IT Policies

Ten rules to keep tech support sane

Patience

Help desk work requires far more than just knowing how to sort out a user's computer problems. If you think you have what it takes to succeed as a remote support specialist, see how you stack up against the 10 tenets that I list here. They are designed to help you understand exactly what it takes to enjoy a long career in this field.

Patience
If you've done any remote support, you'll know that users can really tax your patience. I have actually had users seize control of the mouse from me while I am trying to solve their problem - just so they could compose an email.

Many users seem to think their problem is the only one you have to deal with and prevent you from working efficiently. Some of them struggle with the terminology needed to communicate their problem to you. It is essential to have patience in reserve when dealing with these types of people. Not only will your patience help them, it will keep your blood pressure down.

Photo credit: programwitch/Flickr

For more read 10 tenets that will help remote support techs succeed (and stay sane) by TechRepublic's Jack Wallen. This gallery was republished from ZDNet UK.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

11 comments
uberlist
uberlist

I agree the feedback should be balanced lest the environment become one of rewarding the best of the worst. People tend to lower standards when there is no real accountability. My take. RM Globalbench Inc. Get the Job. Get the Raise. Get the Promotion. www.globalbench.com

voidgere
voidgere

I agree with everything said here except for "Give praise but never scold" [paraphrase]. If you are willing to accept the uplifting words of praise for doing a job well done, then you need to be ready to endure a stern lashing when you screw up. If all you ever do is praise someone, they will nto be afraid to screw up. Screwing up will happen but when you have no accountability then the user will take even bigger risks. The risk taking will continue to climb until they finally reach a threshold that endangers the system or network. No, praise them for actions that deserve it but do not spare the rod when they screw up.

tsjoshi77
tsjoshi77

Well, Some user from Accounts dept. call me and told me that his Tally Printer is not workong(Accounting software in India). When I really go their and find out that actually he is printing from Tally software to HP Leaser 5200 and the paper was stuck in Leaser printer. Well actually I was laugh about him and myself.

roblol
roblol

The most productive thing I have ever done was start to blog about it. I know tech support blogs are a bit over done with people complaining about computer illiteracy so I try to focus on the idiocy in general. Everyone likes to think they're smarter than idiots, so I'm not really discriminating against any single audience. It seems to be working out very well.

lynnjo
lynnjo

Doing remote support over a cellphone, used to burn by ear. I remember spending over an hour helping out a classmate and afterwards I swore my ear got a frost bite. (This bit is a bit haha funny as I'm from the caribbean where there's no snow). . In general, Guiding non-techie people to check for certain signs are what was a bit challenging to me seeing that I couldn't call it by the technological name. So instead of saying: "Double click on the computer icon" Imagine saying "Take the mouse and move it until the arrow on the screen is over a picture called My Computer. Press Once on the left side of the mouse with the arrow is over the picture. On the keyboard, look for the button marked with the word enter and press it once." Just my thoughts

loudomvis
loudomvis

Once spent about 7-10 minutes trying to explain to a user over the phone where her Start button was. What made it worse-she didn't know what OS she had. Since we have only XP and Win 7, i told her that it is either a green button with the word Start on it or a little blue button with the Windows logo on it at bottom left of her screen. The Windows logo part threw her off even more. She finally found it.

Snak
Snak

.... being able to remember what it's like not to know.

ARandomPenguin
ARandomPenguin

'To catch a wolf you have to be a wolf'. In this case, to help a user, you have to BE a user. well, maybe not in that strict definition but you have to understand HOW they talk. I like to spend time with some end users (friends) learning what how they talk about computer problems. 'My hard-drive is dead' can mean, 'my desktop isnt turning on'. they may need computers but some of them certainly dont want to learn about them. ps. First :)

michael_boardman
michael_boardman

"My computer doesn't have a key marked 'Enter'", you have to embark on the process of "Well, it's a big key with a funny looking backward arrow on it, no no, that's the backspace delete key; oh, you just deleted all your document? Well, press Ctrl Z, no, both together..." and so on. You know how it goes (sigh). Love 'em to bits, really, as we would be out of a job without 'em!

spdragoo
spdragoo

Ugh, I remember that, when working on FiOS tech support. Since certain troubleshooting steps were different depending on the Windows version, it was sometimes a challenge figuring out which one they had. Me: "What operating system do you have?" Customer: "Windows, of course!" Me: "Thank you, sir/ma'am, & which version of Windows is it?" Customer: "I don't know, they're all the same to me." Me: (internally sighing) "OK, here's what we're going to do..."

spdragoo
spdragoo

Yeah, although I tend to call it the "return" key first -- result of growing up when typewriters were as or more available than PCs. That sometimes confused peoople, since almost no keyboards label it "return" anymore...