years ago also. Patient "OK, let's just try this..." helps others get the job done.

richardp
richardp

Practically all of these points simply come down to times when the tech does not know. These can buy time to gather information or think through the issue (or brush them off hoping they don't call back too soon). Still, being too honest and transparent can hurt the relationship. ***No one seeking help wants to hear "I don't know.."! If we have their trust, though, then we can work it out.

misc.sauri
misc.sauri

Translation: Are you the only one who can't follow procedures?

Becca Alice
Becca Alice

For a user who has repeatedly failed to log in despite their caps lock being off, their password being reset, and it working from here, I often say "You know, you may have a crumb or a dust bunny stuck under a key. Try picking up your keyboard and shaking it sideways, then let's try this again." Beneficial because 1) they often discover lost continents hidden in their keyboard and get it cleaned out, so on the off chance it is a keyboard dustbunny we're good to go and 2) if it's not a dustbunny, it gives time for any mental glitch or finger tremor to get worked out and forgotten with an entirely different motion and thought process before they try again clean and fresh. Inevitably they log in just fine after this routine.

greg.hruby
greg.hruby

they can handle. yes - it human psychology 101. If its a user whose understanding of computers is limited to color and shape - then keep it simple. If you have someone who knows a lot - let them know. I figure part of herd management through IT support is to get them to ask for better equipment. It may not have an instant turn-around, but it sure gets them thinking about it.

Wally Bahny
Wally Bahny

So, everyone else in the office is a "lame user", but you get to play the tech guy, huh? Gotta love being the host of the show... XD

TechRepublic
TechRepublic

I have always said that the first rule of phone support is "Get a Confession". Some users are good at this, some are like mobsters (nobuddy saw nuttin), so I have these questions: - "...and then what did you click on..." If I have a decent idea as to what might have happened, it gives the user the opportunity (or forces them to) tell you what they were into. - "...and read those settings to me..." Bill used this one as a sandwich-break-diversionary tactic, but I tend to use this question in lieu of "Did you change XYZ setting". The difference is in tone - one asks if user did something that they might or might not have done, the other just states the facts without blame. It's the difference between "you screwed up" and "mistakes were made". - "I would like to confer with some colleges on this issue". Yep, that is usually what I am going to do, but sometimes it means that I have to set up a virtual machine so I can try to break it like you did... (and used just yesterday) - "I will pass your feature request to product development". Yeah, I am actually going to do that too, but for the customers I know well, it often gets followed-up with "but I wouldn't hold my breath" Cheers, Chris

Hebert Consulting
Hebert Consulting

"I narrowed the problem down to somewhere between your keyboard and chair." (I use much discretion with this one. Only select clients which know me well and understand my sense of humor.)

Scottthetech
Scottthetech

Working in a school district, you see all kinds. I've got teachers that talk to me about the websites they develop on the side, and others who are afraid to turn on their computers (if they have one in the classroom) Most of my service requests involve users simply not knowing what they are doing, or what they did. I'm not claiming to have invented this term, but the root source of the problem is a PEBKAC issue. P roblem E xists B etween K eyboard A nd C hair Users always get very quiet when I say this, and they usually think they've really screwed something up big-time. I always assure them that PEBKAC issues are usually fairly easy to fix.

blcslv
blcslv

Meaning 1: I don't have time to put that picture of your family as your background to your desktop but when I get time next century I'll take care of it. Meaning 2: Please just Google it yourself and leave me alone. I have enough to do without you adding to it when it is not mission critical.

2WiReD
2WiReD

heck, Ive even told a user that it was a "standard eye-dee-ten-tee user error" [standard id10t user error] over the phone, then had to mute while i fell off the chair laughing..... hey, somethings gotta balance out the crappy wages, right?

rjkreider
rjkreider

BOFH excuses are always a great addition to throw in every now and then. I'm guilty of using them once in awhile.

keith
keith

One of my favourite ones is. "That's Odd. Let me investigate it a bit further." Meaning. "I've never seen that before. Hold on while I google it."

zynn
zynn

I enjoy the bits of humor mixed in with the tips and tricks. Sometimes you just need to sit back and laugh at yourself. Our job can be stressful at times with end users and bosses. All the more reason for a good chuckle once in a while. Keep up the good work Bill.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Operating System Not Setup Correctly For The User. My systems have correctly set printers based on where the user works, has OE removed and has no meaningless popup messages at all.

