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Re-Engineering the Helpdesk - Supporting users in a new world

By eviltwin in Op-Ed
Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 04:56:45 AM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)
Technology

How do we support users in today's Information Technology environments?
Is there a better way ?

Some insight and techniques i have used as an IT Manager to improve client support and perception of Information Technology as a whole.


How do you support clients in IT?

On the face of it this might look like a nonsensical question - the traditional basis is that a client rings a helpdesk and logs a call - which is handled to a support operative who then either resolves the call - or escalates it up to someone higher and so on. This is the traditional 'level' based support system - IE level 1, 2, 3 etc.

This system can work very effectively if you support a large environment and have the resource but in my mind it is inherently flawed - the system takes no notice of the most important thing - the client. It's focused on managing the internal resources of the department and drawing out statistics not on ensuring that at all levels the user is the priority.

Lets look at that - IT environments in corporate's follow some simple factors and can be divided up easily into simple categories or support streams.

  1. Desktop - normally a Standard Environment (SOE) which is common across the systems or group
  2. Login / File Print - User file storage and system access, their printers
  3. Applications - delivery of network applications (i.e. Citrix Metaframe)
  4. Database - Includes ERP like SAP etc
  5. Network and Web - Mail, Internet, network

This is a somewhat simplified list and it's important to note that this is what the client would see as it support, servers aren't something the client thinks about.

Notice that word client?

All too often in it support the attitude to users is negative, they forget passwords, lock accounts, lose files, install stuff they shouldn't etc. But the fact is that users are the reason we have a job in IT, without them there is nothing to support.

Let's look at that again.

The user is the reason YOU have a job!

Without users there is no system and no paycheck - we need them. Yet how many people in IT understand a user's perspective? How they think about things?
what their impression of IT is? The fact is not many of you and it drops as you go up the 'levels' (server guys for example dislike talking to users and avoid it where possible and management actively build walls to ensure a mere user cannot reach them (apparently they tarnish or something).

There are a few givens we can assume about users in and environment.

  • Users have limited technical knowledge
  • Users are not interested in computers - they are a tool for their job
  • Their jobs don't revolve around computers like yours
  • Any loss of time due to an issue impacts their job
  • They assume that you in IT support earn more than they do
  • They feel stupid for ringing IT as it means they admit they don't know what they are doing

There are many more but these are what I think are the most relevant points to understanding how to support people. The money issue is a major one in my opinion - for years the media has beaten up the wages and stock options and other benefits of IT support to the point where people assume we are all highly paid; this isn't true but it's an assumption they make and it does color their reaction.

The key to supporting users is empathy and understanding. You put yourself in their role - They might be a secretary with 20 things on the roll, they have letters to type, reports, meetings to book and a hundred other things, they may have 20 years in the office and have moved from typewriters to word processors to XT's with Word Perfect and now they have word 2000. Every one of them works differently. Every one has a million features they don't know. If this person is getting onto middle age (say 50+) they may have issues with technology eroding their job roles etc and as most people in IT support are under 30 they see you as a kid.

The key to effective support is understanding this and working with them. The biggest mistake you can make is assume they are dumb! Trust me 99% of secretaries you will meet are not dumb - its typical IT arrogance (we ALL have it guys) to assume anyone who doesn't know all about computers to be a lesser beast - it's the best way to get someone angry. Supporting this person is the same as supporting anyone else. Follow some simple steps and it becomes easy.

  1. Listen - what's the problem the users is calling about
  2. Think - what's the real problem? Often there is an underlying problem you have to identify
  3. Understand - This is a major problem for the user - it might be minor for you but it's not for them
  4. Be Friendly - The worst thing in the world is being short or rude to a user - It Does Not matter how busy you are - this is the problem in front of you it has your full attention
  5. Explain the problem - Do it nicely and suggest how it may be avoided - Don't lecture
  6. Thank the user for calling - it's a little thing but it leaves them feeling important.

That's it - simple and easy and it leaves them feeling like you care about their problems (you don't need to care you just need the user to feel that you understood and cared enough to help them and that they are not stupid for calling).

A suggestion as well is that if the person had a particularly serious problem or was very upset ring them later to make sure all is OK - its a simple touch and it goes a long way - they will tell everyone around them how nice and helpful you are and this is a good thing for client satisfaction ratings and user goodwill - you want them to like you remember.

Now this applies to all staff in Support - and the thing I have found over the last 6 years is that it's something most good helpdesk people do automatically and it's something most 2nd and 3rd level people never do - they give the impression they resent the call in many cases. How many times have you called a helpdesk or technical support department and been treated like an idiot? How did you feel?

I have a cable internet connection and I have on occasion called the tech support staff ; every time I am treated like a moron by their helpdesk guys who inevitably know less than I do, and when you state the issue they challenge you `how would you know'. Is that the right way to deal with someone on a support level? (if your answer is yes you have a problem).

If you treat a client like an idiot then you are embarking on an adversarial path and that's a lose/lose situation - the client gets angry, you get angry, the client complains and you get slapped and there's NO reason for it. I tell all of my staff (I have 10) that they should always put themselves in the clients shoes and should never get angry with a client - if they find themselves getting angry I always recommend they either a:) Call the client back or b:) Pass the call to someone else. Never stay on the phone angry and if you have just had an abusive call then get up, go for a walk and calm down. (Note: This does not mean you should take mindless abuse from a client, but instead of getting angry be firm and friendly, refuse to play the game and if the client continues to be abusive then pass them to a supervisor or someone else - don't stay on the line and take it and don't rise to their level - you are a professional)

Which comes back to the level system and why I think its flawed - the fact is the majority of customer contact comes at Level 1 and 2 where the Helpdesk and Desktop Support teams are, Level 3 has much less and Level 4 and up hardly ever speak to customers. Thus they remain cut off and this has IMHO the effect of slowing down resolution times on customer issues and prioritization of issues - they don't know the customer and have a vested interest in resolving the issue quickly to their satisfaction but importantly not the client, they don't like explaining their reasons and bury it in jargon.

A note on Jargon and tech-speak - A sure fire way to make a client feel dumb and get the conversation onto a bad path is to use heaps of jargon and technical terms - think about ways to say things in plain English and explain terms; teach the client something instead of burying them. Avoid Jargon at all costs.

BUT - I think it can be fixed

Instead of level support or team designations the support team should be just that - a team. Dividing job titles up into areas like Support Operator, Server Support, Mail Admin is fine but ALL users (Including Management) should do a job where they have first level customer contact on a daily or at least weekly basis. This means helpdesk or desktop support - walking the floor and talking to clients.

Now that all the upper level guys out there are sharpening axes for me let me go further. There is no-none who cannot do it and in fact I recommend swapping roles, sending a server guy off to work with clients for the afternoon and putting a talented desktop guy in his job to learn a bit. Sure they won't learn much but they will see how those people function and that's a good learning curve, the important thing is that all staff deal with users and get to know them.

In the long run that's what I believe is the key to a good IT support infrastructure - understanding and trust - users who know you and trust you will put up with the hard times because they know you are working to fix things - it keeps them off your back and lets you get on with the job and you will find funding easier to get.

I encourage my staff to get out there, they each have designated areas and every morning their first task is to get their coffee and then go for a walk to their designated area and say hello to the people they support, they get to know names and people get to know them and trust them. To me it's a good thing to see staff from outside IT chatting to staff from support about the weekend's football or a movie they saw, it means the techie / user barrier has been broken down. And I swap them every few months so gradually they get to know a lot of people. It builds team morale and makes the support people feel a part of the company, something many companies don't do.

Another thing to do is make use of their intranets and mail systems. We have a corporate internet on a global basis and it hosts a lot of technical documents, and what we have also done is create a folder on the Public Store in Exchange for IT Questions - we get a lot and we answer them as best we can - we even encourage them to post questions about non work related subjects like games etc as it often takes 30 seconds to answer but means a lot to the client. Also you can run training sessions - we do them on net-meeting and voice conference and they are growing in popularity - do subjects like web surfing tips (finding the information you want) or managing email. My staff now regularly give advice on home computer purchases to staff (we have even written an FAQ on what to buy and how to get the best deal) and even home stereos and TV's; the staff respect their knowledge and use it and they feel good about being asked.

There are many other ideas and I invite you to contribute your own so everyone can share them, think about it and you will find ways you can improve your service every day.

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Poll
Number one Challenges in IT support
o Work hours too long 5%
o Lack of training 22%
o Lack of Managment Support 18%
o Underpaid 11%
o Employer expects too much 8%
o No career path 30%
o Internal reputation of IT support 3%

Votes: 59
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by eviltwin


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Re-Engineering the Helpdesk - Supporting users in a new world | 92 comments (83 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
The biggest problem (4.44 / 9) (#1)
by Trevasel on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 10:48:40 PM EST

Is overcoming your frustration when you tell the "client" how to do something for the 50th time. You make a point of saying that users have "20 things on the roll, they have letters to type, reports, meetings to book and a hundred other things". Most people, no matter how bright, fill their mental capacity with what is important to them -- the letters, reports, and meetings. They have the capacity but not the *will* to learn even the simplest things. Inevitably frustration sets in as you repeat and repeat and repeat the same instructions you repeated every week for the last year. That's the real problem; user's *aren't* dumb but they just don't give a rat's ass about how to use the computer as a tool. Computers are complicated and hard to learn to use effectively if at all, but most companies don't require their users to know how to use the computer above a very, very basic level and can't afford the month of intensive training that would be required to bring every employee up to speed, even though it would probably drastically improve productivity across the board.
-- That which does not kill you only makes you stranger - Trevor Goodchild
I agree but it can be solved (none / 0) (#2)
by eviltwin on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 10:59:48 PM EST

I agree completely but the fact is there will always be people like that so its almost neccesary to take a zen like attitude to it. We post a lot of common fixes to our FAQ and intranet and gently point users there if we know they have asked the same question before (our call logging software shows last 10 call subjects and hyperlinks so you can check). But at the end of the day some people are like that and always will be.

