Help desk confounded by helplessness

Two tales from the help desk prove that you can't fix clueless

Help desk confounded by helplessness

I work in tech support at a bank and encounter a wide variety of interactions; they're part of the job. The ups and downs keep us on our toes, but some users are simply frustrating to work with -- and don’t even seem to try. These users are vague on details and want a quick fix, with little concern for cause or effect, no matter how many times the same basic problem happens again and again.

We all have our ways of coping with such requests and staying very, very patient. Sometimes I crack a joke to help distract myself so that I don’t get aggravated by the situation. But patience … always patience.

Tech support is a two-way street

One user, “Jane,” admittedly does not know much about technology. But at what point can you say enough is enough?

Granted, she only calls whenever she has an IT-related issue and not, say, a problem with the coffeemaker. But the issues are mostly simple and I shouldn't need to walk across the building to fix them -- but she always insists I come to her desk to deal with the problem.

One time she called and said there was a pop-up message on her screen. She didn't understand what the system wanted of her. Her conclusion: The computer wasn’t working.

I asked her to read the message to me, but for some reason she said she could not, instead begging me to have a look.

Fortunately, before I left my desk a colleague who worked near her and is more comfortable with technology called me back. He said it wasn’t necessary for me to come over and the system was simply asking her to log back in because she had been thrown out -- she only needed to hit the OK button.

Thanks to my colleague, I didn't have to walk across the building to hit an OK button ... this time.

Why even try?

The second experience was with a user we’ll call "Eric."

Eric had been having problems with his desktop. We were preparing to give him a new machine. But before we did, the temporal resolution for his problem was to restart the machine whenever the problem occurred. However, whenever he tried to restart it didn't seem to work, so we’d end up going out to him.

Then one day, out of curiosity, I asked him to restart the machine in my presence.

Astonishingly, he turned off only the monitor and turned it back on. That was it. “See?” he said. “It never works!”

I wondered whether he ever paid attention to us when we restarted his machine so many times in front of him, walking him through it, asking him questions, and showing him what to do.

Apparently not -- IT pro, meet brick wall.

Anyway, the calls continue. Sometimes, you can't do much but find new ways to count to 10 or crack jokes to stay patient.