sarahwww
sarahwww

"You can thank Mr. Gates for that" or "That's a party favor from Bill Gates" (esp for things like windows shut down errors and such).

michael.d.whittle
michael.d.whittle

Are you using a laptop? If so have you recently unplugged an external keyboard? If so, your numlock is probably on......... Yes, I was guilty of this one.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

I didn't figure anyone would take offense to the technically-challenged end user characters. But, I thought the "bad tech" might take some heat. Figured if there was going to be heat, I should at least be the one to take it. ;)

Roc Riz
Roc Riz

...on the second Tuesday of next week. If they get it right away, we both laugh. On rare occasions I just use it for a quick exit.

atarentus
atarentus

Equipment Exceeds Operator Capabilities

pkducky
pkducky

Don't forget the little ditty 'OEOEO...' or Operator Error, Operator Error, Operator...

snideley59
snideley59

From the sublime to the ridiculous. I've been following him for years. Google BOFH (bastard operator from hell) and settle in for a chuckle or two.

charlie
charlie

Unfortunately so many IT guys and gals are so deluded they think they DO know everything and fail to realize they are chaneling Nick Burns of SNL. When I first met one of my clients he griped that their existing MSP used Google all the time to solve issues onsite. I quickly explained it was necessary - being good does not necessarily mean knowning everything, it means knowing how to find the answer and implement the solution. They remain my favorite client. Never never make your customers feel stupid and always make them feel comfortable talking to you. Otherwise, they'll find someone else.

dbecker
dbecker

That's right. IBM Mainframe support has given up trying to keep their own search engine current. They've told us [and especially in classes they hold] to use Google instead of their website. Of course the information is on their website, it's just that they themselves can't find it and Google can. If you think I am dissatisified with IBM support, you'd be completely wrong. When I finally get a problem I can't solve I submit an Electronic Tracking Record and they respond very quickly and usually have the answer right away. Level 2 often calls back within an hour or two. It's great support and one which I have never found with other vendors [who, incidently, often don't seem to know their products]. Now then, after having said that.... "We found the problem right away!" It was like this: The GIS servers had a setting turned on which, in turn, caused a lot network collisions on the subnet. The network engineer blamed the IBM Mainframe [which was an innocent victim in all this]. The desperate engineer went to the GIS support guy who then went to Google with the error message and found the solution in less than a minute. After the GIS guy found the error and changed the setting he had turned on, the problems went away and the network engineer got an award from his group for solving the problem. It's among the most narcissistic things he's done, even with his telling me in front of a group with a manager present, "You old people can't understand the technology". I wonder if we have some sort of interpretation for that little phrase. Anyway, I have one thing I tell my customers to share with you: "You weren't listening". And that, friends, needs no translation.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Having working in IT support both before and after Google came to be, I wonder about its effect on techs. Are techs tempted to learn less because they can Google an answer? Is the amount of knowledge required for IT support just too large for any one person to fully understand, therefore making Google (and other search engines) a necessity? I'm not sure there's a completely right or wrong answer. Perhaps it depends on the individual tech's motivation. What do you think?

h.toms
h.toms

... which actually means "s#!t I've recently changed some configuration setting without realising that might be a consequence - I'd better change it back"

jeffbeall
jeffbeall

"Can you tell me the computer name from the properties page?" Meaning, your voice is familiar but I can't figure out who you are and I'm not going to ask because it will make you feel bad that I don't remember you, but I can at least narrow it down to a site by using your computer name.

Super_sonix
Super_sonix

how about these errors: Problem In Chair, Not In Computer Problem Exists Between Chair And Computer

kadybee
kadybee

I called Acer tech support as an end user and THEY told ME to Google it!! True story! As a helpdesk operator of over 15 years, I couldn't believe it. Don't have a need to call them anymore after that .. won't touch their product because of that lack of support.

