I have a new-found admiration for IT helpdesks. No – that’s not really true. My admiration for IT helpdesks has increased from ‘healthy respect’ to ‘in awe’. As for individuals who work in these services, I don’t know how they do it.
We had a great and very successful couple of days last weekend helping my daughter settle into her new apartment. We did most everything on our ‘to do’ list when we were there…and there were one or two things left. One of which involved me sending her a printer cable. The other didn’t.
It sounded so simple. I send printer cable; we connect computer to printer; download software; install printer; and WiFi printing becomes possible. Four simple steps…one attractive outcome. Seven days later we have successfully completed the four steps…but still no WiFi printing.
I think we have carried out our four steps. I know that printing is not happening. So either we haven’t carried out the four steps…or there are more steps. Our first thought for ‘step five’ was for me to attempt (with much emphasis on attempt) an imitation of being a ‘help desk operative’. I failed. Big time. Some ninety minutes of (face) time to be precise. I even resorted to the tried and tested strategy of suggesting we ‘turn it off and turn it on again’.
I am sure it will be sorted today. We only need five more minutes. Honest.
In hindsight the flaws in my attempts to help are quite obvious. Number one – I don’t really have any idea what I am doing. A pretty big flaw. Number two – my daughter knows more than enough about computers to realise that I don’t know what I am doing. An interesting conundrum.
Unfortunately positive intent and real-time Google searches were not really enough. In addition to no experience and no qualifications…I had no script and no remote access – I thought this last two were pretty good excuses in truth. The only good news was that my ‘positive intent’ seemed to be enough to encourage my daughter to stay connected for ninety minutes. Or maybe she was just enjoying our time together…
As I think about this some more, my conclusion is that I am likely an awful recipient of IT helpdesk support. I probably have just about enough experience (but no knowledge) to be dangerous (but no help and much harm). And my willingness to search Google – and to believe everything I read – is somewhere between a great asset and a maddening weakness. And I dislike with a vengeance being asked to turn my computer off and on.
My reassurance is that that anything I report to a helpdesk will be a problem that they’ve seen before…many times. They are trained and they are professional. They are courteous and they are accommodating. They want to help and they want to help quickly.
They also know that whenever I (or anyone else) make contact with them, we will be agitated and anxious. Agitated that our normally trustworthy systems are not working. Anxious about our deadline, our work, our pictures, or our music…or just anxious about our time.
When I think back about those calls for help, I realise that helpdesks tend to be every bit as relaxed and poised, as I am tense and worried. They explicitly acknowledge, accept and apologise for my frustration. They seek to exude confidence, reassurance and understanding. At no stage do they betray any uncertainty. They show me that they care.
We will connect our printer today – my daughter and I together. And I have just worked out what I need to do…differently.