Feeds

back to article IT support bod? Whatever you earn, it's not enough

It might amuse you to read that one of the senior IT support managers at one of my client workplaces confessed this week that his experience of IT support 'from the other side' was disappointing. By 'from the other side', of course, I mean as a user: my colleague is not a spectral secret shopper from beyond the grave. Laurel …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Anonymous Coward

I have to remind myself everyday "I am PAID SPECIFLY NOT TO BE DICK"

12
1
Bronze badge
Joke

Are you sure?

Are you sure that's what you're paid for? check your job spec.

Mine has things like "maintain relations with departments and external suppliers", it doesn't specify how I should maintain them or whether they should be good relations.

11
0
Anonymous Coward

Hmm...

You'll go far, it's amazing how many people don't bother yet still wonder when their promotion off the helpdesk/2nd line is...

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Too true

As an IT Support person, not only are you expect to know a user's login for them but also know every nuance of every piece of software the user is using, despite the fact that they have had the training on it and you haven't. Not to mention being able to give a sensible answer about what the codes on a blue-screen mean, how the coffee machine works, what to do with their home PC, the justification behind every design choice made by Microsoft/Apple etc, have a cupboard full of spare equipment just in case someone does something stupid etc etc.

IT Support is underpaid and under appreciated by most organisations who will willingly hand over huge sums to sales people simply for order processing.

26
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Too true

I'm a developer and work in house. When it's just the development team around, we still get asked questions about all the IT support side of things, changing passwords, obscure questions about blackberrys and what not. I have fortunately now got a desk where I can slouch down so far you can't actually see if I am at my desk or not, apparently the "I don't have the access to do that, but..." doesn't filter into the average users brain. Yes, it's got so bad that basically I now hide.

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Too true

I'm also a dev. Working in an big-ish IT company it's understood that there's proper people (read: we've outsourced our IT support to some incompetent arseholes because it's cheaper) to hound over IT problems. The one that does my tits in is if you're in a pub and someone asks you what you do, which usually results in a 20 minute conversation involving some half-cut arsehole quizzing you on some banal computer problem with badly paraphrased error messages.

I've started lying about my profession.

5
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Too true

Mmm I wonder if saying I was a bra installation technician would get similar requests for assistance

4
0
Go

Re: Too true

Yeah, yeah. We're all overworked and underfucked ... get over it. If you don't like what your paid to do then get a different job. If you're going to take their money then keep your mouth shut.

1
18
Anonymous Coward

Re: Too true

> bra installation technician

Far too many men now need to wear a bra to risk this approach

3
0
Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: Too true

I want to cry reading this, it is all true.

Credit where credit is due:

Management may be the brains of the company, but IT is the blood circulation system of most companies today, and for some reason all of those MBA's keep thinking of IT like if it was the janitors or the electricians, people who should be outsourced and shouldn't be in the office.

4
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Too true

"Yeah, yeah. We're all overworked and underfucked ... get over it. If you don't like what your paid to do then get a different job. If you're going to take their money then keep your mouth shut."

Is that a thumb print on your forehead Doug?

3
1
Facepalm

Re: Too true

"I've started lying about my profession"

When I tell people I work in IT security they think I'm a security guard who watches CCTV and has a florescent yellow coat. Having to explain that I'm not a security guard and I do data governance, risk, control and threat mitigation is a long and strenuous conversation that normally end with "Ah, that sounds interesting"

It’s got to the point now that when asked I just say "I work with computers" but as soon as you say that you get the never ending friends of family and Joe from the hair dressers asking will you have a look at my PC, Laptop, WIFI router, mobile..........

IT has to be the only professions where people think you can help them out for free!

You wouldn't ask your builder friend to build you a wall for free or your sister's accountant husband to do your books for free. It just royally pisses me off to the point that all I say now is “You do know my daily rate is £500, right?"

4
0
Bronze badge

Re: Too true

It's not just IT. Back in the days when I did hardware design, I used to fix all sorts of stuff for people. TVs, VCRs, toasters, you name it.

When I moaned about it, my boss at the time said he used to tell people he was a mathematician, on account of the fact that no one at a party ever had any tricky differential equations that needed solving. Worked a treat for him.

8
0

Re: Too true

It isn't.

I know doctors, lawyers, builders, etc. and they all report the same.