Support Slug
Support Slug

I answer the phone the same exact way every time, same tone of voice and everything, yet, surprisingly enough for you, different people behave differently. To their knowledge, I am behaving in a friendly and professional manner. Has nothing to do with me how other people behave during a call. Truth is, you have no idea how I act at work. You are assuming simply from what you've seen here in a totally unrelated environment. You're quite mistaken. Why don't I come down to your work and harass you while you are cooking my fries and see how you like it?

john.mantsch
john.mantsch

Slug: Have you stopped to think that it is you that perpetuates the angry responses from users? They are already angry their stuff is not working. Why would you compound that anger by your unprofessional responses, attitude, and disrespect? If you TRULY wanted it to end, you would give courteous, respectful service and replies users and fellow support professionals. It has to start and stop somewhere, and as long as you continue down the same path, it simply will never stop.

Support Slug
Support Slug

Smiling to someone's face while stabbing them in the back. Yeah, I can be just as diplomatic as the next guy. If they complain, it's better. A principle will read the ticket and be made aware of the client's behavior. Usually when someone is flying off the handle, they are trying to avoid something such as being blamed or paying for their service or for not getting their work done because they waited until the last minute. I've been calling customer service lines forever and I've always found that treating people kindly will make them want to do the right thing. Treating people like crap is only going to make people want to screw you over. You people get your panties in a bundle when I act abusive here, but then you try to excuse client behavior with idiotic comments like "that's the name of the game".

snideley59
snideley59

In a tech support role, you need to use diplomacy. This is defined as being able to tell a person to go to hell in such a way that they are looking forward to the trip. Being abrasive, abrupt, or superior taints the fact that you actually fixed the problem. You get an end user with a resolved problem that is pissed off at you for the way they were treated. Not cool

Support Slug
Support Slug

"Honestly how the hell did you end up as an IT tech with an attitude like that???" Where the hell do you think I got this attitude??? Honestly, if you need to stab things with a screwdriver to deal with your anger, you should seek a qualified therapist. Instead, you should just antagonize users on TechRepublic like I do. It's more fun and provides valuable feedback.

Support Slug
Support Slug

"If so, IT support may not be the career for you. It's true that end-users can be angry, rude, and down right abusive. But that's the name of the game." Actually, its not the name of the game and it is moronic comments like that that perpetuates the myth that it's acceptable. "And if you deduced that my time in IT was minimal from a single tongue-in-cheek video on end-user/IT communication'" I've been reading TechRepublic a long time. I remember when it actually was a site for technicians... NOT a place for users to come bellyache about Windows Vista blah blah blah like it is now. The quality of this site has declined. It seems to me that your objective is vomiting up pablum that's palatable for users and which will increase your popularity with the masses. You are no longer a writer for techs. You should be writing for PC Magazine. This article is less tongue-in-cheek and more lips-to-butt of your technophobe readers.

Support Slug
Support Slug

"you have got to remember that they don't all have the time to learn how to use the computer" That is the kind of thinking that keeps people from actually taking the class, learning what a file tree is, what a Start Menu is, what right-clicking is. These are simple tasks that you should know if 100% of your job is performed on a computer. Duh. Seems obvious to me. "Do you have time to go to charm school?" No need. I already know which fork to use. "Half of being a support technician is being a therapist - people are pissed off and they want to vent and it falls on you rightly or wrongly but it's part of the job." In fact, you're wrong. Many companies have different ways of dealing with it, but it's never acceptable to be abusive to technicians and it needs to go out of vogue. I've worked at places that will even allow the technician to hang up on the abusive. Of course, I'm too much of an antagonist to hang up on someone who is already irritated. Maybe with a little help from me, I can prompt a shooting rampage. "your in the wrong profession" My metrics say differently. "you may want to look into becoming a developer" Borrrrrinnnnngggggg. I'd rather go to Afghanistan.

Shirokit
Shirokit

As many have already stated there is way to much information for any one person to remember. I know as I work in the R&D department of my IT company and get allot of requests to find solutions to the strangest problems that the entire office full of IT techs cant figure out. There is those that try and cheat their way in the IT field by using Google for even the most basic things. They how ever get caught out easily when they have to explain something technical to someone that actually knows something. Computers constantly evolve at a insane speed. New hardware / drivers / programs / updates / Viruses ect. All of witch has the potential to create new and unknown errors, if Google wasn?t there we would have been left waiting for someone to figure it out print a book and then somehow be included in the training of the next IT techs. Think of it this way. Witch is better? The client sits for 2 weeks while you try and figure out what key in the registry is causing the strange non standard application they use to function incorrectly or a day on Google.

