Friday, October 07, 2005

Educate your users...For What ?

If there is a more startling revelation, that would be that users that you support are a lot like your parents. How is that so? You might ask. Allow me to illustrate mine point:

1). You can’t choose your parents and neither can you choose your users. In fact, most of the time, they choose you.

2). They would normally know less about the things that you do, try asking your parent to program the VCR. It is the same in the case of the users. Some of them have problem to even use the computer properly.

3). A strange unknown fear which is largely unfound. Most of my user fear the Helpdesk operator, Just my parent fear the devilish bad influence that is known as the computer game.

4). Being wrong. How many times when you look up to your parent only to realize that a later stage, they are wrong. While I do not look up to my users in the field of computer application, half the time, they are wrong about the ills in their computer.

5). Pinning the blame on you. How many times when it is your best friend next door that started the fight and you ended up paying for it because your parent says that you are the one who taunted the fight. I have users that, by my call to him, place the woes that he faced with his computer, as solely my fault and expect me to pay for it.

You might be wondering what inspired this post. Well, the straw that broke the camel’s back happened when I received a very interesting mail. It was actually a reply of an earlier broadcast that I sent informing them that we had completed the maintenance on some of the application servers during lunch. A very explicit note to contact helpdesk in the event of any problem faced in English (I do know of some incidence that someone actually sent me a written instruction of about 300 pages in 7 different language, none of them in English)

To my horror, I think the user decided that a mail to me was not enough. He sent it out by selecting reply to all. Well, now the entire world knows it and that I was fuming inside while fixing the problem and restoring the service. Maybe in the future, I should add the line (Do not reply to sender) least to say that this was not the most pleasant of experience and that the only thing I can do is to bite the bullet and forward that email to the helpdesk to follow up. So much for email etiquette. I might need to check the user’s mail client and see if the send to function was disabled by some freak accident or explained caused. Maybe the alien abducted it.

While fixing that problem, I had a user that decided to tell me her sob story with the helpdesk and started to ask me what exactly is wrong with her mailbox. Well, to tell you the truth, after 5 min on the line and actually looking at her system on the spot, I will profess that I have absolutely no idea. I also had no formal training on the mail system. All I have is just 5 yrs of experience working with the darn thing and what they call, common sense. Checking the mailbox, it seems like it is about 2GB. Now, I am very much for pushing the limits. I also understand that there is a need to retain all your information for posterity. But this is pushing it. And to expect such a big file to be fine after stuffing it. Well, try choking yourself with big Macs for every single meal for 3 years. Michael Moore did it for 30 days and it almost kill him (It also make him famous)
It goes for mailbox. A physical mailbox can only takes so much, likewise for an electronic mailbox to go before it starts to go haywire.

There are also incidences when the users comeback to us telling us that they do not like to call Helpdesk. As the helpdesk will take control of their system and that they do not have the time. I was hearing it while I was sitting at their desk, commandeered their workstation and working on their workstation. Anyway, I will be damned; I actually started working at the helpdesk when we did not have any means to connect to the user’s computer. Yes, read my lips, no connection. The users had to do what we tell them and that we relied on them to tell us what they see on the screen and tell us what is happening. If the users asked us to go over, it would have been a bit difficult as we are not even on the same continent and they want help, they want it, now! Without a teleporter back then, and without my trusty Spell casting and teleporting for dummies, I would have to rely on a lot of imagination and patience to put myself into my user’s shoe, and to think like the user. Trust me, thinking in the state of brain blank is extremely difficult. And you wonder why all Helpdesk Operators talks like blonde…

And if you are not someone that is in the IT industry and think that I am being unfair, just this little anecdote:

I was an intern manning the helpdesk as a first level operator, my job as with the other intern were tasked to answer calls from our customers and to raise this ticket to our level 2 support. My fellow intern was giving me a look not unlike that of a kangaroo staring into a floodlight. He asked me what to do when the user lost their dinosaur. This got my and our manager’s attention and we proceeded to find out more. Only after 5 minutes into the phone, did we realized that the users lost the dinosaur (Which incidentally is the customized icon) on her own PC and not the terminal that we support and that she called us because they paid for support. On top of which, she is actually the secretary to the top guys at one of our local bank and that we should solve her problem because they handle a lot of transaction on that PC. To top it off, she actually tell us that her in house PC support refused to support as it is against company policy to customize the PC.

Also to note, this is one the longest entry and it certainly took the longest time. It is about 2 days in production that broke my personal record of 30mins.

If you are offended, I am sorry, I still think that you are ok. Just stay away from that PC next to you.


The Student said...

Gee...guess that's one job I am avoiding.

putitthisway said...

good, its a long road of suffering... it does have its fair share of rewards, some money can't buy