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User Criticism - Am I alone?

By TomSal ·
I need some peer feedback on this one that irks me a bit, even though deep inside I feel I shouldn't be irked by it.

Here's quick background first: We are a small company, about 80 users now with nearly 100 computers to support. We are lead by sales people at the top, so they don't really understand the whole MIS/IT thing to begin with (they openly admit this). Tomorrow I go before the CEO, the Presdient and the VP of MIS for my latest raise which puts me on par with the pay level of some managers in the company. I've been told that, "while there's no question in your skill or intellect on networking or hardware in general. Some people feel you are too blunt and are intimated to come to you." Considering that I am a "too the facts" kinda person I guess its not too far off to suggest directness. Now, that said, 90% of our users are $10/hour or less employees and possess little to no computer experience at all. I am the sole person who provides support to the entire company. I someone to do simple things like toner changes, but everything else is on me. I have a strong hunch of the select users who view me as "blunt and intimatidating" - they would need considerable training to know how to use Explorer and the basic functions of Win98. Thus frustration because they call me as much as 4-8 times a day on very basic problems. So I do get frustrated at times. The problem is management doesn't see what I deal with therefore they think its like a personal problem I have or something. The majority of the users I have a good MIS/User relationship with.

What's your input? I feel alone here being the only true tech in a company of poorly trained PC users/bean counters and sales people.

Thanks for your advice/comments.

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Hard to tell at a distance

by generalist In reply to User Criticism - Am I alo ...

It is hard to tell if the criticism is accurate or not based on what you have written. I'm assuming that you haven't lost your temper dealing with the problem users or anything like that.

I can more than emphasize with having to deal with peoplewho just don't get it. But, knowing that people vary, I try my best to treat them with an upbeat attitude in all my contacts with them. I also try to help them help themselves as opposed to doing things for them. While it takes longer, it will sink in if they do it often enough.

Of course, there are some people who are very good at what they do yet very bad at remembering computer basics. These people may need 'cheat sheets' customized to their specific problems.

You can even use the 'cheat sheets' as a way of reconnecting with the problem users if you do it right. When they call you about a problem, join forces with them and work together to create the 'cheat sheet' for that problem. The result will be something they did for themselves using terms that they understand. (You just helped them with the technical part.)

I hope this helps. The fact that you're concerned about the criticism shows that you care about your users.

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Get used to it

by devin.ellis In reply to User Criticism - Am I alo ...

I am half of a 2 person support team for 200+ users. This is the corporate headquarters which houses people such as the CEO, CIO, CMO, CFO, etc. Most of them know nothing about computers, and whatever their problem is, it needs to be fixed NOW! I have found out that unless you kiss major butt, you're seen as being "unapproachable" and mean. And let me tell you, word gets around very quickly. To cover yourself you need to be as nice as possible and hold their hands if necesarry. Also, they feel intimidated because you know things that they don't, which is not good for their ego. In short, be nice, smile and do what you have to do. Then put out your resume.

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Training

by Terry Slavens In reply to Get used to it

We have the same problem here. We use SMS and numerous times I have remote controlled the workstation and actually talked the user through what needs to be done. By letting the user do the work it seems to help them to understand what is going on.

We have also documented numerous Computer Tips & Tricks and have placed them in a public email folder where users can go if they have questions.

The above items have helped a great deal and cut down on our help desk support calls.

You're always going to have some that just don't want to learn the computer and they just want to get their work done. No way to get away from that.

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Turn a problem into a solution...

by Packratt In reply to User Criticism - Am I alo ...

I've been where you are at and I understand the frustration. I don't think that it's quite fair to expect you to be the most personable person in the world when hammered by simple user issues all day, even a saint would likely lose patience after 20calls about how to double click.

But, instead of explaining the PROBLEM to your management you should go in explaining a SOLUTION that will help everyone involved, including yourself. Perhaps if you suggested training sessions for users that are either manditory or perhaps complimentory training sessions that you could lead for users to attend if they are interested in learning more about the technology that will become more important to their lives in the future.

The point is, if you go in to the meeting complaining about a problem, even if it's a justified problem that isn't you fault, you will be looked at in a negative light, that's how management is... However, if you go in with a solution or a way to do things better then you will be looked at as a person who finds solutions, a problem solver and you might just get that pomotion or raise that you are after.

However... Your management may find another excuse for refusing you if they just don't want to spend the money. It's still worth the effort anyways, if only for your ego's sake.

Good luck!

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Customer Service.

by admin In reply to User Criticism - Am I alo ...

Your users need your services, even if they are frustrated. Would you go to an automotive repair shop that did great service, but gave you a bad time for leaving your emergency brake on etc.? Do we pick shops to deal with based on price and ability alone? No. We like to get the invisible, the intangible, the service along with the sale.

Customer service is taught in most organizations, but somehow IT departments are often not included and it shows. All companies should teach Customer Service to their internal shops, after all, these days your internal customers are as important as your external customers.

It's ok to laugh and vent with your peers who understand as long as you realize that bottom line these users pay your salary, anda big part of how large your salary gets in many organizations is tied to how the users see you. I know it's really hard to deal with stupid things over and over sometimes, but sit back and breath in for a minute and realize that this is what they want as your customers. This is what they are willing to show their appreciation for in monetary respect for your services.