Training wont fix the problem but by keeping the right stats and notes you can show up how bad training practices are - its something i have used myself when negotiating charges for support to to internal clients (all depts pay a per head figure for support - we made a simple rule that if they invested some money in trainig their key staff we would give them a discount on costs - it worked well, and at the same time those who didnt got charged more for the increased support load their staff put on my guys)

Its hard to have that effect below management levels though.

All generalisations are false, including this one.
[ Parent ]
If you have to repeat.. (4.33 / 3) (#12)
by Kwil on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 03:10:10 AM EST

..and repeat and repeat the same instructions each week then one of two things is going on:

1. It's the same person and you just suck at explaining things clearly. Get out of the job.

2. It's a different person each time which means there's something wrong with the UI. If it's your software product, fix it. If it's not your software product, make a script and realize that you're going to get called on this - a lot - bitch to the company that made the software.

Why *should* people give a rat's ass about how to use the computer beyond what they normally do on it? Because it would make your job easier? Boo hoo.

I can drive my car just fine, but when it breaks down I need a mechanic. Thank God he doesn't have the same attitude as a lot of support people - I don't know what the thing-a-majig that's rattling is - and my mechanic doesn't care that I don't. He knows that's not my job, it's his.

Really, that's all a helpdesk/support person is. We can feel all high and mighty because we work with computers, but come on, we're mechanics, plain and simple. We fix things when they're broken. If we're lucky, we get a thank you when we're done.

[ Parent ]
re: If you have to repeat.. (5.00 / 2) (#18)
by Maserati on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 04:33:06 AM EST

I've long been held the attitude that if you can't do your job without the computer, then computer skills actually ARE essential to your job. If it isn't essential to your job, then I'll fix it when I bloody well get around to it. If it IS essential, then you need to know a little bit about how the damn thing works.

--

For the wise a hint, for the fool a stick.
[ Parent ]

The same person ? (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by Builder on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 06:22:03 AM EST

1. It's the same person and you just suck at explaining things clearly. Get out of the job.

Every single company I have ever worked for has at least one of those people. Many companies have had more. The person who resents the fact that he has to use this computa thingy to do his job, is just plain scared of it, and no matter who explains or how patiently they explain it, this user WILL NOT GET IT!

I've seen people like this sent on courses, counselled by HR, work with the team for a week to try and gain an understanding and a dozen other things. Despite this, they still do not get it.


--
Be nice to your daemons
[ Parent ]
amen. (none / 0) (#31)
by regeya on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 01:36:49 PM EST

I work in a small office, and I have the added frustration that I have my own job to do on top of hand-holding.

What gets on my nerves is explaining, over and over, the most basic of facts about MacOS and Macs, and it never soaks in. Hey, I have the letters, memos, and a newspaper to help put out, too, and I learned this stuff. So can other people. It isn't hard. You'd think after a while people would get over the fright of restarting their computers, but . . . no. I have some people that cause me to 1.) leave my desk, abandoning my JOB and 2.) restarting their computers. If I seem irritated, it's because I've wasted two minutes of valuable time either choosing Restart from the Special menu (heh . . . special . . . like the user . . . ) or hitting the reset button.

And just try getting that person to rebuild the desktop once a day! Whoo!

I'm seriously considering just writing a short manual for everyone for simple, mundane problems that I can't be bothered to fix ten minutes before deadline.


[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

You're wrong! (3.16 / 6) (#3)
by xriso on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 11:09:37 PM EST

IT people are the rightful rulers of the world. All we have to do is make the users realise this.
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
Sorry... (1.50 / 2) (#8)
by Trickster on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 01:36:24 AM EST

BOFH is funny - you're not

[ Parent ]
Thank you! (3.00 / 6) (#4)
by pietra on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 11:18:28 PM EST

I am very grateful to see someone in the IT industry actually expressing these sentiments, particularly in such a well-thought-out matter. Your article has some typos, but the content is good enough that I don't mind (and I'm usually quite rabid about grammar, spelling, and punctuation). The vast majority of my friends are in IT, and it gets quite frustrating to hear them denigrate the very people who ultimately employ them. The best parallel that I can give is the following: I worked for an accountant for a couple of years, and a lot of what I did was basically providing tech support for QuickBooks and the U.S. tax code. You want to find people who are even angrier and more frustrated than confused technophobic users, try your average taxpayer on April 10th. If you called up your accountant and asked, for instance, what the hell this marriage penalty tax thing was, and why it meant that you and your new wife now had to pay a ton more this year, would you want someone who was rude and snotty, asking you if you'd read a fucking newspaper lately? Or would you want someone patient and understanding, even though they had no doubt answered that question approximately 2499 times already that day? It works the same way for tech support. Again, good article, and badly needed.

MMMmhh NO (none / 0) (#35)
by MKalus on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 02:10:31 PM EST

That is not quite comparable. Why?

Because it is not like they call about a new "feature" but they over and over and over again call about the SAME thing.

In your example that would mean you get calls all the time from people asking you WHY they have to pay taxes.

[ Parent ]
And you know what? (4.00 / 3) (#37)
by pietra on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 05:04:20 PM EST

I did. All the time. Easily one-third of our customers were under the impression that the whole point of going to an accountant was to avoid paying *any* taxes at all. They had never used one before, and were very disappointed to discover that we could often save them some money, but we couldn't get them out of paying taxes altogether. It was also not unusual for people to call up regarding withholding issues over and over and over again, hoping that if they just kept bugging me enough, I'd tell them some fabulous secret to keep any money from being withheld from their paychecks and simultaneously keep them from owing any money at the end of the year. The real difference was that small accounting firms need to maintain very good relationships with their customers, whereas most software firms don't seem to have figured this out yet.

[ Parent ]
Some of the issues (4.66 / 6) (#5)
by Travail on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 11:49:23 PM EST

I've done tech support -- both as a full time job and as a secondary part of being a programmer -- and wanted to add a few comments:

* You get what you pay for. A lot of the Tier 1 support staff seems to (generally) be technically illiterate and deal with scripts. You could put programmers and network admins on Tier 1, but then you're paying $20+ per hour instead of $7 per hour. On a related note, online trouble tickets are a must; despite the overhead of having to key in the data, there's a definite advantage to having a record of related issues as opposed to the support person keeping a few Post-It notes.

* Time. Quite often the Tier 2 & 3 support staff have "real jobs", and resent their work being interrupted. At a previous job, I was missing programming deadlines due to the number of tech support calls. When I finally started tracking the time I spent on calls, my supervisor was "delighted" to hear that two-thirds of my time was being spent on support calls. (Sometimes detailed timesheets work in your favor :)

* After-Hours Support. Pagers, cell phones, etc... I think everyone here could write a book.

* Users. When the user calls with a bad attitude, it's truly difficult not to give it back to them. "Bad attitude" also comes into play when users set deadlines, pull rank, or expect to be shielded from "techie-land". I believe that users should have a some computer literacy; after all, everyone from the fry-guy at McDonald's to truckers and airline pilots knows the tech and jargon their jobs.

I'm no BofH, but there has to be a give-and-take. Without strong management support, things can go downhill pretty easily.

Jargon (3.33 / 3) (#13)
by Kwil on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 03:22:16 AM EST

<i>I believe that users should have a some computer literacy; after all, everyone from the fry-guy at McDonald's to truckers and airline pilots knows the tech and jargon their jobs.</i>
<p>
Sure they do.. that's why they're doing what they do and pay us to do what we do. A Mcdonald's worker doesn't know how his cash register works. When it starts flashing "Error" on him, he calls over the manager. Any user that calls a helpdesk is like that McDonald's employee - they're in a situation that's out of the norm for them, that's why they're calling.</p>
<p>To expect them to be computer literate is like expecting them to be their own maintenance men. Many a trucker doesn't know how to fix their rigs, many an airline plot has no clue how to fix a jet - and why should they, that's not their job after all.
</p>



[ Parent ]
Keerips! Flat Text again! (2.50 / 2) (#14)
by Kwil on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 03:23:15 AM EST

I really have to stop doing that.. any trusted users.. feel free to zero out both these comments. Please? Thanks.


[ Parent ]
Overloaded ratings are Harmful (5.00 / 1) (#20)
by PresJPolk on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 05:31:51 AM EST

So now someone who is nice enough to point out a mistake gets flagged as less trustworthy...

Confusing the value of a comment with the value of the user who made the comment is just bad.

[ Parent ]
Proportions (4.00 / 4) (#6)
by TRy the egg rOLL on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 12:13:57 AM EST

I have found that the number of times someone mentions their job description is inversely proportional to how important they actually are. You seem to mention that you're an IT manager a lot..

--
"I am seriously impressed with your gaping ass art."  -oc3
Normally true (3.66 / 3) (#7)
by eviltwin on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 12:50:02 AM EST

I just like to show i have the job that i talk about - i think its important to show im not just some crackpot, but you have a point

All generalisations are false, including this one.
[ Parent ]
POV (none / 0) (#26)
by r1chard on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 09:48:16 AM EST

Theres nothing wrong with writing an article with a point of view, and in this artcle we know where the guy is coming from, becuase he tells us what he does. One of the main points he makes is that you have to be able to see things from someone elses point of view, and more than that, in helpdesk, that is part of your job. Personally I hated helpdesk due to the pressures of call centre work, I liked talking to the poeple, and knew how to turn a pissed off customer around. That was five years ago, and I was gald to leave helpdesk becuase the call centre pressures and th repetitive nature of the job got to me. For all that it served a purpose too: it was a stepping stone to a job that uses my skills and provides constant, interesting and exciting challenges.

