Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Help for the Helpdesk Consultant

There Are NO Stupid Questions

In my four plus years working at a computer services helpdesk I have been asked some pretty off the wall questions. I have encountered people who know more than I do about computers and others who aren’t sure what the difference is between a mouse and a monitor. The director of our department use to tell us, “The only dumb question is a question unasked.” He expected the Help Desk staff to treat people with respect and no matter what help was needed we were to help them find the answers. If we couldn’t find the answers we were to find someone who could. He told us it didn’t matter if they called and asked how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop and granted while I was never asked that question I have been asked some pretty wild ones like:

“It says press “any” key to continue but where is the “any” key?”

“Why do I need an Internet Service provider? The Salesman said my laptop has the Internet card inside?”


“I somehow made my screen ¼ the size that it was. How do I make it big again?”

Regardless of the questions it doesn’t mean users are dumb. They just don’t have experience and many are very stressed when it comes to technology. They fear breaking something or messing something up. I used to joke saying “If anyone could break the internet it would be me,” and at the time I believed it. Now I build websites and assist other people in learning about computers. It is staying in touch with my old inexperienced self that helps me relate to the person I am helping and then I can ease their anxiety.

Remember, if it wasn’t for the inexperience of users, techs would not have jobs becasue everyone would be doing their own problem solving. Staff attitude can shape attitudes toward the services of the company and build or tear down the reputation from within.

Simple questions just result in simple solutions but your helpdesk staff can still get frazzled by them. They can relieve some of their impatience by sharing stories or tips in a social gathering either in a news group or occasional meetings. Regular training can also be a way to help your support staff to deal with off the wall issues like how to get rubber cement from between your keys. Over all when questions are handled with respect and understanding at the end of the day it feels good.

Feel free to share with me your stories and how you dealt with them


JanineFoster said...

One of the most common helpdesk questions I get is "Why can't I get on the internet? My computer has WIFI." I then have to explain that just because your computer has wireless capabilities doesn't mean that you can get on the internet anywhere. You must be in a wireless HotSpot. A great website to find HotSpots anywhere is

Admin said...

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DarcyR said...

One of my favorites, people are often confused as to what a Wireless Router can do for them. This was an actual recent request: “I am renting a house in the mountains of CO for the entire month of December. The house does not have internet access. Because I'll be working remotely, I'll need to access the Internet from my laptop, which is wireless capable.” Once you explain that they need service provider as the router is only hardware, they are always very appreciative for the lesson!