Tales from the Desktop: Fix my Internet!

As support technicians, we must remember that what may not appear to be a problem to us can be a major dilemma for an end user. Brenda Dial recalls a situation where she encountered such a user and learned a valuable lesson.

Did you know that changing the way a desktop or program looks could be a traumatic experience for an end user? While the change doesn’t affect a support or help desk tech, the end users are usually left out in the cold, wondering what has happened. One instance of this type of end-user trauma is the topic of this Tales from the Desktop.
Fix my Internet!
Recently, I was asked by a manager in another department to help her fix “the Internet.” As I headed to her office, I went over some of the many possible problems that might be at the root of her situation.

I thought of the various protocols that might have been changed, thus preventing her from accessing the Internet. I considered network access or logins that might have been inadvertently missed or bypassed. I also thought that the icon she used to open her Web browser might have been deleted or moved, and she couldn’t find it anymore. Any of these problems, and possibly many others, could prevent her from accessing the Internet.

Everything is wrong …
When I got to her office, I found her hunkered down in her chair, fighting the mouse and furiously clicking at the screen. When I took a look at her monitor, I saw that the home page of the Web browser was open and ready to use. I began to walk away, thinking that surely whatever had been wrong was now fixed.

However, I had only taken a step or two before I heard, “Don’t leave! Fix my Internet. It’s not working.” I took another look, and everything still seemed fine to me. “What are you talking about?” I asked her. “Is the screen frozen? Is your computer locked up?” She looked up at me as if I had gone completely bonkers. “No,” she explained, “It’s not working. Everything is wrong. Look at the top!” I leaned in closer to see what she meant.

The browser was running correctly and would access sites as fast as the T-1 line would allow. However, this was not the problem. I now saw that the Web browser’s toolbars had been altered. The toolbar had been compressed into a single button and moved below the address bar. It took only a couple of seconds to correct the problem. I clicked on the offending toolbar and moved it back above the address bar where it belonged. The bar settled in and adjusted itself, just as if it had always been there.

The department manager became overwhelmed with joy. “You did it!” she exclaimed, “You fixed the Internet! You really fixed the Internet! I can actually use it now.” I left her office in disbelief. It was hard to grasp that a simple thing—a toolbar—could bring the entire Internet to a grinding halt. This, however, brings us to the moral of the story.

So what did I learn?
Sometimes, things that IT professionals take for granted may bewilder and confuse novice end users. Solutions to rather simple problems can mean more to these people than support technicians can sometimes understand.

It is important to see things through the eyes of the individuals we are helping. For those individuals, they can’t work, they can’t function, and they can’t play until the situation is remedied and their favorite program is running as it once was. We have to put the toolbars back so that life can continue on as planned. Without us, the Internet is broken and has to be fixed!
Have you ever encountered an end user with a problem that you never would have considered to be a cause for concern? Tell us about it. Post a comment below or send us an e-mail.

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