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Confessions of a help desk tech

By Joseph Rudd

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start quoteFrustration often clouds [callers'] minds, and, as a result, they're not in the best position to listen and follow directions.end quote
-- Help desk tech

Editor's Note: Joseph Rudd, 25, of Carrabelle, Florida, works in tech support for a real estate company. In 2001, he worked briefly as a phone help desk technician for an Internet service provider. He wrote about his experiences as a tech.

(CNN) -- The general public doesn't have a clue what techs go through.

Many computer users are computer illiterate. There are many times when I've had to teach someone how to use the most basic functions of their computer while troubleshooting their tech problem. I've sometimes felt like a mechanic who's teaching someone how to drive while trying to fix their engine at the same time. Most of the people who call for help don't even know what operating system they're using -- even though they've spent their money buying the machine.

When you work at a help desk, there's often a time limit, and you can get in trouble for spending too much time with one caller. Sometimes techs are given scripts that they must follow even though the scripts might not have all of the solutions. A tech might know the solution to the problem, but management won't allow him or her to use that solution because it might interfere with other software functionality, thus increasing the company's liability.

Your computer is a lot like a car. You have many different parts working together to make the vehicle move, stop, turn, etc. With software and computers, you have many different companies trying to work in a similar manner, which doesn't always happen because of a lack of testing and such. It's also nearly impossible to get one piece of software to work flawlessly on so many different interchangeable hardware configurations.

A tech also has to take the caller's attitude into consideration. Callers are often frustrated at the problems they're having, and they tend to take it out on tech support. Their frustration often clouds their minds, and, as a result, they're not in the best position to listen and follow directions.

Next time you call your software help desk, please try to remember that the techs are people, too: People who need to make a living and are often just as unhappy with the company's emphasis on profit over service.

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