Working in a certain profession means that you *will* (or, at least, *should*) know more than the general milieu about the subject. The problem is that most people (in whatever profession, or none) underestimate the diversity and complexity of other people's professions. People ask eg criminal lawyers for advice about their ongoing dispute with their neighbour over property boundaries (it happened to a friend: he told him to punch his neighbour in the face. "How will that help?" "It won't, but then I'll be able to tell you how you stand legally.")

There's even a joke about it:

A doctor and a lawyer are at a party. The doctor asks the lawyer, "People are always bothering me with questions about their health; should I bill them?"

"Absolutely!" replies the lawyer, "They're asking you for services, based on years of training and your standing as a medical professional. Of course they should be prepared to pay for your insight!"

Two days later, the doctor received an invoice from the lawyer.

5
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Too true

You want to do what in a Word document? See that lady over there, yes I know she's a typist and gets paid half of what I do, but she uses Word all day and every day, and can do wizard things withit.

Is that possible in Excel? I don't know, but that person over there in the accounts department can do stuff in Excel I never dreamed of, and if it can be done, she'll know how.

My database server isn't feeding your Excel spreadsheet the right numbers? Are you sure? You are? I'm your man: have a seat and tell me all about it!

4
1
Thumb Up

Re: Too true

Excellent application of delegation!

0
0
Trollface

Re: Too true

>Yeah, yeah. We're all overworked and underfucked ... get over it. If you don't like what your paid to do then get a >different job. If you're going to take their money then keep your mouth shut.

I did. It didn't help. There are no jobs that do not have "clients" or "users" or [insert word with same meaning] and they all persistently refuse to know even a modicum of what they should know given their jobs and educational level, or even apply what they putatively learned in order to graduate.

2
0

Re: Too true

"You wouldn't ask your builder friend to build you a wall for free or your sister's accountant husband to do your books for free. It just royally pisses me off to the point that all I say now is “You do know my daily rate is £500, right?""

Um, people do that _all the time_. I keep my sister-in-law's computers more or less working for free, she does my glasses for free. It's the barter system, it's only several fecking millennia old.

If anything I'm amazed how many 'IT people' think their skills are something rare and special that should on no account be gifted or traded to friends or family. I repeat, contrary to the above bizarre assertion, all sorts of people do this all the time.

0
0

Re: Too true

This is one of many advantages of being a Linux/Unix specialist. 99% of these situations give me an easy "sorry, I don't know anything about Windows" out. And a bloody good reason never to learn anything about Windows!

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Too true

You could try using my response, 'You're asking me for a consultation then ? You do understand that it's £60 per hour, payable upfront ?'

0
0
Facepalm

Re: Too true

"I've started lying about my profession"

When I tell people I work in IT security they think I'm a security guard who watches CCTV and has a florescent yellow coat. Having to explain that I'm not a security guard and I do data governance, risk, control and threat mitigation is a long and strenuous conversation that normally end with "Ah, that sounds interesting"

Sounds familiar. I was registering as 'looking for work' one time and actually got asked whether I had my own dog!

0
0
Thumb Up

After 40+ years in computing I can only agree with you. Customer Support (Helpdesk?, call it whatever you want) can be hell at times and is surely appreciated nowhere near as much as it should be. Glad I'm out of it now.

4
0
Anonymous Coward

I'm not first line support, so the real mundane stuff is never meant to get to me. But if I get the filtered, important stuff, I feel really sorry for the person dealing with the rest.

This is also related to the general consensus that computers should magically do all the work. Making someone's job easier is no longer an option, it's all or nothing :(

3
0

had this one yesterday

Please make this website avalable to all users

whats the URL?

whats a URL?

The internet address

the what?

the www thing

I dont know

<bangs head on desk>

10
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: had this one yesterday

I did first line years ago. I once got a really shouty email from an (office-based) manager about some printer not working on an oil rig for over a fortnight and it being completely unacceptable in taking so much time etc.

Had it been previously reported? had it bollocks. Was he even at the site for me to help him? was he bollocks. Had it already been sorted by someone on the rig with capable of rubbing their braincells together? course it had.

2
0

Re: had this one yesterday

I occasionally get asked if I can install web apps on users computers...

No amount of explaining that they are web sites that live on the internet, and if they can't remember the web addresses (which is usually the name of the thing they want access to) then the shortcuts will be in their favourites (thanks to the magic of group policy*), will stop them coming back next time.

