Last month, Jeff Dray’s “Five tips for improving help desk/client communication” highlighted the need for help desk techs to build a positive relationship with their clients. To help with this process, Dray offered the following five suggestions:
- Gain your user's confidence and trust
- Go one step at a time
- Check understanding
- Use jargon to your advantage
In response to these suggestions, TechRepublic members replied in force with comments on Jeff’s article and their own ideas on improving help desk/client communication. Unfortunately, due to the volume of feedback, it's not possible to publish every response. However, I believe I have presented the best balance of all the submissions.
In Response offers a weekly roundup of feedback from TechRepublic members intended to help inform you and your peers about critical issues in the world of IT. This week, TechRepublic members share their opinions and ideas on the best ways to improve help desk/client communication.
TechRepublic members respond
Vicki L.: Use analogies they'll understand
“I've been in PC end-user support for a few years. Some of my users are more techno-savvy than others. For the ones who are showing signs of ‘PC fear,’ I try to describe what I'm doing in terms of processes they would understand, such as the use of road maps in explaining the Windows 9x or NT directory structure, or memory in terms of ‘horsepower’ for the PC applications. It's amazing to see the light bulb go off over the heads of these users when they realize that computers are not necessarily objects to fear and hate. I learned long ago that most of my users have skills they're expert in, and I respect that; but at the same time, I'm happy to increase their knowledge base just a little.”
Anita E.: Don’t take an angry user personally
“I really appreciate your article on Help Desk tips and how to speak to the client. Also, I would like to state that when on the Help Desk, do not take an angry client as being angry at you, the Help Desk Support person. I have over seven years as a Technical Support Help Desk, and most of my training was on the job. Some people are upset when they call and are angry, but no one should take it personally, as it is not directed at you, the Help Desk Support person, but at their frustration at not having their system working. Your article is great. Also, you need to start with the basics so that you do not waste your time or the client’s by checking the connections or seeing if the system has power. I worked with one client who said his printer did not work, and I came to find out he had cut the printer network cable to move it closer to his computer.”
Marcia V.: Leave the user smarter than before
“Jeff has written a great article, and I have only one thing to add. After providing end-user support at a second and third level for six years in three completely different environments, I have one credo I try to work by every day: ‘Leave the customer feeling smarter than he or she did when I first began to help with their problem.’ I have great rapport with the end users I support, all 1,000+ of them, and look forward to coming to work every day, due in part to the philosophy of leaving them smarter than when I arrived.”
Click here to join the discussion on Jeff Dray’s five tips for improving help desk/client communication.
Woody W.: Our business is customer support
“I must agree with each and every one of your points. Unfortunately, a large majority of people in the IT Industry are ‘legends in their own mind,’ which doesn’t promote a very good customer report. Great example, for those of you who caught 'The Computer Guy' skit on Saturday Night Live (11/11/2000). The characters portrayed, for the most part, were accurate. That attitude will be our industry's downfall, for if it weren’t for those end users, we wouldn't have jobs. Our business is customer support, to allow that end user to be productive. Being productive is profitable; therefore, in the big picture of things, the technician contributes to the profit margin. Being a ‘humble’ technician will help you more than hurt you as a service professional.”
John H.: Think before you speak
“I agree wholeheartedly with the tips in Jeff's article. I'd also like to add how important it is that you think about what you say before you say it. I've had two experiences this last week where I said something that I thought would be either explanatory or reassuring to the user, only to have my supervisor tell me they complained to her that I was being rude and belittling! I started working the help desk about five months ago and since then I've received two written compliments for my customer service. I haven't changed my modus operandi this past week, but one misinterpreted phrase can bring down the user's wrath.”
Bob W.: Don’t treat the caller as an annoyance
“I believe that if you treat your caller as a person and not an annoyance, this helps in the process. I try to teach the caller something they didn't know before they called. This way, the caller goes away feeling they have learned something new and useful.”
Share your secrets for positive help desk/client communication with your fellow TechRepublic members. Post a comment below or send us a note.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
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 support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.