Confessions of a Helpdesk Manager


I’ve been a tech-geek for…a long time. I can still remember the thrill I felt when as a kid I tinkered with the BIOS on my mom’s broken 386, and fixed a boot disk error. I felt like some kind of technological Gandalf (Landalf? Bitdalf? Techdalf? Gandot?…bah!). Since that time I’ve become de facto tech support for my friends, family, and more recently/officially, local business owners.

You run into all kinds situations in the world of IT support. Whether in web design and hosting, client software/hardware, or the wonderful world of mobile devices (gag!), support tasks are as varied as the people who submit them. I’ve had some real doozies come across my desk, and what follows is a small sample of some of my favourites (abridged and edited for your reading pleasure).

Phone rings.

“Good morning! You’re speaking to Ryan, grand overseer of all things online – how may I assist you today, friend?”

“Hi Ryan, my name’s 60-Year Old Businessman. My Google is broken, can you look at it for me?”

“I can certainly try, 60-Year Old Businessman…”

I both love and loathe this kind of call. I love them because I know the solution is often something simple; the client isn’t connected to the internet, and they are trying to use Chrome to view a website – easy peasy!

On the other hand I loathe them, because sometimes the issue is much deeper. The client’s browser has been hijacked, or their PC is filled to the brim with malware, or their IP actually has been blacklisted by The Google. They will adamantly deny any wrongdoing on their part, until finally they remember clicking that link in the email from Pat Sajak, who was simply trying to invite them to be on Wheel of Fortune. Fuckin’ Pat Sajak.

Phone rings.

“Good afternoon! This is Ryan, Web Warrior and Companion of the Code – how may I assist you today, friend?”

“You host my website, and it’s broken. What did you do?”

“I can certainly take a look, good sir. Do you recall when the site last worked?”

“Last night, before I logged in and deleted a bunch of things…”

These kinds of calls are horrifying from beginning to end. The client wants help, but they also want to make it very clear that it’s not their fault. They know what they are doing (which is why they pay us for managed support, right?), and simply don’t have enough time to fix it themselves. The easy answer here is to restore the site from backup (you do have backups, right?), and tell the client to be careful in the future.

But there are those few who insist you explain every detail of what happened. This is a difficult conversation to have, because you need to describe what went wrong without actually blaming the client outright. Don’t mistake me, it’s important the client knows what they did was stupid, but you can’t damage your relationship with them by telling them just how stupid they are.

Phone rings.

“Good evening! You’ve reached the magical desk of Ryan, purveyor of all things internet. How may I assist you today, friend?”

“My internet isn’t working. Can you fix it?”

“I can certainly try, good sir. May I have your name?”

“Sure, it’s Guy Who Never Paid His Internet Bill.”

“Okay, Bill – may I call you Bill? Let me explain a few things to you…”

Considering how much is done on the internet these days, it just BLOWS my mind when the people who rely on it for business (usually in the rural areas) neglect to pay their service bill. While you may not need it to live, if you run your own business, you use the internet. Period.

The excuse is almost always, “But the service out here is terrible!”, and they don’t feel they should have to pay for it if it never works. “You know what, you’re absolutely right! But as you don’t currently have another service installed, what did you think was going to happen when they shut you off for lack of payment?” BONK!

From: Mr. Owns a Business (president@somecompanyname.com)
Subject: Increase your penis bigger in just 3 days!
Date: Feb 8, 2016 3:30:58 PM CST
To: Ryan (ryan@leet.g33k)

Helo Good Sir,

Have you been thinking penis bigger?
Our pills come way cheap and work big!
Click this link to penis bigger!

Sincerely,
8===D
From: Ryan (ryan@leet.g33k)
Subject: RE: Increase your penis bigger in just 3 days!
Date: Feb 8, 2016 3:47:28 PM CST
To: Mr. Owns a Business (president@somecompanyname.com)

Hi Owns,

While I do appreciate the kind offer,
I fear that such a move would not be
prudent at this point in my life. My
legs and spine already ache from all
of the sitting I do, and I suspect any
added penis girth might throw my entire
body out of alignment should I attempt
to stand.

I'll send our tech around tomorrow to
clean your PC. Cheers!

Regards,
Ryan
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10 thoughts on “Confessions of a Helpdesk Manager

  1. So great, although I’m sorry to hear that this is what you deal with regularly! I too mastered computer skills early on, which has resulted in my beginning the de facto tech support for my family, but I figured out a solution — I moved 5 hours away and now they bother my sister, who’s “on location” much more than I am. Although she still calls me when she’s stuck, but at least it helped a little. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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