I envy those of you who have demarcation in your jobs (i.e. 1st line, 3rd line, architect etc). I am the sole in-house** IT guy for a medium sized enterprise and small business and I carry the can for all of it.

*I don't really mention group policy to users. That would be pointless.

**A rarity these days it would seem.

3
0
Angel

Re: had this one yesterday

The magic is in learning how to answer, not what the answer is. Users do not listen to explanations, because the computer is smart and should just know that they mean "go to www.google.com" when they randomly mash the keyboard with their fists.

In your case, the appropriate answer is that the application is already installed on all computers in the company, and the shortcut is under Favourites. If you wanted to get even more fancy about it, get something like WiX and create a little MSI that creates shortcuts to the web sites under Programs, and users won't even know the difference.

But the answer to "Please install web application X" for your users should always be "It's already installed", which solves the problem and makes you look like a genius for anticipating their problem.

0
0

Re: had this one yesterday

Demarcation isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Luckily I now work like you so I can follow a call from start to conclusion.

With demarcation you get the following problems.

User gets some crappy error in Excel when pressing a button. You investigate and discover the button runs some in house macro written by some long dead employee, you spend half an hour picking apart said macro and discover that it needs access to a file, which is on x server or y folder which further investigation reveals user hasn't got permission to access. At this point you have to pass the call on to either the server or security team to add the permission, and after ticking a box, they check with the user, they close the call and another stat is added to their monthly figures, Yay! Go Server Team!

or

After scrabbling around on the floor, amongst the cobwebs and toenail clippings, you discover that nothing is wrong with the user's PC, network cable or floorport, so you pass it to the Network team who pop the cable back into the switch where it had fallen out because the silly little clip on the plug had been broken. Call closed, Yay! Go Network Team.

Meanwhile you get a b0ll0cking for not closing any calls!

2
0

Installing web apps on users' computers

Not helped by the advent of the iPad, which requires you to do exactly that if you want it to work properly (ok, technically you install an app rather than a web site, but still).

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: had this one yesterday

If we're coming out with some classic Support stories how about this one...

Hi, I would like to know why the marketing emails we are sending out are getting caught up in spam filters. We could be missing out on business here!"

Let me see....why is his spam emails getting caught in spam filters....and why is it my fault....

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Thank you again, Alastair

I will now award you the highest honour I bestow on any journalist - I will set up an alarm for your posts.

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: Thank you again, Alastair

Trying to work out if this is flattery or an insult, or possibly some kind of reflexive irony.

1
0
Thumb Up

Got out of support a long time ago

So I do feel for tech support guys and, if I ever have a problem, I try to be nice to be nice.

I'm in design and development now but share an office with our IT manager (it's only a small company and so he's the one and only IT guy). However, because I use computers for more than just banging in numbers and printing stuff out, I'm also expected to answer IT problems whenever I pick up our IT guy's phone and know instantly what the problem is. As I'm not really qualified to answer IT-related support questions I generally just ask them to call back, and usually get a bit of attitude in response.

Best internal support call I got was "Is there a problem with the network? My keyboard has stopped working!" She had kicked it out the back of the PC. Yes flower, we plug all keyboards into the company server now...

3
0
Flame

helpdesk staff

I'm sure many 1st line staff are great, and do a wonderful job,

and i know this article is a bitch about users but check this out for an example of how incredibly little work my 1st line does before passing 99% of jobs on to us 2nd and up

Job comes in - "User x cant load a file"

no other details

me to helpdesk " Could you find out the name and location of the file?"

helpdesk " not my job "

WELL WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR JOB FOR CHRISTS SAKE???????

when a customer rings the RAC and the dispatcher informs the van man .... DOES HE HAVE TO GUESS WHERE THE FUCKING BREAKDOWN IS????

I could literally write a vb script that could do that guys job better than him.

10
0
Happy

Re: helpdesk staff

That is a specific 1st Line function, anyone not doing that should be marched, anyone who doesnt think to ask that should be sacked on the spot, ridiculed and subjected to a stoning in the office carpark.

Thing is its hardly surprising he has a cob on when you are stuck dealing with things such as this on a daily basis:

User: "My PC wont come back on when i wriggle the mouse"

IT "Is the Screen on?"

User: "Yes the light flashing"

IT "Ok is the PC on?"

User "Yes"

IT "Are you sure?"