[ Parent ]
Hrm. (4.91 / 12) (#9)
by kitten on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 02:03:26 AM EST

If you treat a client like an idiot then

Maybe they shouldn't be treated like idiots (maybe they should), but certainly, many of them are, in fact, idiots - at least when it comes to technical matters.

I tell all of my staff (I have 10) that they should always put themselves in the clients shoes

This may or may not be the case for all helpdesks, but it seems to me that if I were to put myself in the client's shoes, my thoughts would be something along the lines of:
"Gee, I use this thousand-dollar machine five or more days a week and have made absolutely zero effort to learn anything about it. In fact, I know so little about this computer that when I need help, I am unable to even articulate the problem intelligibly, relying instead on vague things like 'my internet is is broken'."

Yes, the clients have a million other things to worry about, and yes, not all people are inclined to learn about computers, but I honestly do not think it is unreasonable to expect the user to have a minimal, working knowledge of this machine which they use on a daily basis - if for no other reason than when they need help, they can describe the problem coherently.
This is an example of a user truly wasting my time. I should not have to deal with things like this.

I have a cable internet connection and I have on occasion called the tech support staff ; every time I am treated like a moron by their helpdesk guys who inevitably know less than I do, and when you state the issue they challenge you `how would you know'. Is that the right way to deal with someone on a support level?

On the other hand, I have received calls where the user challenges my judgement and second-guesses everything I say, treating me like an idiot. I am by no means alone in this - every tech-support or helpdesk jockey has dealt with users like this. It's difficult not to scream "Hey, if you know so bloody much, you wouldn't have called me! Now, do you want my help or don't you?"

You address this problem when you state,

If this person is getting onto middle age (say 50+) they may have issues with technology eroding their job roles etc and as most people in IT support are under 30 they see you as a kid.

I understand that lots of people - especially the baby-boomers and up - have trouble keeping up with technology and software. I'm more or less okay with that. But the fact is, I have knowledge that they do not, which is why they are calling upon me for assistance.. it should not and does not matter that I am younger than they are, nor is their perception of me as a 'kid' a valid excuse for behaving in the manner that many of them do. If they want my help - which they obviously do, since they called - then they need to put their egos aside and admit that I just might know something they don't.

The barely-below-the-surface hostility works both ways - it is not always that the tech jockey is unfriendly or inattentive to the client's needs or whatever. Actually, as far as I can tell, it is the users who are disproportionately rude and obnoxious to the very people they want assistance from - and this quickly breeds apathy in the help staff.

So, could the IT departments be friendlier, more attentive, and less holier-than-thou? Certainly.

But it's important to remember: So could the users.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
All true but (3.66 / 3) (#10)
by eviltwin on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 02:15:10 AM EST

Yes ive seen the same things but it doesnt change the fact that hwe support them - its a shitty job sometimes but you make the best ot it.

The company i work for deals globally in real estate - thats their job and the staff are out there to lease and sell commercial property. The company offers no training to new users and sticks them at a desk. Is it their fault ?

I have some people we support who try and some who dont, some who work long hours at their jobs who dont have time to learn and some who cant be bothered.

Does that make them all assholes?

Some people are just that but in most cases its what the user is going thru or gone thru that makes them act that way, they are shaped by the media and the things around them, they have had bad service from another IT company so they to their mind they are all that way.

Take people as you find them and treat everyone a nicely as you can - its better in the long run for your sanity and your career - but never take abuse - deal with it but don'd fall to that level.

And i dont mean to be smart arse - i truly mean this as a helpfull comment - if you hate it so much why are you stil in support ? can you move into a role that isnt focused on client contact so much ? Not everyone is suited to user Support roles and theres nothing wrong with that.

All generalisations are false, including this one.
[ Parent ]

i can't be bothered (none / 0) (#73)
by eudas on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 03:49:13 PM EST

that is the #1 attitude that drives me nuts and will engender NO fucking sympathy at all. if you can't be bothered then it's YOUR issue, not mine. it goes with the old saying "give a man a fish, he eats for a day; teach him how to fish, and he eats for the rest of his life"... if people cannot be bothered to learn how to fish then that does not mean that i am responsible to get fish for him every day.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]
agreed but (none / 0) (#81)
by eviltwin on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 08:02:12 PM EST

I personally and my staff try and teach every time and the majority of people we have learn - we are lucky in that it is a professional workplace and we can reasonably expect a level of knowledge - some people wont ever learn but then again they pay for our service so we just have to grin and bear it.

Getting angy doesnt help as it only pisses them off and a pissed off person can be a liability - i dont like spending all day in meetings with angry managers explaining that the employee in question is actually a brainless dickhead.

If you treat them nice and help them then they get their problem solved - they praise you and a double negative becomes a positive.

All generalisations are false, including this one.
[ Parent ]
If they learn to fish... (none / 0) (#82)
by Wah on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 08:03:43 PM EST

..then your job as a fisherman is redundant. Really, you don't want people to learn to fish. If it's your job to provide fish, then it's your job to provide fish. If you don't like fishing, take up farming, or freakin' basketweaving.
--
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]
One key difference. (3.00 / 2) (#11)
by Kwil on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 02:53:48 AM EST

You're not paying them.


[ Parent ]
Re: One key difference. (none / 0) (#15)
by FattMattP on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 03:24:04 AM EST

Right. They are both being paid by the same entity -- the company they work for. When they say client, they are talking about the IT department's internal clients which are the other users within the organization.

[ Parent ]
So what people should be treated like human beings (none / 0) (#74)
by glitchvern on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 04:28:51 PM EST

When I go to McDonald's or anywhere else, I don't go treat the employees like shit and neither should anyone else. I don't care who works for who. You treat people like shit you're gonna get what's coming to you. That said most of my users are courteous.
Programmers are like Mogwai, they hate bright light, direct sunlight is rumoured to kill them.
[ Parent ]
waste of your time (1.00 / 1) (#60)
by kubalaa on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 07:24:33 AM EST

Tech support is being paid to support the customers, no? If you find it so unbearable, then charge more -- the beauty of a free market. At worst you'll get fewer customers... but hey, customers are a waste of time anyways, right?

Nobody in a free, capitalist society, has a right to complain about much, because that's the beauty of capitalism; it's all completely voluntary.

[ Parent ]

Nice pic (none / 0) (#64)
by farmgeek on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:08:27 AM EST

Cool pic across the top of your site!

That's all. I may have to borrow it (personal use only).


[ Parent ]
Yes oh noble manager (4.40 / 5) (#19)
by axxeman on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 05:06:44 AM EST

But as a techie I can tell you that most of us aren't paid nearly enough to do what you request us to do - tho I am not aware of your employees' salaries in particular.

I have also worked in a revenue-generating "solution centre" doing high level UNIX support - our direct clients being external system administrators. My assessment is that at least 75% of "system administrators" have bullshitted their way into their position. Then again, most of anything is crap.

Not yet. Don't come before we have finished humping...

At least you're paid to do tech support (5.00 / 2) (#61)
by vrai on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 09:44:51 AM EST

I'm employed as a (C++) software engineer but still have to field questions on everything from why does my PC keep crashing to how do you run macros in Excel! I think the problem is that our company's ITS is so poor that people don't bother to phone them anymore, its easier to ask a nearby random 'computer person'. Now they have a point, the ITS is shite (all our core systems are on Sun boxes and AS/400s, the ITS staff are MSCEs) but its still bloody annoying ("I'm a highly skilled developer! Stop asking me about f**king MS-Office!").

So to all those talented help-desk personnel out there, I salute you. Now come and work at the same place I do so I can get some peace!

[ Parent ]

Not paid nearly enough (4.00 / 3) (#67)
by vertigo7 on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:52:28 AM EST

I'm a phone tech support rep, NOT a psychiatrist. My sole reason for existing, as far as management is concerned, is to fix your problem and get you off of my phone as quickly as possible so I can help the next brain-dead luser. I'm not here to make you feel good about it, I'm not here to pat you on the back and say "it's okay, spilling toner all over the new carpet could have happened to any moron who was fooling with something he didn't understand and shouldn't have been touching in the first place.", I'm not here to give you a religious orgasmic experience, I'm not here to prop up your ego and tell you that opening that virus even after you'd been specifically instructed not to was NOT the most severely stupid move I've ever seen.

Get over yourselves, you're a bunch of bleating sheep. While it may be true that without lusers calling my job does not exist, it is also true that there are infinitely more lusers than there are clued-in, skilled IT personnel, so I will always have a job waiting for me somewhere.

vertigo7
Recovering IT drone

[ Parent ]
Or as it happened in my case (none / 0) (#83)
by axxeman on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:36:14 PM EST

"No sir, we will not replace under warranty any more failed parts of that E10K you somehow managed to drench in toner."

Not yet. Don't come before we have finished humping...
[ Parent ]

Tell you what... (4.44 / 9) (#21)
by Spatula on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 05:35:36 AM EST

...if you're calling tech support, and you have technical knowledge, you are fairly inept if you don't utter the phrase 'escalate me' within the first few sentences of speaking to level 1. L1 is there for a reason: To weed out the lusers and PHBs from the people who have actual problems that require knowlege and attention.

We treat callers like idiots because they almost invariably are idiots. The few gems of the day (the 'escalate me' calls) are the highlights of the dreary help desk woes. I never want to work L1 again, but if I do, I will still treat every caller with utter disrespect until they RTFM and know enough to ask me to explain things that are not covered in the FAQ or the manual.

But, that's just me. It could be that I"m just an ass.
--
someday I'll find something to put here.

the tech support guru has spoken (4.33 / 6) (#30)
by blakdogg on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 12:58:39 PM EST

if i were in tech support i would be extremely careful about using the word idiot. i have found that most of 'you people' are none too bright. From the cases where I was told my Linux machine was infected with Code Red to the case where they changed access numbers w/o warning - you really don't have the right to call anyone an idiot

peace

Woe be onto the United Nations, there nothing but a front.
[ Parent ]
Point taken... (3.00 / 1) (#46)
by Spatula on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 02:55:51 AM EST

However, you speak as if you haven't worked a help desk or a call center desk. To give you an idea of what goes on on a daily basis at call centers, I suggest you read a current article by communista or consult an expert on help desk woes and whinges.