Shirokit
Shirokit

Honestly how the hell did you end up as an IT tech with an attitude like that??? or are you one of those self proclaimed IT pros who did their IT diploma in Photoshop? Users venting their anger at the techs is probably the first thing they warn you about at any decant IT training facility. Do as I do. Ether just ignore what their saying, vent your anger on your phone headpiece, Squash a stressball to the point of bursting, stab a cardboard box. If the user turns really personal with their insults tell them to call you back when their in a better mood because the way their acting only helps to prolong the problem they have and then report it to your supervisor or ask them if they want to talk to your supervisor you will be amazed at how fast their attitude changes when they have to talk to someone higher up. I have an entire box full of snapped headpieces before I discovered the therapeutic help of a cardboard box and screwdriver.

lloyd.frazier
lloyd.frazier

There is nothing wrong with using Google as a resource. Being resourceful is part of being a good technician. Even though you find the solution on Google, you still need to know all your fundamentals to apply it. I have been in the software implementation field for many years and I still learn new things nearly every day.

service
service

I don't really think that this is even a good question. Technology and hardware change so rapidly that calling Google a crutch seems ridiculous to me. I have a pesonal viewpoint that I often share when it comes to support and tech: I do not need to feel like I personally knew the answer to any issue. Let the truth stand on its own. I think a real problem that a lot of technicians have (especially the young ones) is that they want to feel like they know the answer to a problem and they are just that good. As far as I am concerned, any technician who does not use ALL available resources to address a problem is not a good tech. I recently had a notebook that was just inexplicably dying on me. One minute we are fine and the next a black screen. I suspected a heat related issue. If I had not used Google, I would not have had a tenth of the confidence I had that my suspicions are correct. YES use Google! The sooner the better....

zynn
zynn

I like the power tools comment Chris! That is the perfect analogy!

sfisher
sfisher

Just because one takes the MCSE, Cisco and/or Linux classes does not mean that one knows how to fix the problems that arise in the computer. These cert classes are meant to teach one to use and configure THAT program/system, not to troubleshoot incompatibility problems, which are the most common. Google is definitely not a crutch - it's a tool. I work as the sole IT support person in a small company (~100 users), and there is no way that I can know everything about each of the servers, appliances, programs, PC's, etc. and every incompatibility that can (and usually will) arise. Google is often my Godsend because I can [usually] find an answer/fix quickly which is key for me. I don't have all day. If I don't know the answer, I'll usually tell them that "I'll have to research that". Meaning "I'll have to Google that".

azmichaelm
azmichaelm

That's an interesting question. I also have worked long before Google came into existence and I use it alot today. The tech still needs the troubleshooting skills and technical knowledge to find the correct answer and understand how to implement the correction. I would much rather have a tech look up the problem on Google than have the familiar blanket response... oh, lets' just wipe the drive and reinstall.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Support Slug, It seems as if you have a ton of pent-up anger toward your customers. If so, IT support may not be the career for you. It's true that end-users can be angry, rude, and down right abusive. But that's the name of the game. Perhaps you should check out my 2006 podcast - Communication tips that improve end-user/IT relations: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=134 Oh. And if you deduced that my time in IT was minimal from a single tongue-in-cheek video on end-user/IT communication, I suggest you turn in your junior detective decoder ring.

Becca Alice
Becca Alice

Don't be front-line if you don't love people enough to get over it when they are human.

dryflies
dryflies

How can we be expected to know all of the myriad of possible problems our clients can have. different combinations of installed software most of which have their own defects that can spill over onto the behavior of other programs. For example. A desktop continuous backup program bluescreens a computer because the draconian ant piracy software in another program crashes the PC for trying to copy a license file that uit has cleverly hidden in the user's profile folders. I do not have the capacity to remember every issue so I rely on a few things. My own knowledge base built on my helpdesk SW. Vendor support sites, and google. actually, vendor support sites do not do to much good where interactions are concerned. they're to busy pointing fingers to figure out root cause and the work around is generally don't use their business critical software while you are using our business critical software.