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A Serious Credibility ISsue

by colink In reply to User Criticism - Am I alo ...

You have a problem - let's be straight up about it.
You also have users with problems, and a management that faces a credibility problem.
Ok, lets take a look. BTW I have been there, done that.
Your problem basically centres around the fact that you do not percieve yourself as a customer support person. You have been doing the job for a while now, and really enjoy the technical challenges. But constant interuptions really get to you, and at the end of each day you are in a stressed, tired state, and vaguely unhappy about it all.
The problems your users have are reasonable, from their point of view, and nothing you say will change that. They have developed a perception of you that is not helpful either way, and if another person, however iept,came along they would sing his/her praises to you.
Management obviously reaslises the value/investment they have tied up in computers, and that supporting them is valuable. The problem is they need more value than technical alone, and you aren't providing it to them.

OK, so far the bad news. Now for the good news. In asking the question you have shown you wish to think outside the square to achieve real solutions to real issues and to the transparent, repetitive ones as well.
Take a deep breath because what I am going to propose is a major change for you, and will require all your power of reason to see through. I know!

Read on the next part...

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The Credibility Issue - Part 2

by colink In reply to A Serious Credibility ISs ...

The first part to tackle is your own aspirations. You obviously enjoy the company you work for on the whole. It is offering enough challenges to meet your needs for ongoing technical development. But consider your personal aspirations. Have you everundertaken a course on management? If you did through a degree then I recommend you consider a pure 1-week in-depth course just on management alone. This will enable you to meet your management on their turf, not your techie one. Putting in a request for this will, all by itself, start to change management perception of you as capable of something more than a techie.
Next consider how you handle calls from your customers. Log them, and put categories against them. If you can then create a database for logging, and create regular weekly/monthly reports showing the most common call types. Use this with your HR people to get them to talk to managers etc with real facts in hand about training. Over time you will gain support and identify consistent 'blockers' to HR and in turn to management. This way you show support, not negativity.
Finally consider your role, and the style you bring to the role. Get in touch with an image consultant and totally go through your entire wardrobe, hose, desk, working environment and revamp it. It is amazing how keeping a small photograph on your desk can change other peoples perceptions of you to a caring considerate person. And that's what you want to have.

All this is common sense, but it is hadto drain the swamp when you are up to your armpits in alligators.

I'd like to hear how you get on.

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Thanks for the Feedback

by TomSal In reply to The Credibility Issue - P ...

I appreciate your feedback first of all. I spoke at length with my VP and one of the manager's today about these very issues you discuss. Trying to see both sides of the fence I asked them point blank how they think I could make MIS support a more productive and welcoming experience for the users.

Their point: You should mix better with the multiple personalities in the company and try and view the situation through the users eyes more and deal with it that way.

My point: My by the factsdirectness is apart of my character, for me to say I won't be direct is a bold face lie. I can't change that anymore than I can change myself from having blue eyes - without the use of man made inventions that is.

I did say however, I will try my best to be more patient and work harder to develop new methods of approach to end users.

Finally, I state the reasons for my frustrations with some users over others as simply they don't listen or they never provide enough information (even when directly asked for it).

We all have character flaws, Lord knows the same users critiqing my bluntness are the same people I could rattle off weaknesses about them - some less severe than my own and some way more severe than my own.

Bottomline, I'm willing to work harder to accomodate the users but I'm also not going to take the stand of the ownis is all on me and none is on the users either. And that's the one thing that aggravates me too, is while not all people see it that way, a few people here give me the impression its all my problem alone. I just don't think they truly understand because I refuse to accept its all me and none of them.

Thank you for your information, I am taking your advice to heart.

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Document Everything

by marshallkeithusa In reply to Thanks for the Feedback

I have worked iv verious capacities from
broadcast Engineer to IT. And one thing I
have learned is document everything. There
will always be managers that try to put the
blame on you . . .That puts you on the
defensive and they think that it will get you
to back off. Show them the documentation of
that you have to deal with . . . remember
they are responsible to hire competant people
and that includes sales people. And it is
their managers that are responsible for their
training not you. I have told more than one
manager "Lack of planning on your part does
not constitute an emergency on my part." And
I have outlasted a lot of managers. If they
are not able to hire capable help or train
them properly than they are notcompatent
managers . . . Period the key is Documentation.

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Training, support, response

by JustinF In reply to User Criticism - Am I alo ...

I am a sole network administrator too for a similar size company. You need to discuss with your supervisors and HR as to what is required of you. Tell them outright that you don't have time to be babysitting and give them a list of users you feel could do with training. I try and keep users at a distance, if they come to your door with problems then you are expected to be at everyone's beck and call and you get nothing done. I have implemented a help desk mailbox and custom forms for reporting most problems and requirements. If the problem is urgent then they can phone me and I will give them a response time. Create some help sheets and training material and publish it on the intranet. Print lists of do's and don'ts and how to's and give acopy to each department or section. Maybe run lunchtime training sessions on common tasks.

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