I use the term 'idiot' because that is the most applicable adjective available in the English language. If you can come up with a better term (be it luser, wanker, clueball, moron or whathaveyou), let me know.
--
someday I'll find something to put here.
[ Parent ]

The ISP helpdesk and the bank helpdesk. (5.00 / 1) (#86)
by katie on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 04:36:24 AM EST

I've only worked frontline support for apps that I wrote. So I have no idea what the ISP helpdesk is like, but I know what it's like from a user end.

I phone up and say things like "I'm having issues with this dial-in number - I get a connection and a session established, and I can route to the machine on the end of the phone line, but that machine seems to be having trouble routing to your core network - the packet loss is up at 80% or so. It's not on all the dial-in ports because I tried a few times and got connected to differently id'd ports, but about half of them exhibit this."

The conversation then runs like this:

"You need to reinstall your TCPIP stack"

"I don't think I do. I can route to your machine over my phone line just fine."

"IP stacks get corrupted. You need to reinstall it."

"IP stacks don't get corrupted in Linux."

"Ah. We don't support Linux."

"Yes, I know you don't. I support these machines here. These machines are fine. One of your routers seems to be having trouble."

"It's usually a TCPIP stack that needs reinstalling."

"Look, this IP stack is fine; look I can talk to machines all over my house fine. I can talk to your front end machine fine, I can't talk to anything beyond your front end machine."

"You see the problem is we just don't support Linux..."

"What about a different dial-up number?"

"Yeah, you could try...<blah>"

"Cool. Bye."

I assume the problem eventually got fixed, after someone called up and went "Internet not work. Me want internet" and it was escalated a dozen times until someone found the bad router. I don't know, because I've not gone back to the old dial-up number. It might STILL be broken and they might still have customers wondering why the internet is always so slow.

----------------------------------

On a side note, I called the bank one day. We get into a discussion of why my mortgage pre-approval had been removed. Humourously, it turned out that it was because I didn't earn enough:

"You only earn <blah> a year."

"Pardon?"

"The computer says you only earn <blah> a year. You need <blah> for an automatic mortgage approval."

"I do. Look at the historical figures."

"Yes, last year you earned enough. This year you haven't you've only earned <blah>."

I think about this for a minute and then work it out...

"It's February. That's two months pay you have there. You can't run approvals like that on what someone's earned THIS CALENDAR YEAR surely?"

"Oh yes. Computers do that."

"Your computer should be averaging across the last twelve months figures."

"Computers can't do things like that you know."

"Can't they?"

"No."

"You sure?"

"Yes."

"I think they can."

"They can't."

"So do you do a lot of autmatic approvals in, say, October, Novemberish?"

"Oh yes...very busy then."


Helpdesks. Gotta love them.



[ Parent ]
The ISP help desk (none / 0) (#92)
by Spatula on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 11:20:30 AM EST

I love calls that are introduced such as you did. Of course, the ISP doesn't support Linux. I doubt any major ones do. Calls such as that one got escalated immediately by me, in that I wasn't given router info or anything even remotely close. "Reinstall your TCP/IP stack" was a generic response, too, to connectivity problems, and even covered in the training.

On a side note, I'm fortunate in that my local ISP does support all flavors of UNIX, except homegrown and mega-obscure types. The only thing that sucked about my ISP is that, for a while there about 4 years ago, they were going through growing pains and went from FreeBSD to Debian to Solaris, back to FreeBSD and finally to OpenBSD. That meant alot of downtime.
--
someday I'll find something to put here.
[ Parent ]

Minimum requirement required from 'clients' (4.50 / 10) (#22)
by Builder on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 06:15:21 AM EST

While I do to some extent see your point about helpdesk people treating users wrong, there is another side to this.

In almost every environment I've been in, the users have treated the IT staff with disrespect. If a computer crashes, the user takes this out on the IT person. If a user forgets something for the 5th time and asks the same IT person again, he has a fit if the IT person is anything other than patient. Should the IT person be having a bad day, pulled an all nighter the day before and be generally short on sleep, the end user still wants his answer now. Where is the IT staffer's motivation to treat these animals like people ?

I've seen people who point blank refuse to learn new things without the company sending them on courses. They want the certificate to enhance their CV. Until the company can arrange a course, it is up to the poor tech staffer to support their every woe. In many, many cases, on returning from a course the client still does not appear to have learned anything because they make the same mistakes again.

On the subject of the same mistake, I think that this is the main cause for ratty IT staffers. A user makes a mistake, you support them. They make the same mistake a couple of days later despite having been instructed on how not to make it. You support them. They make the same mistake yet again a couple of days later, and their request goes to the bottom of the queue to be dealt with when you actually have the time and inclination. The client doesn't see this delayed response as a result of their blatant stupidity and inability to learn the most simple of things. He sees it as the IT people just being plain anti-social and not wanting to help. When I say simple things, I mean simple things like the difference between left and right click for example - not complex. Left click means to press the button closest to the left side of the mouse with the mouse cable pointing directly away from you. Right click means to press the button closest to the right side of the mouse, with the mouse cable pointing away from you. I've seen users who cannot grasp this.

You also comment that the server guys don't want to talk to the users and avoid this wherever possible. Why shouldn't they? I hire server support staff to support my servers. This is their role, and the role that they agreed to fulfill. Why should they do anything else? Also, they are normally fairly busy throughout the day and supporting users will lead to overtime. You are not going to pay them more for this support, so why do you expect them to do it for free? What is their motivation ?


--
Be nice to your daemons
no kidding (none / 0) (#29)
by VoxLobster on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 11:37:49 AM EST

I used to work for Revenue Canada in the IT shop, and man........if it wasn't my boss giving me no respect, it was the clients. The absolute best was when people would bring in diskettes (which we expressly told them never to save important work to) with the complaint "My disk is broken, and I need every document on there and my job depends on it!". After recovering the diskette, and instructing the user to save important stuff to the network drive, and then giving them an instruction sheet on how to do it, and then going to their desk, and moving all of their files off diskette and onto the network drive when they complain it's too difficult for them... they come back the next week and it all repeats... The biggest problem, and this has always been this way, is the lack of education of users...the only want to know the bare minimum they need to do their job...anything else is IT's responsability.

VoxLobster -- Making the world safe for the uber-babies of tomorrow

VoxLobster
I was raised by a cup of coffee! -- Homsar
[ Parent ]

Problem users: a step-by-step guide (5.00 / 1) (#62)
by spring on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 10:46:44 AM EST

First call, same problem: Answer the question politely and patiently over the phone.

Second call, same problem: Answer the question politely and patiently over the phone, following up to the user with an e-mail describing the problem in detail and its solution.

Third call, same problem: Tell the user you will send them an e-mail. Forward your previous e-mail back to both the user and the user's manager, suggesting politely (oh so politely) that the user get some training.

Fourth call, same problem: Tell the user that someone will get back to them. Forward your last forwarded e-mail to your manager, telling him or her to fight this goddamn fight for you.

[ Parent ]
This only applies... (none / 0) (#63)
by spring on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 10:48:13 AM EST

This only applies, of course, for internal company helpdesks.

[ Parent ]
Re: This only applies... (none / 0) (#70)
by FattMattP on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 12:57:36 PM EST

Which is what the original article is about.

[ Parent ]
Big problem (4.55 / 9) (#24)
by Nickus on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 07:13:21 AM EST

The biggest problem is actually the user-friendlieness of todays operating systems. Or at least that is what the vendors make the users believe. They say that everyone can take care of a computer but even with todays modern operating systems/environment that is not true. But the users believe that and when they encounter a problem they try to solve it themselves. By digging into the most obscure things like registries, configfiles, laaarge Options dialogboxes and the end result is that the computer is a lot more screwed up than with the original problem.

The thing is that the operating systems should be taken care of by professional people. When you have problem with your car you go to a car mechanic. When you are going to wire your house you go to an electrician. When you have problem with your computer you should go to a professional.

This is the main reason why helpdesk people look at the users as idiots. Because they go and poke into things they don't have a clue about and then they call the helpdesk and say "I didn't do anything and you have to fix it now".



Due to budget cuts, light at end of tunnel will be out. --Unknown
Very well said (none / 0) (#89)
by 0xA on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 08:43:50 PM EST

The biggest problem is actually the user-friendlieness of todays operating systems. Or at least that is what the vendors make the users believe. They say that everyone can take care of a computer but even with todays modern operating systems/environment that is not true.

The expectation is set early on by all this "easy to use" BS that people sould have no problems with thier software.

When they do have problems they tend to get a little defensive, after all this stuff is easy to use right? I think many people are questioning thier own intelligence sometimes during these situations. This makes them more than a little hostile.

I mean honestly, I have a monitor box in my cubicle that seves as something for me to kick when I get frustrated. Why should we expect people to not have the same reaction to this stuff?

[ Parent ]

Misused Jargon (4.42 / 7) (#32)
by holdfast on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 01:55:31 PM EST

A lot of the jargon that occurs when I am doing telephone support comes from the person calling me!

They may have been trying to "upload a file" (save it), "reprogramme the computer" (move icons around their desktop) or "install something" (double-clicking on an icon).
On other occasions I get someone trying to be clever and giving me 'technical' terms for particular parts of the computer...

hard disc - base system, the box
disc drive - base system, the box
CPU - base system, the box
computer - monitor
digital camera core memory - flash card
and lots more.

They come out with all this pseudo-technical stuff and expect me to understand it from them. Wait and see what happens if they think I am using a technical term on them! All I have to do with some people is say "press the TAB key" and they go wild at me...