User "Yes i never shut it down"

IT *through gritted teeth* "Ok well humour me and check"

Line goes dead...............

Fuckwits!

6
0

Re: helpdesk staff

Does your helpdesk do what ours does on a regular basis and get no contact details whatsoever for the person logging the call? That's always useful.

Mind you, I'd like to soundly thump whoever made the design decision to allow a call to be raised with no contact details in it in the first place...

2
0
Go

Re: helpdesk staff

See thats the other thing, our Helpdesk system is tied to AD so that when the user calls the Analyst takes their name and it auto populates; Email, Mobile, Desk Phone and PA if appropriate into the ticket along with all the asset numbers for equipment they have been issued. This should be basic stuff for a hell desk system yet no one seems to bother!

Having served time on helldesks and further up the chain the issue is generally the "gamification" (what a shit word) competing with an Us vs Them approach. No one whats to work as cohesive unit learning off the other etc.. Internal IT politics can be blamed for this but generally because the managers employed to run these teams couldnt know Command Prompt from Powershell! The reason the non techies are running a techie department? Generally the beancounters who dont want to pay for someone who knows what they are doing or other management types setting up job for their management type mates!

1
0
Silver badge

Re: helpdesk staff

@Mark 63:

I encountered a few of those over the years. By far the worst of that lot I described to my teamlead as "trying to use my brain to do her thinking", and mere hours after that she walked the plankwas walked out the door

0
0

Re: helpdesk staff

Our first line contractor changes so frequently that I find myself guiding them through our call-logging process.

"ok is that everything, is there anything else I can help you with?"

"hang on, we're not done yet. You might want to take a note of..."

0
0
Pint

Re: helpdesk staff

It might be worth you bouncing the ticket back with a request for details specifying what and where the issue is with screen shots where applicable. Rinse and repeat until they get the message or provide you with enough evidence to back you up when you point out to your head of department that they aren't pulling their weight and/or highlighting a training issue as it may be that they simply don't know what's required. The focus is generally put too much on customer service training rather than technical know how or analysis when they're hired (it certainly was where I work) and some people just seem to be incapable of learning that there's a bit more to diagnosing a fault than simply noting down what the user says (we've had two of those, got rid of both of them as they simply weren't suitable for the job). Fortunately this is not the case for most. Some may never progress beyond analyst but they can improve on that score (I thought I'd have to beat this into a colleague with a 14 lb sledge hammer at one point, they started learning before physical "encouragement" became necessary).

I was probably as bad when I first started out until people took the time to explain to me what they needed to know to stand a chance. I still receive the same sorts of calls from users as I did originally stating "x is broken" but know enough to go back and explain (using small, simple words) that without defining "broken" a touch more precisely citing specific examples and providing screen shots then the odds of it being resolved (or me actually giving a shit) are slender to non-existent.

If you help and teach the ones worth saving you'll be amazed at how much crap will get stopped without you even seeing it. It's also worth letting them know when you've got a drop everything priority ongoing as they'll field those calls for you rather than pass them down the line. A good 1st line team will back you up and help decrease your blood pressure rather than raising it, they'll get the "who, what, when, where?" so you can concentrate on the "how and why?", they may just need some pointers in the right direction.

Beer 'cos it sounds like you both need and deserve one!

0
0
Pint

Re: helpdesk staff

Working for a company with 150,000 employees, got a support ticket at my 3rd line job, "User has requested an application and it hasn't arrived." OK no user name, no machine ID, phone number, country, department, application name or whether it was a standard application, needs to be ordered, installed over the network or by actual visit, yet, it went through 1st and 2nd line without a neuron flickering somewhere along the line.

Having said that 1st line really do have to deal with some real muppets and 2nd line spend all their time deflecting the crud the article talks about and I salute most of them.

Beer cos it's driving me even more to drink.

0
0
Silver badge

Can we have another article...

...this time about the stupid fucking bullshit IT sometimes subjects their colleagues to?

4
8
Anonymous Coward

Re: Can we have another article...

Especially developer colleagues. You make me spend time getting round your silly policies. It's what we do.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Can we have another article...

Well, I write about precisely this every week already. I simply gave it a rest this week.

1
0
Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: Can we have another article...

In my support experience Developers are the worst.

2
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: Can we have another article...

"In my support experience Developers are the worst."

