Easy to Talk About, Hard To Do

Reading this blog may have given you the impression that I am the ultimate support person.  OK, I am, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have times when I drop the ball, miss things, or lose Outlook data from my wife’s computer.  (Sorry, honey.)  Don’t worry, I’m not going to go into the gory details of my domestic squabbles here. 

Before I get into my actual point, let me describe the customer interaction pattern that I preach to everyone who isn’t sick of hearing me talk about it:


  1. Listen to the customer’s problem.
  2. Communicate your plan of attack.
  3. Act on the plan.
  4. Test your fix against the problem identified in step 1 (it’s best if the customers can do this for themselves).
  5. Inform the customer of the results and any further steps needed.
  6. Repeat as needed.
    So this wasn’t a customer situation, really.  I had a friend of mine call me and tell me about several issues he was having with his computers.  He just lives down the road a bit from me, so I went over to see if I could help.  I wasn’t going to take any money for helping my friend (even though he tries to pay me every time).

To make a long story short, I fixed the problems he was having, made some recommendations for some low cost upgrades he could do, and then asked him if there was anything else he needed help with.  He told me about what he called a minor annoyance and said it really was no big deal.  Of course, Super Tech here couldn’t let that go unanswered, so I dug in and figured out the setting that controlled what was annoying him, and changed it.  And then I packed up my stuff and left amidst a shower of thanks and praises, and <ahem> a feeling of smug self-satisfaction.  (Anyone in tech support can already hear the ominous music…)

Like I said, I think I’m a pretty good tech and very good at customer service.  I have a system, for crying out loud.  I have a whole power point presentation on it.  None of this, however,  protected my ego when my friend calls me back 30 minutes later and says “I’m not sure what you did, but I just rebooted and now Outlook doesn’t work, my desktop looks completely different, and I can’t get anything to work right.”  Wow.  Total service failure.  And it was all me. 

The moral of this story is that it’s SO easy to fall down in tech support.  Whether it’s because you’re in a hurry, or you’re overworked, or you’re a chubby computer geek who lives out his super-hero fantasies by saving unsuspecting users from the dark forces of technology problems, you have to stay focused on the person you’re trying to help and think through the law of unintended consequences.  It’ll bite you every time.