Alternatively, I get moaned at for telling them that switching off the monitor was not what I meant when I suggested they turn off the computer. I had one senior manager get very upset when I happened to mention that that thing on the floor is
a. Not a footrest
b. A computer
c. probably better off the floor anyway as it is a desktop system and sucking in dust since the air intakes are all at floor level.

What I really object to is the ones who are proud of not knowing something and cross at you for trying to explain. Ignorance is OK - without end users, we would all be out of work. Not being interested is OK - I am not interested in the finer points of power tool maintenance.


"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
Right On (3.50 / 4) (#33)
by Zara2 on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 02:05:59 PM EST

I work 2nd tier support for a very large computer company. Part of my job has been to bring trainees up to speed and to do vitality training on our old hands. Thi article is dead on. Your average user does not and should not know how to fix a computer or even to use it beyond thier specific job. I have the biggest time getting this idea to implant itself in our technicians heads. Even my fellow Level 2's will yell at our level 1 techs (who can be real bad, especially the outsourcers in other countries). They get all mad and flustered and *get this* stop being effective. This is the main issue I have with the *your a moron* mentality that most technicians have. They stop being technicians and start being something else, i'm not sure what but whatever they turn into doesnt fix computers. Sorry for the rambling. Just want to say I think this article is dead on on what is wrong with the tech support industry today. Any time a tech says "but they should know this" he is just whining and compalining and NOT DOING HIS JOB. Whether the client doesn't know how to right click or whether it is something more complicated it is not thier job to know it. It is your job to know it AND explain it to the customer.

I think we can improve this so much (3.00 / 2) (#34)
by linuxhead154 on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 02:06:33 PM EST

The way it is now is horrible, on the customer they are waiting for hours to get thru and when they do they sound like they have been on a dessert island.

Then, the techies whom have to listen to these people with half a brain and can never get anything done, since they have to use the customer eyes and hands, something like remote assistance or telnet access could really help this situation
I have wondered the world, and searched for the answer to it all. And then I discovered I never physically left, just my mind.

Yummy (none / 0) (#68)
by toganet on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 12:01:37 PM EST

'Dessert' Island? Is that part of the salad bar at Ponderosa?

Johnson's law: Systems resemble the organizations that create them.


[ Parent ]
Hell desks (4.50 / 2) (#36)
by alge on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 02:31:15 PM EST

You should really really really take a look at this article. It says about the opposite of what you're saying ... sure, you would like to be able to treat the client fairly, but it's kind of impossible to do when your manager is timing you and rewarding the ones who finish faster.

vi er ikke lenger elsket her

Differing Management styles (4.00 / 2) (#38)
by eviltwin on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 05:25:50 PM EST

As a manager now i had those types of guys when i was coming up, they universally are bad managers and worse at people management. Using figures to measure performance is ridiculous as i have proven in the past (as a dare) you can get everyone who rings in a windows environment to reboot and it solves 90% of the common problems and your call time looks amazaing.

I don't do that to my staff - i dont care about call times i only care that a call is closed within a resolution windows and my standard window is 60 minutes to pick up from the unassigned queue and 24 hours to close the call.

Not all managers are PHB's - some of us used to be staff - but obviously what i am saying is an ideal and not practiced by everyone.

All generalisations are false, including this one.
[ Parent ]

I see a problem (4.33 / 3) (#39)
by Tatarigami on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 07:17:08 PM EST

I don't do that to my staff - i dont care about call times i only care that a call is closed within a resolution windows and my standard window is 60 minutes to pick up from the unassigned queue and 24 hours to close the call.

The problem is that you live in an idealised world where your corporate client has money to burn and doesn't make you justify every second you spend on the line with a customer.

I'm not trying to put you down, just point out that most helpdesk staff work in an environment where making the customer happy is lower on the list of priorities than meeting an arbitrary time limit which will allow the outsourcing company to generate a report where the figures are all green and the client can be confident that their users are receiving the best service they're willing to pay for.

It's nice for your staff that you're not putting that kind of pressure on them -- but you're the exception, not the rule. Your advice won't work for most of us.

Unfortunately i know (none / 0) (#77)
by eviltwin on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 05:26:28 PM EST

I know im the odd man out in thinking this way but believe me i have had some asshole managers and they just made me be determined not to be like them.

I am lucky enough ot be sought out for roles, my speciality is rebuilding environments from helpdesks to networks, its a matter of putting in the hours and hiring the right people and then maintaining focus all the way to the end, its hard work but not brain surgery.

When i started this job the telephone list had 'No help Desk' Printed on it and the staff usedf to take breaks at odd times to avoid meeting actual people who hated them, now they walk the floors and talk to people.

Along the way it took a lot of pain and fighting to get there and it was never easy but don't for a second think i will just go with the customer - i dont subrscibe to the customer is always right theory - i back my staff all the way if they are right and can prove it - this is a meritocracy - these guys earned their jobs and they keep earning them every day as do it - its trust and hard work but at the end of the day there's nothing they cannot do.

2 of my guys started out with me in a previous role as helpdesk guys and are now server support- they both had no courses or degrees and were young but they wanted to learn and worked as hard as they could - i promoted them when they demonstrated they were ready and one of them will be managing his own team within a year - at 22.

Any IT department survives and thrives on good people and working as a team - if you can get good people and get the team strong then management becomes less important - i estimate i manage about 10%of the time and the rest is spent assiting and guiding staff - i never dictate and almost never yell.

Then again i also take the practical jokes they throw at me and play them myself - you are supposed to have fun at work.

All generalisations are false, including this one.
[ Parent ]
Actually, the problem is you (3.12 / 16) (#40)
by DranoK 420 on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 08:50:17 PM EST

Tech support managers such as yourself have forcibly created a niche for their usually inadequate resumes that normally wouldn't land them a job with the label of "professional". Why? Because tech support managers like you have brilliantly managed to convince users that zero knowledge of computers is OK. Furthermore, you have convinced the company that employs you of this exact same thing.

When Joe B. goes downtown and buys a new car and can't figure out how to drive a shift, the salesman suggests he try an automatic. When Joe blows a fuse he drags out that 200-page manual and figures out how to replace it. When Joe's car won't start he tries to figure out what's wrong on his own, checking the battery connections, etc. Only as a last resort does he even bring it back to the dealership if it's under warenty, or to a third-party autoshop if its not. Why? Because it's a pain in the ass to bring your car down and wait until its fixed. So people learn.

The question which begs asking then, is why can't people learn computers?. I'm sorry, but you have to be a complete twat to not grasp the simple basics of operating a computer. I've never failed to show someone interested in learning something how to operate their computer, no matter how dense they were. Yet lawyers with massive degrees have no comprehension of a case-sensitive password despite their ability to replace their car's battery. Why? Why!?

Because you are a part of the problem, not the solution.

You tell people its OK for them to not learn the tools they use 8 hours a day. That it's OK to be complete twats. Guess what would happen if an accountant used to a printing calculator was given one with an LCD display and complained all the time that it wasn't working? That's right. They'd be fired. Why? Because, frankly, it's not too much for a company to ask that you use the tools they provide for your job.

But because of brain-dead fuckheads like yourself, if this calculator was instead a computer application, these people would find it perfectly acceptable to bitch every day about not undersanding the concept of File->New to start a new calculation project.

Out of all the tools you use every day, from your washer and dryer to your car to the idoicies in shipping a package via UPS, why is it only your computer which has an entire fucking staff of its own to support? Is it because basic applications are so poorly designed that only the most brilliant among us can use them? No. Is it that computers take a ton of education to use? No. They why?

Because users feel it's acceptable and OK to not know how to use the tools they work with.

You know what happens when someone can't figure out how to adjust their chair (and, believe me, some chairs are fucking impossible to adjust)? Do they call the chair support hotline? No. They deal with it until someone shows them how to do it. And then guess what? They remember how to do it themself next time.

When a helpdesk person comes and fixes your app, do you just stare blankly until he leaves, or do you watch him so you can do it yourself next time?

If companies treated computers as a tool and destroyed the belief morons like you have instilled, most helpdesk personel could be relocated to more useful jobs. There is no reason when a computer is an intigral part of your job, sitting right in front of you in your cubacle and being used by you 8 or 9 hours a day for you to not know how to fuckin use it. It's incompetance.

So, find a real job instead of trying to make your 18-year-old techs with the inclination to learn the tools they use to feel responsible for end user incompetance.

No company should allow themselves to hire an employee too stupid to learn the applications they will be using. It's sheer incompetance.

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.


Bullshit. (2.87 / 8) (#41)
by coryking on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 11:00:10 PM EST

It's because of piss poor software that is hard to use, and non intuative. You should be designing software for people!!! Not elitist geeks who think that computing is the end all be all of software. If people actually design software for the way people acutally used them, the world would be a better place.

You wonder why there is not a dedicated staff for cars, or can openers? Because they are designed so well that their use is intutative. They are designed for the user. Users dont know shit about their cars, how come they drive them? Users dont know shit about how their microwave works, yet they use them just fine. Fuck, people use utility power, do you think they know about the engineering principles that went into designing that system? They couldn't even tell you it was 120V in the US. Why sir, do you think computers should be any other way?

You sir are a shame to the entire software and computing industry. People like you should be fired. You shame the rest of us. Your resentment of the people who keep your fucking job is astounding. Knowing shit about computers does not equate to intelligence. There is nothing special about computers!! They are just tools!

[ Parent ]

Your anger indicates to me (1.57 / 7) (#43)
by DranoK 420 on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 11:27:28 PM EST

That you should pursue a career in food service rather than one which would require you to come into contact with computers.

I'm sorry, but given the choice between a world where I'm a genius in that I can learn whatever tools I'm presented with and one in which I am simply average and everyone else is a moron, I choose the latter.

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.


