The Care And Feeding Of Helpdesk Callers

One of the more, umm, interesting challenges of working on a Helpdesk is dealing with people's home computers. Many businesses these days have some kind of provision in place to allow employees to connect from home on an as needed, or even a full time basis.

Because the connections are almost always over an Internet connection and use some kind of browser-based interface, the Helpdesk person (me) is at the mercy of an often non-technical user and the tangled wasteland that is their home computer.

Don't get me wrong; I am probably the opposite of one of those techs who looks down their nose at a "home user", but it's a little disconcerting to realize how many people still genuinely don't know what a web browser is - particularly considering they likely use it every day.

While it can be argued that you don't need to know how fuel injection works to drive a car, you DO need to know what the steering wheel and the foot pedals do.

Even so, the main issue is not the "non-technical user" (that's why it's called a "Help" desk after all), but rather the result of the non-technical user or their kids not paying attention and clicking on every doggone thing that pops up in front of them during an evening of web surfing.

Yes, it still happens - after all these years and all the virus scares and warnings and everything else. The result are myriad toolbars, malware, optimizers, wonky browser settings et al. Many times these are the direct cause of the user not being able to get any work done because they can't connect to the office.

I hear pleas to "make it faster", as my eye is drawn to the spurious running processes even when the computer is not actually doing anything, and a veritable cornucopia of bloatware, crapware and trialware that is invariably stuffed into any recently-manufactured PC to "add value".

So, without trying to sound condescending or reproachful to the person on the other end, I fiddle around for some amount of time (at least 20 minutes, if malware removal is involved) and try to come up with a working system - or at least a system that can safely and effectively connect to the office network. Heck, I even apologize for taking so long, and thank that person for their patience.

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