dsmith
dsmith

I was asked to speak to my son's high school computer technology class. I think the instructor was offended when I told her class that if they didn't like dealing with people then maybe IT was not a good place for them. Lets face it, when you work IT, whether its a phone bank or field work, when the customer calls they're allready upset. half of your job is to calm them down and listen to their problem, find the root cause and fix it. Twenty years in this business has proven to me that developing your "people" skills is just as important as keeping up your "tech" skills.

seanm
seanm

John I agree with almost everything you said. the exception is that becoming a developer will not (at least in my experience) limit you interaction with people. It will just change the people you are dealing with. In tech support the end goal is clear, get it working and that?s it. In development projects the ?end game? or even next milestone can move in a flash. Managers and stakeholders (not the development managers the other ones) in development projects often have no idea what impact the ?simple change? they are asking for has on development schedules and are all too often willing to start flinging mud when they find out. Point being in All areas of IT people skills are important. Maybe more important the then Tech skills.

John.Schupp
John.Schupp

While it is true that users can be annoying particularly on support calls, you have got to remember that they don't all have the time to learn how to use the computer. Do you have time to go to charm school? I think that maybe you should consider a career change if your job is causing you this much angst. This article may have been tongue-in-cheek even campy... but your attitude is the attitude of somebody who isn't going to advance very far beyond the position of end user support. Half of being a support technician is being a therapist - people are pissed off and they want to vent and it falls on you rightly or wrongly but it's part of the job. I'm sure anybody who has ever worked a tech support role has muted their mic and either started cussing at the user or had an inner monologue that would make any Marine proud. But that isn't something to brag about - and through watching IT-Dojo I have learned quite a few interesting things even though I left end user support and went on to Engineering a long while ago. People may have decided that treating you or other service people like crap is the way to better service but isn't it your responsibility as a person not just as a technician to be the better person and let them just be a jack-ass if that is what they have decided to do? If the answer is no, your in the wrong profession and you may want to look into becoming a developer or something where there less end-user interface.

Support Slug
Support Slug

What I say isn't as important as what I don't say. How about "take a computer class". If a computer figures highly in getting your job done, don't you think you should learn how to use it? Maybe even take the software tutorials? Seems obvious to me. How about, "shut up and let me work." How am I supposed to concentrate on your problem with you running your mouth the whole time? You don't need to know why I configured your browser the way I do and, regardless how tech savvy you think you are, you haven't got the background to understand it anyway. How about, "this isn't the complaint department, dick." We are here to fix your computer and your venting doesn't help. Send an email to someone who gets paid to listen to you whine and let the techs work. Somehow in this country, people have decided that treating service agents like crap is going to get them better service. Guess what. It isn't. Start effing with me while I am up to my elbows in your computer. Maybe it's not a coincidence your computer keeps failing. Maybe you're just antagonizing the wrong person. So, next time you call for support, explain as briefly as possible what your issue is and then shut up and let us work. At the end of the call, surprise the hell out of your tech and say thank you. PS - Bill, from this article, I can tell the time you spent in IT, if any, must have been minimal. I'm demoting you back to the position of user. Try writing something insightful next time.

TechRepublic
TechRepublic

You can't know all of the system errors, related error messages, and the function of all of the system files that cause software to complain when they are missing. If you get an error and you don't recognize filename as part of error message, you would be a fool not to Google it. It is not a shortcut, it is the express lane to the right answer. Having power tools doesn't make you a lazy carpenter. Chris

john
john

But I would say that Google has definitely helped me find solutions to problems that say a Company Knowledgebase hasn't come across yet. After Google or any search engine it makes me wonder what kind of effect it has had on a technology company's support (whether its phone, a support website, or any other form).

k_indy
k_indy

It's only a crutch for someone not interested in the advancement of their knowledge. Google helps me if I've never experienced a symptom b4 or if I'm having trouble getting rid of a pesky virus/malware. It also helps by helping me find out if something is a known issue/conflict and saves time in troubleshooting. But if you dont learn from the answer and have to search again the next time it occurs then it's just a crutch, there is no substitute for experience and training.

Becca Alice
Becca Alice

...We'll fill out a ticket! How do you spell your last name? Which really backfires if it's something like "Jones."

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