Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Outcome Is Not Guaranteed

I have always thought of people as fundamentally optimistic. If someone tells us something, we usually believe it. When we buy something, we expect that it will work. We have a symptom, we see a doctor, we get a prescription, and we believe that we will get better.

I've also always thought that this is a naïve approach. Not everyone gets better. Things don't always work as advertised. And this is as true in computer support as it is in health care. No matter how we may wish to make everything perfect, fast, easy, and reliable, we can't always do so. Sometimes the outcome is a frustrated person on each end of the phone or help chat. The support person wants to make things work as the end-user expects; the end-user or expects that it's going to be fixed right now.

As hard as it is for many of us to absorb, not everyone gets well, or has their symptoms ameliorated. Some medical conditions fail to improve; likewise, some computer issues don't respond even after hours of work. There are so many variables in each case.

So, when you are faced with a computer issue and contact your support provider, bear in mind that the outcome may not be as you wish, but you can help minimize the chances that this will happen. The better communication you have with either your health care provider or your computer support person, the more likely you are to get your particular issue resolved.

Some helpful hints for getting the best results from computer support:

  • Be honest - if you dropped the laptop, admit it. You'll save yourself and the support person lots of time.
  • Be patient - lots of variables mean lots of questions and maybe some failed fixes.
  • Be understanding - if you are trying to connect to your office from a hotel, be aware that the service desk at your company has no control over the hotel network, and may not be able to make things work for you
  • Be compliant - if you're asked to restart, or unplug, or call the hotel front desk, please act in your own best interest.
  • Be trusting - don't immediately call your "cousin Bob, who knows a lot about computers" after the support person tells you that you need to do x, y, or z. The support person may, in fact, not be as smart as "cousin Bob," but may have information that Bob does not have about the network, or model of computer, or the state of the Internet at that particular time.
One more request: If you do figure out what the problem was, or if the symptom stops happening, let the support folks know. Believe it or not, we worry about these things, and often spend our off-hours reading and researching the fixes for unresolved issues.

Now, reboot and don't forget to take your medicine.

Give it some thought.

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