Yes. They know just enough to think they know something. My favorite recent interaction with a "senior developer" was explaining in excruciatingly basic detail how Unix filesystem permissions worked and why they were not the same as Windows file permissions. This, mind you, was after he explained that he was *more* familiar with Unix permissions!

0
1
Anonymous Coward

Thank goodness - some insight to our job and frustrations from the other side of the desk. And yes - I do NOT get paid to handle abuse, and shouldn't have to because the user is being a starfish.

I believe that a LOT of issues can be solved if we have a rotation of users to assist IT only ONE week - doing the BASIC stuff that I expect anybody should have to use their primary business tool - that computer thing on their desks. I will decide what I want them to help the other users with - things like unplugged cables etc - nothing technical, just the basic stuff that anybody with half a braincell will do for any other gadget they have at home. I won't leave anything TECHNICAL for them to do, just a few basics. And let them see how we get treated.

In the 21st Century, that computer is your Primary Business Tool. Learn to use it. I don't expect you to fix it, just know how to use it properly. Imagine a golfer that doesn't know how to use his putter. Or an accountant who cannot read a balance sheet. Or a truck driver who cannot drive his truck. Or a DJ not knowing how to use his mixing station. Or a surgeon that doesn't know how to use that set of scalpels. Etc, etc, etc. Why is there a DIFFERENT set of rules for your computer? If I take that away, you can't do your work. Learn to USE it and all the basics around it, like what a logon is, and how to save something, and how to NOW and then actually READ the messages that pop-up - don't blame ME for your computer restarting when YOU didn't read the box asking you if you were sure you wanted to do it, and lose all unsaved data.... Using computers is for everybody, FIXING it is for geeks. If you are still of the school who thinks to be able to use that wizard box properly is a geeks job, go back to your cave.

I can carry on for a week about this. I am also not a basic 1st line techie. I am an IT Consultant with more than 20 yrs experience. And IT personnel in general do NOT get paid what they are worth to the company, nevermind having to take the abuse...

8
0

It doesn't matter how easy you try and make things for them either...

About 18 months the support team I work for ran a massive user consultation process involving HR-mandated surveys, an IT skills test and a load of workshops based around the idea of how we could make things easier for the users, both in terms of improved training & awareness (basic stuff like 'If your keyboard doesn't work, here's how to look behind your PC and see if it's still plugged in') as well as accessing the servcedesk itself.

The main thing that came out was users were unsure where to go to get their queries answered by the most appropriate servicedesk staff. To this end we changed the telemessages & call options to three main issues - 'windows login error, hardware such as your PC or printer' and 'software, such as excel or clinical software', with sub-choices within those (e.g. select '3 for software, then 1 for Excel, Word and 2 for Emis Web, RiO or other clinical software'.

So this went in, was approved by the usergroup steering committee, and now we get complaints that 'it's too complex, I don't know what piece of software I'm having a problem with.' or 'I don't know which login I've got the problem with.'

We don't, however, tend to get unplugged keyboard calls anymore, so at least that bit worked.

2
0
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: It doesn't matter how easy you try and make things for them either...

"The main thing that came out was users were unsure where to go to get their queries answered by the most appropriate servicedesk staff. To this end we changed the telemessages & call options to three main issues - 'windows login error, hardware such as your PC or printer' and 'software, such as excel or clinical software', with sub-choices within those (e.g. select '3 for software, then 1 for Excel, Word and 2 for Emis Web, RiO or other clinical software'."

This was an obvious fail.

Have you never been in a situation yourself where you just don't know what is wrong with something, all you know is "the stupid thing is playing silly buggers"? Or you know what the problem is but there is nothing in the menu system to deal with it? Good customer support deals with these eventualities in a sensible manner. I'm afraid you were subjecting a large number of people in your organisation to a shitty multi-tiered menu system that caused frustration and wasted time.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

In my humble experience...

...1st line are a lot of the problem. I've worked in 2nd and 1st line (neither anymore) and I was humble and conscientious as a 1st line guy. I was in the minority. In 2nd level I can't count the number of times users would aquire my name and direct number / email address / physical location and bitch at me about 1st line. Irony is they were probably crap because they were bitter about being stuck in 1st line.

Single point of contact? Ownership? More like single point of faliure. Anyway, that's my experience. Am I alone? Unlikely.

Anything positive to say, hm? I came across some really good 2nd line people.

2
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.