[ Parent ]
No (3.25 / 4) (#44)
by coryking on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 11:42:47 PM EST

It's arrogant people like you that give the computer industry a bad name. Indeed, this fustration with this "industry" has led me to get an education in something else - Electrical Engineering. I want nothing to do with software and the software "scene". Computers are nothing special, and knowing how to use them does not make you smart. Have you ever rebuilt your engine? Rewired your house (and I'm not talking networking)? How about made a really fucking good ream of paper? Have you made a strong box? Built a house? DNA Sequenced somebody's blood? You know, people have things to worry about besides just computers. You are not special because you know computers.

PS: You're one lame ass fucker to mod down people who dis-agree with you.

[ Parent ]

Yeah, well, I can =p (1.83 / 6) (#45)
by DranoK 420 on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 11:49:20 PM EST

You sound like you have a great need to defend yourself by claiming what you have done. Notice not once have I said what I do for employment, yet make assumptions. Such a lapse in reading comprehension can only be caused by a mule with a strong kick or a very insecure person.

I recommend either finding that mule for a re-match or taking that pine cone out of your ass.

Oh, by the way, I'd love to see a chemist in the middle of an experiment calling up tech support. Oh, what? She knows how to use the tools she uses?! She knows how to use a beaker and a keyboard!? Wow.

You're an idiot if you use a tool on a regular basis and don't know how to use it. Don't think that just because you happen to be too stupid to learn new things that the rest of humanity can't.

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.


[ Parent ]
Scientists & Tech Support. (none / 0) (#85)
by katie on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 04:12:40 AM EST

"Oh, by the way, I'd love to see a chemist in the middle of an experiment calling up tech support. Oh, what? She knows how to use the tools she uses?! She knows how to use a beaker and a keyboard!? Wow."

I used to write software for biochemist researchers. It included a visual scripting system, so that experiements can be automated.

Now, most of the customers had PhDs in subjects, some of them were professors of departments.. fairly bright people. (I kind of liked working there for that. You ask the people "what are you working on?" and it was a very rare day when the answer was boring. These people do not spend their day writing reports about the department's report writing workflow.)

But I have to say, their ability to understand the concept of "variables" in the scripting language was a bit... interesting. We could throw scripts together in no time. The support staff could do that as well (they were biology people, rather than IT) but some of the customers just seemed to have blind spots about some of the topics - looping, variables... that sort of thing.

After that I'm not sure computery type concepts ARE obvious, easy or even graspable by some of the population - I'm not sure everyone has the right sort of brain to understand these things at all, no matter how much effort they put in.



[ Parent ]
You are wrecking your own argument here. (4.00 / 1) (#65)
by aakin on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:39:17 AM EST

Computers are nothing special, and knowing how to use them does not make you smart.

If that were the case, then an user should have no problem figuring out how to use them. Yet they do. With the most inane things, too. I mean, seriously, how hard is it to figure out that you need to turn both the monitor and the cpu off in order to power down a computer? People figure out that you have to shut off your headlights and turn off the ignition separately; why can't they grasp that two different pieces of equipment have different power switches? They just see that it is a computer, and shut their brains off, because they are not computer people! There is no reason that an industry has to exist to support that. If someone is really that stupid, they shouldn't be in the workforce. If they aren't, then they are just being incredibly brain-lazy, and there is no reason someone else should have to deal with that.

[ Parent ]
I agree (none / 0) (#75)
by epepke on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 05:12:46 PM EST

As a software developer, I agree with this. My current coup in progress is to replace the invoice/manager's check system for more than a hundred hotels from an unwieldy batch process to one with an interface that looks like a check with a check register. They tell me that the demo at the managers' meeting last Thursday drew actual cheers.

But, guess what! Help desk techs don't write software, so there's no use in shouting at them. The last time I worked as first tier support was twenty years ago, and I'd almost rather rip my eyes out with grapefruit spoons than do it again. Help desk people have to deal with extremely crappy software over which they have absolutely no control.

There's another problem, though, which is exemplified by your attitude: There is nothing special about computers!! They are just tools! Notice that I do in-house software development. That is because in-house development is one of the few arenas where I am permitted to do good work. It takes care, thought, and design to produce a good piece of software, and it is always easier to throw some buttons at a problem than to find the correct unifying principles. The people in charge of buying software do not choose in favor of usability. If anything, they will feel contempt for a well designed piece of software because it is easy to use and must therefore be a toy. They want lots of buttons and functions and buzzwords, because that's there idea of what is professional. They like bloatware, vaporware, and nice ties, and that's about it.

After all, they say to themselves: there is nothing special about computers; they are just tools. Software is software, right? Actually, there is a great deal that is special about computers. The number of ways to make software that is usable is infinitessimal compared to the number of ways to throw it together. Why are there so many applications that work pretty well most of the time but every once in a while they destroy everything? Because that's easy to do, and software purchasers don't make a distinction between them and ones that work well. This is why I do in-house development instead of shrink-wrapped.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Lesson in Language (none / 0) (#78)
by virg on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 05:39:42 PM EST

> You wonder why there is not a dedicated staff for cars, or can openers? Because they are designed so well that their use is intutative.

Your definition of "intuitive" demonstrates your misunderstanding of why computers are more difficult to use than other familiar devices. I ask you to consider, why do you think a car is intuitive? If you handed, for example, Ben Franklin a set of keys and pointed him at your car do you think he'd be able to operate it safely? Did you simply climb into a car for the first time and drive well, or did you have to practice for a while to get it right? Why does one need a license to operate a car if it's simple to do? Why do teenagers get in so many more accidents than older people if it's so damned intuitive?

The simple fact is that many people who don't want to learn to use a computer actively avoid doing so, not because they're incapable (I've met very, very few pwople who couldn't grasp computers if they truly wanted to do it), but because they've been told that they shouldn't have to do it. You can talk all you want about how a computer is just a tool, but it's a very complex tool capable of many, many tasks, and that inherent complexity means that it takes some practice to understand how it works. You don't have to understand the totality of the computer to use it correctly, just as you don't have to be an automotive designer to drive, but every tool requires some practice in its use, and assuming that computers can't violate this rule simply because they're badly designed is a mistake. They're hard to use in part because of bad progam design, but saying that any and all learning curve can be eliminated simply through "intuitive" design assumes too much intuition. To take a real world example, in the beginning, my aunt could understand that her TV and VCR needed to be powered up and powered down independently, but could not grasp the same about the computer and monitor. Why is one more intuitive than the other? The answer is that it wasn't; my aunt was simply more comfortable experimenting with the remote than the power buttons on the PC. She has since learned a vast amount about computers, simply by our telling her that she should not be afraid to break it. When she got over her fear of the technology, she got over her false sense of entitlement to be ignorant.

If there's any failing in the technical services industry, it's that we don't try to help people get over their fear of the machinery as much as we should. Still, that does not excuse end users from responsibility to understand their tools, any more than a construction worker not understanding the use of a nail gun because he doesn't understand its inner workings or thinks it's "new fangled".

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
cars? intuitive? (none / 0) (#90)
by Tyberius Prime on Wed Mar 27, 2002 at 06:58:35 AM EST

So that's why you have to have
driver's ed/learners permit just about everywhere before they let you on the road?
Because driving a car is intuitive?
What world do you live in, sir?

(I do not need to understand how a computer shifts bits to use it. But I sure should be at least able to 'drive' it).

[ Parent ]
I dont know where to start. (3.20 / 5) (#47)
by eviltwin on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 04:33:24 AM EST

Tech support managers such as yourself have forcibly created a niche for their usually inadequate resumes that normally wouldn't land them a job with the label of "professional". Why? Because tech support managers like you have brilliantly managed to convince users that zero knowledge of computers is OK. Furthermore, you have convinced the company that employs you of this exact same thing.

Boy have I really pissed you off. Inadequate resume? zero knowledge?

Ok then let's dance. What's your current job? I spent 10 years building my 'inadequate' resume - you really want to see it I will post it here. NOT ONE bullshit cert on it - everything I am and everything I have achieved I have done myself on my bat - I have NEVER taken ONE seconds training and I started out in a helpdesk just like the guys I employ. Unlike you I have NO superiority complex, I earned my job and I'm fucking good at it may I say.

As for the Zero Knowledge crap I could spend the next year showing you the level of crap in that argument - but I will not aside from this - If you think IT managers have ANYTHING to do with a company's training or hiring then you have NEVER worked in IT - we are hired to support systems and people full stop. I have written memoranda after memoranda and reports out my arse to people in companies it have worked at about the subject and will continue to do so.

Companies hire staff who are good at their jobs - if its a programmer then they are good at that it their job is to sell Real Estate like we do - that is 50 story frigging buildings worth $100 million then that's what they need to know - NO WAY would my company EVER consider computer literacy a pre-requisite for hiring someone- they need to be able to log on and use email and word and the web - that's all. My company hires the BEST people in their field and many of them are 40+ as they have the experience and 'face' as they call it - presence in the industry - their computer literacy is limited but many of them learn with training.

When Joe B. goes downtown and buys a new car and can't figure out how to drive a shift, the salesman suggests he try an automatic. When Joe blows a fuse he drags out that 200-page manual and figures out how to replace it. When Joe's car won't start he tries to figure out what's wrong on his own, checking the battery connections, etc. Only as a last resort does he even bring it back to the dealership if it's under warranty, or to a third-party auto shop if its not. Why? Because it's a pain in the ass to bring your car down and wait until it's fixed. So people learn.

This analogy has absolutely ZERO to do with the subject at hand. These people have a job to do and that's to SELL not program, they need to know the basics.

You tell people it's OK for them to not learn the tools they use 8 hours a day. That it's OK to be complete twats. Guess what would happen if an accountant used to a printing calculator was given one with an LCD display and complained all the time that it wasn't working? That's right. They'd be fired. Why? Because, frankly, it's not too much for a company to ask that you use the tools they provide for your job. But because of brain-dead fuckheads like yourself, if this calculator was instead a computer application, these people would find it perfectly acceptable to bitch every day about not understanding the concept of File->New to start a new calculation project.

