See what I did there? Bad joke, I apologize. But that’s the truth, and it’s the thing I hear more often than anything else. “We can’t ____ and it’s a major problem, can you help?”. Well, yes. I can. Having a hard time printing? Is your Internet always going down? Computer running slow? Can’t get something to run on your computer? Whatever it is, anything that can go wrong will ultimately sooner or later go wrong, and it will most certainly go wrong when you’re in the middle of a project, or there’s a deadline to meet. Like, in an hour. So who do you call? Well, you could call your computer vendor, or Windows tech support, or whatever software vendor you’re working on, but are you ready to be frustrated and wait on hold? I’m here, and I can likely get things done quicker, and provide you some real answers on how to prevent what just happened from happening again – all in the time you’d be waiting on hold elsewhere.
Every get the feeling that when you call tech support it’s like they’re just finding new ways to tell you to solve the problem yourself, or “we’ll escalate your ticket to our senior engineers”? We’ve all heard it before. From your Internet provider, to your web host, to whatever crappy consumer electronics company and beyond, they all more or less suck with few exceptions. The answer why is fairly simple. Why should they care? These are typically multi-billion dollar companies and you’re just some person costing them money every time you call them. You see, support costs people money to provide. When you call the support desk for a product or service you’ve already purchased, they typically don’t make any money on that call, so there’s no incentive to provide you a great experience. You’ll get what you get. Turnover is high in these departments, employees under-trained (if at all), and you’re likely talking to someone in a country where it’s totally legal to pay people $1 / hour. Sure, customers are going to complain, but you’ve already made the sale and you don’t care. It’ll cost them 10x more to hire a competent helpdesk than the amount of business they’ll retain.
Simply put I’ve been working in helpdesk style roles for the past 20 years figuring out the solutions to IT related problems and I’m pretty damn good at it. But there’s a reason why, and that’s the method. Many customers have a hard time telling you exactly what is wrong, instead they tell you the symptoms of the problem. It’s up to me to figure out what’s causing what’s reported (which, in and of itself may be wrong, too!). First, I listen to what’s going wrong in your own words. From this, I can begin to assess what your needs are. Sometimes this is a super obvious answer, but it can also become complex quickly. Qualifying questions help weed out quick fixes, and steer us in the right direction. This is when we can begin to focus on the more intricate parts of the problem and what got us there. The root cause of the problem usually begins to show itself and we take steps to remedy the matter. What’s important is explaining to the client how we got there. What caused their issue, and how can we prevent it in the future. A lot of people miss that step.
You know, sometimes these things are easy – other times they are near impossible to flesh out. When I can help a client quickly, I never like to charge. Knowledge transfer is a powerful thing and I believe that we should all be learning as much as we can. When I can, I’ll always educate my clients so they may not need to call me next time, but I see it more as building better relationships. Maybe I won’t make a quick buck tomorrow, but in the end they’ll know they can trust me, and I’d rather have a lifelong client that can count on me, than hundreds that barely know my name. Quick fixes on the go are just one of those things you chalk up as part of providing good service. But, I still need to keep the lights on and put food in my belly. The knowledge I come armed with towards your problems came from decades of experience working with digital systems. Quotes and evaluations are always free. When I see an opportunity to keep someone happy, I will. Typically for first time clients I’ll charge a minimum of 1/2 hour of professional services, however I also happily combine multiple service calls over time into a single hour. My motto has always remained the same “it’ll all work out in the end”. I’m pretty flexible like that.