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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Two words.

Today's rant involves the two most dreaded words I hear at work (CAUTION: have smelling salts handy):


(Alternately: "not working," "stopped working," "won't work," and the occasional "don't work" (although this is an institute of higher education, we are still in Indiana.))

Now, I have no problem with "doesn't work" when it's in some sort of context. Example:

"My computer doesn't work. There is gray smoke pouring out of the side and sparks are shooting out of the floppy drive. Please advise."

All too often, I hear this:

"My computer doesn't work. When can you fix it?"

As anyone who has ever had computer problems (meaning, anyone who has ever used a computer) can tell you, there's a whole world of problems that could be wrong. It could be anything from there's no icon on the desktop for a program to you melted the motherboard by aiming your space heater at the computer*. "Doesn't work" appears to be the trash bag into which the entire gamut of computer issues is stuffed.

Now, I fully understand that I'm here because I know more about computers than most people. That's what I'm paid for. I don't expect users to be able to diagnose problems themselves. If they could, I'd be out of a job.

However, well over half of the problems people report can easily and quickly be solved with just a little more information from the user. If I get email saying "my computer isn't working," the user is going to have to wait around until I get done with the dozen other people in line first before I can take care of them. But, if, for instance, I get an email saying "I can't open .jpg files," I can return an email with an instant solution to the problem and it makes everyone's life that much better.

So, while I don't expect our users to know what's wrong with their machines, a little more information as to the nature of the problem makes things a lot smoother for the tech support people and may get a solution to the problem much quicker than just saying "it's broken."

And that's one to grow on.

* both of these are actual issues I've dealt with.

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