In a recent blog, I took a poll asking for votes on the biggest user support challenge. The winner was, “People: Users are too demanding, hard to work with, etc.” What’s the best way to deal with that challenge?


About four weeks ago, I wrote a blog asking people to submit their vote for what they thought presented the biggest challenge for user support professionals. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but issues dealing with people seem to present the biggest user support challenge.

Out of five possible answers (six if I count other), 30 percent of the respondents indicated as much. If we factor in the second most selected answer, Management: Lack of support, training, flexibility, etc. from management, which generated 25 percent of the answers, more than half of the answers involve issues dealing with people — either users or management.

Personally, I would answer that keeping up with the latest and greatest technology is my biggest challenge, but that’s just me. Nonetheless, I thought I’d explore some people issues and throw it out for discussion.

I don’t think any of the users I support are overly demanding, but supporting a small office is different than other environments. Perhaps bigger offices tend to be less friendly. And supporting users in multiple locations would certainly be different, especially if it’s done on a consulting-type basis.

I suppose for me, different people require different approaches. What works for one, might not work for another. What one person considers simple might confuse another. Different levels of comfort, expertise, and knowledge are just part of the gig. One person might know that a certain error message is harmless. Another person, however, might be stopped dead in her tracks for fear of doing something wrong. Setting up something like a vacation reply might be easy for most people, but some users seem to struggle with the steps and ask that it be done for them.

I suppose I try to support the person, not necessarily the technology. And I never talk down to people. In fact, some people might even talk down about themselves and their lack of understanding, but I’ll always dismiss such talk and tell them it’s not a big deal.

How do you deal with the people issues? Do you have any people horror stories?

Management issues might open up a whole different can of worms — one I might save for a future blog. (Feel free to comment on your management issues, however; it could generate some interesting comments and dialogue.)

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