Let's face it, if you can describe things in a way that the end user can comprehend, you can often get to the bottom of a problem without the need for a site visit.
In my employment an avoided site visit can mean a huge cash and time saving and gets the customer back at work a lot more quickly.
An example occurred today; I was at a customer site in Berkshire, trying to sort out a corrupted hard disk, when a call came in for a franking machine in Wiltshire, about 85 miles away. It was a problem that is well known on this particular machine and takes seconds to sort out, a dirty sensor that prevents mail from being franked.
The fix is the equivalent of the spitty handkerchief that our mothers used in the old days whenever they saw, or thought they saw a speck of dirt on our otherwise angelic faces, so I called the client and explained what was needed to be done. I sold the remote fix by explaining that I couldn't get there today, only being able to attend later the next day. I spoke to a lady who insisted on passing me to a man who was "technical." I talked him through the process and promised to call in an hour to see how he got on.
When I called back I was highly amused when he said that it was easy, just like when his mother used to wipe dirty marks off his face with a handkerchief.
The saving was a round trip of four hours and approximately 5 gallons of petrol, at UK prices that's about $50 for the fuel alone, not to mention the other jobs that I would not have been able to get to.
I managed it by being able to describe what was needed in a way that the end user could understand. Mail room operatives aren't known for their technical skills, it is often necessary to use vivid imagery to describe the fault. Fortunately the chap I spoke to followed my instructions and we cleared the fault.
I often find that people who aren't primarily technically minded often answer the question they think I have asked, rather than the one I actually asked. I see this as a communication miss on my part.
Usually it occurs when the customer does not think that the question I have asked isn't a technical one and decides to answer the one they thought they heard.
When speaking to the first customer I asked her if a certain error message appeared on the screen each time the mail failed to feed, after re-stating the question three times I discovered that this was the case, I then informed her that that it was an easy problem to fix.
I had to describe the process as she performed it, so that she could see what was happening.
When I managed to quote the exact error massage to her as it appeared we hit a key moment; that was when she trusted me and realised that I knew what I was doing. Before this she sounded doubtful and did not feel comfortable about fixing the fault herself. Getting a "Man" in is often a security blanket; I have often stood behind a customer and talked them through a simple fix and whenever I have done this I have felt that I have, in some small way, empowered some end users and given them a little more confidence.