Fixing Technical Support

“Let’s try rebooting your computer” If you have ever provided or asked for technical support these words are familiar.  I recently had an issue that required some technical support and as I went through the process it reminded me of things I used to say and highlighted how frustrating those things are to the end user who just wants their problem fixed.

There is a process to troubleshooting an issue that all technical people are aware of; ask for symptoms, try to reproduce, identify issue and attempt to resolve.  It is a pretty standard thought process, so much so that many large organizations have scripted it.  While this might be efficient I believe this is also the cause of frustration in the end user.

Having recently gone through a technical issue as an end user with no system or admin access I was constantly asking why, what for, what’s going on.  I had no idea because the technicians weren’t telling me, I was in the dark, doing what they asked me to do without question.  Now I will take for granted that I am more technical than the average person and have a better chance of understanding what they might tell me but I question if you really need to tell people the technical details while still including them in the troubleshooting process.

As I went through this process I tried to understand why it might be frustrating for an end user.  I believe that not including the end user in the process is what causes the frustration.  And by including them in the process I don’t mean asking them what they think is wrong but keep them informed.  Not including them in the process leads to the feeling of them being the problem.

My issue was one of remote connectivity, I would connect via a VPN and be quarantined even though my system was up to date.  As I proceeded to check for updates, run tool XYZ, replace files, etc… I was never included in the loop as to what they believe the issue is and why I am doing what I they are asking me to do.  A simple “You system is not reporting it’s health properly so we need to identify why this is happening” would have been enough for me to understand what was going on while not being overly technical.  While I was performing different tests and tasks a simple explanation of why I was doing it and what the outcome should be would have been enough to make me feel like I was part of the process and not part of the problem.

Perhaps we need to be more inclusive and work with end users to solve their problems?  How often have you been on a support call and found out a crucial piece of information afterwards when the user says something?  Or had the user “just try something” that lead to more information or even a resolution.  While most end users are not usually as technically gifted as you or I they are the ones sitting in front of the screen with full access to the system.  Try including them in the troubleshooting process, inform them of what you think is the issue and what you are going to do to try and resolve it but remember to speak their language.

Just think how you would feel if your doctor was poking, prodding, drawing blood and the like but not telling you why 🙂

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