We tell them nothing of the sort but we CANNOT make them learn how to use them and it's not our fucking job to do so - we SUPPORT them. And we don't get questions about making a new file - if you get those sorts of questions get a job outside of AOL.

Out of all the tools you use every day, from your washer and dryer to your car to the idiocies in shipping a package via UPS, why is it only your computer which has an entire fucking staff of its own to support? Is it because basic applications are so poorly designed that only the most brilliant among us can use them? No. Is it that computers take a ton of education to use? No. They why?
You know why - its simple - in this environment I have 247 application and 6 separate operating systems - it's not your washer and drier is it - but of course to a super hero like you that would be easy. Those apps range from Office to Terminal Emulation, we have 3 vaxen for specialized apps, they include project management tools, cognos, people soft and SAP and everything in between. Our users are spread across over 30 separate sites and we support 1500 with 10 staff in Systems Support, 5 in Server Management, 4 developers and we Out-source SAP.

Gee it's a bit more complex that that washer drier isn't it.

And computers may not take a tonne of education to use but if you're 45 or over and work in sales then I can guarantee that you have never had to learn them until now and you're struggling to catch up at the same time you're working 16 hours a day to do your job and earn income to pay our wages and for all the shiny toys.

You know what happens when someone can't figure out how to adjust their chair (and, believe me, some chairs are fucking impossible to adjust)? Do they call the chair support hotline? No. They deal with it until someone shows them how to do it. And then guess what? They remember how to do it themselves next time.

this is the MOST pathetic analogy I have ever seen - in my study here I have a Herman miller aero - it has 4 levers and I defy any one not to work it out - however on a computer there are THREE different ways to print a word document alone!

When a helpdesk person comes and fixes your app, do you just stare blankly until he leaves, or do you watch him so you can do it yourself next time?

Nope cause in a secure SOE (that's Standard Operating Environment to you) you cannot fix major app problems - only an ADMIN can - this stops things being installed over the top. PS you want to know the people we have the BIGGEST problem with? I have 6 of them - they are all in their 30's and all of them have computer science degrees and they ALL manage to fuck up their systems once a fortnight as they know more than we do.

If companies treated computers as a tool and destroyed the belief morons like you have instilled, most helpdesk personnel could be relocated to more useful jobs. There is no reason when a computer is an integral part of your job, sitting right in front of you in your cubicle and being used by you 8 or 9 hours a day for you to not know how to fuckin use it. Its incompetence.

Nope as helpdesk people don't just do what you think - my guys are all multi skilled and they manage systems, inventory, user creation, security and a whole pile of things. OH and the youngest is 22 - hardly that 18 year old. And you know the capper, the number one reason why we have to do this - because my friend to keep all these shiny systems working and keep my guys working 18 hour days the business charges $20k PER SEAT for support - in short we help them because THEY PAY US TO.

Now having said all that let me pose a couple of things to you.

  • What is your job ?
  • What is your age ?
  • Experience in REAL it ?
  • Educational background ?
You see i'm sick of this shit - you think that you can wade in here and kick my arse then SHOW your qualifications.

You called me a number of names and I have a theory on you - you're a low level tech who can't understand why he can't get a job or if he has one keeps getting passed over for promotion OR you're a student at a college who thinks that he has learnt it all OR you're a programmer who has the natural arrogance that some of them show towards people who don't fit their narrow scope.

Either way I suggest that you get some anger management classes and get a life - you have no idea what drives a business and will never learn. In short I have a link for you - Slashdot Add some anti MS screed to your post and you will fit right in.

Oh and one last thing - I can't mod you down in my own post buy maybe someone else will but as a show of gratitude for the fucking retard comments and the like I would like to extend my middle finger and in the words of ani di franco say :

FUCK YOU

Now that you can take as personal

All generalisations are false, including this one.
[ Parent ]

Wow (1.00 / 7) (#48)
by DranoK 420 on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 04:57:38 AM EST

And I thought I was lame enough to spend the time writing my tirade. Everyone else saw that as the troll it was. Why didn't you? Are you so insecure about your position that you need to "prove" it? LMAO.

I mean, what the Hell's with you? Is your goal in this world honestly to garner the sheep-like admiration from the Kuro5hin crowd? You know the saying, don't feed the trolls? It applies here.

In your ineffable stupidity you seem to actually care what little ol' me thinks on a pathetic web-based discussion site. You spend an obvious large ammount of time replying to someone who has based a negative opinion based on one short set of your ramblings.

Notice how this reply is also a troll? Notice how every other statement I make is some remark about your unquestionably below-average intellect? Does this response enrage you further? Enough to make another pathetic attempt at intelligent argument with a troll who no doubt cares what you write, since he already knows you're a complete and total twat? Or will you coil up into a fetal ball in embarrasment over falling prey to me, who would spend several minutes of is day hoping to intice anger from pathetic swabs of ear wax like you?

Go crawl back under that rock of delusional delight you so desperately ador.

This troll brought to you by DranoK and the number "3"

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.


[ Parent ]
the term troll is subjective (3.00 / 3) (#51)
by eviltwin on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 05:04:55 AM EST

yeah sure - you moderate against the story, moderate UP every negative comment and the Moderate DOWN every positive one and now you are only trolling.

You got caught out so you run for the 'its a troll argument'

HINT - i've spent 4 years on slashdot and as an IRC channel admin - i have heard them all and i have been a proffesional teoll - the screed you wrote was way to long and personal to be a 'troll' you meant it and now your'e trying to weasel out.

You DID not post as a troll - you went out of you way for some reason to attack this post.

BTW graduated high school in 1998 - if im right it makes you 22 at most and that points to the stuck in a dead end tech job or college - i suspect its the tech job which would explain your attitude.

Chill the fuck out man.

All generalisations are false, including this one.
[ Parent ]
Heh (1.75 / 4) (#53)
by DranoK 420 on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 05:19:06 AM EST

One thing every troll knows is never divert the flaming to himself. So instead of giving specifics, let me just say this about myself: I am very happy with my life, my boyfriend, my social life and my job. In concerns to that job, let me just say that I would feel content working the job I've done for the past 2 years for the rest of my life with no promotions. Is it a computer job? Well, if you're clever enough you can find out on your own. In any case, I find my particular line of work very interesting and consider myself something of an expert in the field, and have been propperly recognized and rewarded by my company. The clue that I would be happy working in my current position for the rest of my life implies I either 1) have low expectations for my enjoyment of life, or 2) my current position completely kicks ass.

Do I deal with users? Of anything? No. I don't talk to employees, support staff, or customers. In fact, the only people I deal with on a regular basis is my supervisor once a week for a status update (I create my own projects, timelines and proceedures) and the occasional interview when we're in the need of new employees. My salary is far more than necessary to keep me at the job (not that I say 'no' to the bi-annual raise), and although I'm not at liberty to discuss exact details, I can say that my domestic partner is fully covered in all things.

As for education? Well, I received a presidential scholarship to a University which payed for everything (both tuition and room) as well as a $1600/semester stipend for books, supplies, etc. I graduated with a HS GPA of 3.95 (damn drafting course) and a SAT score of 1400 (720 vocab 680 math), and dropped out of college during my second semester with a GPA of 4.0. This should say a little something about my educational opinions -- not high of the US system, I might add.

Sigh. I'd be far more hostile if I were more awake. You're still a twat tho.

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.


[ Parent ]
Im not actually a twat (3.00 / 2) (#55)
by eviltwin on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 05:36:59 AM EST

Im simply used to mis targeted slashdot abusers who do the stuff you did 'trolling' to cover up things.

if you were trolling then i got caught ! (i deserved it)but it sounds as though you are happy and have a good job and thats all thats important - thats all i'm saying in my post that not all bosses are assholes. perhaps it says something that 5 of my staff have been with me for over 3 years and 2 companies now.

You see so do I now and I enjoy dealing with clients.

But i still think your writing shows promise and skill and i will read more stories as you post them.

I understand what you mean about education - i graudated top of my high school with a full TE score (what we used here then) of 990 out of 1000 but couldn't aford uni - im gald i didn't do it.

It is actually nice to have met you strangely enough - i wouldn't have read your older articles if you had'nt trolled me.

Have fun.

All generalisations are false, including this one.
[ Parent ]

So, to step out of the shoes of a troll (1.00 / 1) (#69)
by DranoK 420 on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 12:26:38 PM EST

for a moment, you obviously seem to care what random people on K5 think...Why? I have a hard time caring what people close to me think...let alone people I've never met and know only thru their comments.

I mean, for all you know I could be a schizofranic paranoid conspiracy-searching nihilist. Would my opinion still matter then?

If you truly enjoy dealing with customers and other employees then I envy you. In this world there are very few bi-pedal creatures I have affection toward.

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.


[ Parent ]
I used to be a hard bastard (4.00 / 1) (#76)
by eviltwin on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 05:13:33 PM EST

Then i lost my mind for a while and almost lost it all and afterward i found i needed to be around people - trust me i used to be a real asshole.

The fact is you could very well be a nutcase but what harm does it take to write a post to you or anyone - takes 2 seconds and you can meet some interesting people. One of my best online friends in IRC is anm inverterate troll and channel bomber - yet hes a nice guy who just likes to stir people.

Besides even crazy people often have things to say, I have worked part time as a depression counsellor dealing with manic depressives and paranoid schizophrenics, most of them are highly intelligent people underneath all the problems.

I enjoy helping people - at the end of the day i earn a very good wage and have an excellent job, but having someone say thank you for helping them counts - its not something everyone can do but trying to do a nice thing for one person every day is a great thing.

The world has enough intolerance in it from religious intolerance to sexual preference thru to race and even the color of peoples hair. A person i barely knew is responsible for me being alive today because he was worried enough to see if i was ok, he was only a friend of a friend but he cared enough to do it.

