Bad tech support. Bad, bad tech support!

Examples of very bad Service Desk calls.

Putting this into Advice Line is a stretch, but sometimes a man just has to vent his spleen, because unvented spleens can be downright nasty, bucko.

It was tech support day at IT Catalysts. I had one of those calls, to a provider whose tech support person's lack of competence was perfectly matched with his certainty he knew the source of a problem he didn't first ask me to describe.

Once he heard "e-mail" that was all she wrote. The problem was with another company, not theirs; it was with my Outlook setup, and so on. Never mind that his company's servers had sent the error message he refused to look at.

Not to be outdone, my business partner Steve decided to "upgrade" to Norton Internet Security 2009. Several BSOD's later (that's "Blue Screens of Death" for those who have never had the pleasure) he contacted Norton tech support.

Their diagnosis: "We think your system has a virus."

In addition to being a wrong diagnosis (downgrading to Norton 2008 fixed the problem), there's another problem with it that's obvious to fans of accidental irony: If the diagnosis had been accurate it would have meant Norton 2009 doesn't work at all.

Lesson for internal IT: Don't do that. Specifically, make sure everyone on the Service Desk listens first to make sure they accurately understand the problem. Second, make sure their troubleshooting procedure isn't a fixed, linear series of steps based only on the technology in use, independent of any description of the symptoms.

And third, ask them to avoid saying anything that's obviously stupid.

How? Manage the Service Desk the way any other call center manager takes care of things: Listen to a statistically significant sample of calls every week.

Well, okay, it's a stretch, but this is Advice Line, not Off the record.

- Bob

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.