I've learned over my years in IT that the biggest lesson that we, in a service-oriented business, can remember is that the customers we support are as individual and unique as we are. They come from all levels of society, all areas of the country, and from so many different backgrounds that we cannot just group them all together. I come into their place of business, or sometimes their homes, to perform an important service -- and beyond just fixing their computer problems. I'm there to win their trust and meet their expectations, and the better I understand them, the better I can do that.
As a field service representative for a nationwide computer company, I have seen just about everything a customer can do. Here are a few of the more, er, colorful experiences.
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A hardware problem
I had a jewelry store customer that called to report that one of their terminals kept throwing characters up on the screen nonstop. The woman was very upset and demanded I get there as soon as possible. I figured it was a bad keyboard, so I grabbed some parts and headed out.
As I worked, the woman kept complaining about computers and how they were supposed to increase productivity but were more trouble than they were worth -- the usual complaints.
When I took the keyboard carrier apart, I found the culprit; a long, gold artificial fingernail was laying on the circuit board.
I held it up to the woman and asked if it was hers. She was speechless. Her face reddened as she looked at her hand and realized that her false nail had come unglued.
An anatomy problem
Another customer, same symptom -- this time it was my face that was red!
The problem was that one terminal would randomly display characters, causing data entry to slow way down. After several attempts to replace the keyboard, memory, and other parts, the problem kept returning, and I kept coming back on site to try to fix it.
Finally, I decided that I needed to stay and watch for the problem so that I could see if there was an environmental cause. Boy, was there!
It seems that whenever the rather well-endowed woman who used the terminal would reach forward to answer her phone, a certain part of her anatomy would hit the keyboard. She was obviously unaware of it, but when I spotted what was happening, I was almost too embarrassed to mention it. Some simple desktop rearrangement solved the problem.