Thats life, c'est la vie.

Although i understand the trolling - it can be fun !

All generalisations are false, including this one.
[ Parent ]
Something I dont understand (3.00 / 2) (#49)
by eviltwin on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 04:58:48 AM EST

I have actually just read all of your other work, and your diary and what i saw was a writer with some incredible talents - i found the rational evolution one escpecially intersting and well done. In light of that i simply do not understand the abuse you threw at me ? I have never met you or expressed any views against you but instead of a rational and intelligent post in a fucking retard? I admire people your age who can write well, my chosen career (did'nt work out) was journalism but in stooping to personal abuse you invalidated the argument you were trying to make. I dont understand why every Pro post in this article has been modded down by you and every negative one has been modded up? Fine you didn't like the story and voted against but then to personally attack me shows an issue here - its not personal as i am in Australia and have never been to the US so we have'nt met. So what is it?. Not all helpdesk managers are like dilbert, some of us are human beings who used to be helpdesk staff. You can respond if you want to be intelligent as i welcome the discussion but if its more personal insults dont bother - my repsonse will be the same as last time.

All generalisations are false, including this one.
[ Parent ]
Because I'm a troll (1.00 / 6) (#50)
by DranoK 420 on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 05:01:48 AM EST

What part of that can't your donkey-beat brain comprehend?

I'm just a troll with decent writing abilities.

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.


[ Parent ]
bullshit (1.60 / 5) (#52)
by eviltwin on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 05:06:24 AM EST

bullshit if you were a troll you sure as fuck would'nt be bothering to reply like this - you would have gotten you bite and be pissing yourself.

All generalisations are false, including this one.
[ Parent ]
Glad to know (1.50 / 4) (#54)
by DranoK 420 on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 05:19:41 AM EST

what your definition of troll is. How, exactly, does this influence mine?

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.


[ Parent ]
Why don't people understand? (3.60 / 5) (#42)
by vadim on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 11:00:50 PM EST

Even my own mother sometimes tells me with a quite annoyed voice that I have to understand people's lives don't revolve around computers, so I have to help them no matter how stupid the request is.

The answer I give is: Since when are computers the only thing you aren't required to know? I haven't seen anybody screaming about the unfairness of having to learn to use the things present in every house like electricity, gas and water. Every time you get something, TV, VCR, radio... you have to learn how to use it at least a bit. You don't go to the nearest person to nag him/her about that you're too lazy to read the manual for the VCR and that s/he should be so nice to record something for you

People somehow also don't understand the conecept of "the right tool for a job". Nobody in his/her mind will use a hammer when a screwdriver is needed. No, sorry, I'm not going to help you if you ask me to use a spreadsheet for something that needs a relational database! I understand that people have braindead bosses and tough lives, but when people ask me for help I expect some effort from them.

That's why I think tech support shouldn't be like it is. I don't want to call my ISP and find out that they don't know what is a news server. I'd like to find somebody with a clue on the other side, and who wouldn't mind giving a good explanation so that I wouldn't need to call again.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.

It's a matter of knowing the tools for your job. (4.00 / 1) (#66)
by aakin on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:46:15 AM EST

If you want to hold a job that requires using a computer, you should know the basics. If you want nothing to do with computers, and don't work with them, or use them at home, there is no reason you should have to learn about them. But if you go and try to apply for a job in a carpentry shop never having used a lathe, you'd get laughed out of the interview. So why is it that people who sit in front of a computer all day long don't know anything about it?

Now note, I'm not saying that they should be able to fix any problem that comes up. But the majority of the kind of calls that the helpdesk at my job gets shouldn't be coming from people that have been using a computer 8 hours a day for the last 5-10 years.

[ Parent ]
Missing a poll option (3.50 / 2) (#59)
by Betcour on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 07:23:37 AM EST

I'd have voted for "brainless morronic senseless idiot users". Everything else is bearable.

Literate, not experts (3.25 / 4) (#71)
by epepke on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:17:11 PM EST

The truck driver might not be able to fix his rig, but he generally knows phrases like "flat tire" and can articulate better than "it doesn't go."


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


HOLY FUCK (2.00 / 1) (#72)
by Gehenna Gehenna on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 02:38:39 PM EST

I, aHEM, work on a help desk.. Supporting 2000+ apps, 5,000+ people on a global scale. Not just any people mind you, investment bankers/equity traders. Whatever.

If I
A)do not treat my users like they are my favorite people to talk to on the planet, or
B) do not fix their fucking problems ASAP then I am
C)unemplyed.

'Nuff said

"Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something. "

- last words of Pancho Villa (1877-1923)
It would be nice, wouldn't it? (4.00 / 1) (#80)
by dead_radish on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 06:22:12 PM EST

Your situation would be nice. And if you have 10 agents, supporting a smallish company, maybe it works.

I work with about 250 people, supporting what is, officially, a fsckload of users.

I'm not helpdesk - I'm support (external). But it still applies.

I have issues with a lot of this, but lemme put down a few in particular.

All too often in it support the attitude to users is negative, they forget passwords, lock accounts, lose files, install stuff they shouldn't etc. But the fact is that users are the reason we have a job in IT, without them there is nothing to support.

And yet when they blame <u>me</u> for their actions, it quickly gets old. The user that calls up and says "Oh, man. I deleted this file, and something's wrong. What do I do?" gets a cookie, and happy support. The user (more commonly) that calls up and says "Fix this damn piece of software. I didn't even touch it, and now the thing isn't working!" gets a grumpy agent. It's reality.

The key to supporting users is empathy and understanding. You put yourself in their role

The key to getting effective support is empathy and understanding. You put yourself in their role.

Same thing applies both ways. If you're pleasant to me, I'm pleasant to you. If you're not, I'm not.

And when I call for support, I act in a manner entirely different from the average user. I listen. I state my problem as well as I can. I listen some more. I follow directions. And then it works. Amazing, that.

the fact is the majority of customer contact comes at Level 1 and 2 where the Helpdesk and Desktop Support teams are, Level 3 has much less and Level 4 and up hardly ever speak to customers.

Because lvl 3 and lvl 4 have better things to do than deal with basic user level issues. They are working on broad based problems, global issues, etc. And they have a lot more experience, training, and knowledge. If I dealt with front-line customers all day, I would go mad. And it would be a waste of my knowledge.

This means helpdesk or desktop support - walking the floor and talking to clients.

This is a lovely fluffy and useless idea.

There's a reason that I'm working in my department - 1. they need me 2. I have the knowledge to work here. To put me on the frontlines not only annoys me, it wastes me as a resource. How many mail admins, server support folks, unix admins, etc out there have more time than they need? How many sit around going "Gee, I have no work. Damn."? None. They are already working harder than they can and pressed for time. To take 4 hours out of their week to be a frontline agent (while calls queue up in their group, and things break more, and projects fall behind) sounds lovely. And is horribly bad.

There's more, but I have calls now. ;)


I knew I shoulda brought a crossbow. -- Largo. www.megatokyo.com

users being idiots... (none / 0) (#84)
by knightbg on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 01:37:01 AM EST

I find, working support at a very prominent american university (supposedly populated with very smart people...) that the best approach is to
  1. always assume that the user is an idiot
  2. never treat them like one.
My reasoning is that assuming that someone knows something that they don't is one very easy way to get them upset and frustrated. another way is to belittle them. i find that i actually have a lot of difficulty giving my family technical support, because i know that they are not dumb, and i know i have told them certain things before.

Deja Vue (none / 0) (#87)
by technik on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 01:04:40 PM EST

I wrote this article, The Egoless Admin, more than two years ago and it is still a good read on the topic of how to handle users.

flame away.

- technik

Good article (none / 0) (#91)
by eviltwin on Wed Mar 27, 2002 at 08:48:19 AM EST

A great read, its nice to find someone who thinks along the same lines as you

All generalisations are false, including this one.
[ Parent ]
Take an autoshop class (none / 0) (#88)
by Gwen on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 08:08:47 PM EST

Here's what happened to me:

Last year, I took an autoshop class as one of my optionals for grade 10. I was looking for something differnt. Something other then the regular academic classes like history and science and computers and all. Man, was it a lesson about how I behave in my computing classes.

My dad's been in IT since the 80s. We had a Mac Classic to start with and have had computers since then. I was raised with them. They're second nature to me. I can figure out how to do most stuff on my own. They seem mostly, well, simple and easy.

I never understood anyone who didn't get computers as easily as I did. The people who couldn't figure out how to turn on a lab Mac and type up a document in ClarisWorks, pick a printer and print it. That just baffelled me.

Them I took autoshop. Everyone in that class knew what they were doing. They knew what a carberator is and where it's located, and they knew how to change a tire. I knew nothing. While they had been raised on cars, as I had been on computers, I was jsut as lost in the shop as most of them would have been in a computers class.

What was a passion for them... different cars, different models, modifying cars, getting their own cars etc, was something I was just vaguely interested in. Much the same was as I imagine they would view one of *my* conversations about different makes and models of computers and OS' and hacks and tweaks etc.

While I did very poorly in the class and was miserable, because not only was I the only girl in the class, but everyone there was from a completely different social group and stayed away from me, I did learn a lot about people, corny as it sounds. I have a lot more sympathy fro someone who isn't so naturally good at computers as I am.

So I would advise anyone who's upset with thinking their users or collegues are idiots to go talk with someone who knows about completely different things then you. Talk to a plumber, an auto mechanic. Get a lit proffessor to critisize your writing. Or try to do your user's job for a day. Can you preform secretarial tasks very efficiently? Can you run the buisiness? Can you sell stuff?

Just my 2 cents, as it were.


--
"So raise your hands in the air like you're born again
But make a fist for the struggle we was born to win"
-The Coup ft. Dead Prez, Get Up!


Re-Engineering the Helpdesk - Supporting users in a new world | 92 comments (83 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
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