Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Technology Idle

The Frustrations of Supporting Users In Remote Offices 129

Posted by samzenpus
from the is-it-on? dept.
Esther Schindler writes "You're not alone in your struggle against people who think a shell is something you hold to your ear," writes Carol Pinchefsky. "Other techies are out there supporting users in remote offices, fighting the good fight against computer- and user-related mishaps – or at least tolerating user frustration with a modicum of grace." One example she gives is a tech support person whose systems in Brazil went down — during Carnival: "...We had to wait more than a week for the locals to sober up enough to reconnect the line. In the end, I had to walk a tech (who did not know the system) through the process step by step via an interpreter. Of course, the interpreter was not technical. So it was kind of like explaining to your mom to tell your grandfather (who is hard of hearing) how to do something while she is on the phone and he is across the room from her."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Frustrations of Supporting Users In Remote Offices

Comments Filter:
  • by ShaunC (203807) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @08:11PM (#47821891)

    Users in remote offices are the best users! They can email, they can call, and they all get a ticket opened for their issue. But they can't come make a scene in your department (or worse, at your own desk) because "the data pull I asked for last week is clearly out of date, my customer from yesterday isn't listed" etc. I would much rather support users via email, via ticketing, and via phone if necessary, than support them in person.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @08:37PM (#47821981)

    IT needs to let go of PEBKAC and ID-10-T errors. Your users have difficult jobs and they probably don't want to deal with you any more than you want to deal with them. They probably aren't "bothering" you for fun. If they are, you're doing your job well.

    Yes, they can be dense. But guess what -- they are human and so are you! They make mistakes. So do you!
    I enjoy The IT Crowd and BOFH, but those are fantasies and should remain such.

    There are many reasons to show appreciation for the work your coworkers do. The most important is that without them, you may be lucky enough to find yourself in their shoes.

  • Au contraire! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nuckfuts (690967) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @08:40PM (#47822005)
    What a useless and whinging article! You find remote support frustrating? Some of us recall the days before remote support was an option, having to hop in a car and drive somewhere every time a problem occurred. Remote support is a f*cking godsend. Don't work in support if you can't handle a bit of frustration.
  • by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @08:41PM (#47822007) Journal

    For me it's important to keep in mind, I get paid the same regardless, so it's not worth getting twisted up about it. Communicate slowly and clearly, use simple instructions, ask politely for feedback (what do you see on your screen now?) and you'll eventually get there. Unless your remote user is trying to defuse a bomb, how long this takes probably doesn't matter much in the long run. So relax.

    Once, at 3AM or so, modem out of commission, no way to log in, I talked an operator through editing a backup script that another admin had broken. (Made a change, didn't test it.) It took a long time, but we got it done and I didn't have to drive in. In his favor, the operator was excellent at following instructions and telling me what exactly he was seeing on the screen.

  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @08:55PM (#47822081)

    What a useless and whinging article! You find remote support frustrating?

    It's more than that. these "support" people find their "users" objectionable - the people for whom they serve and the reason they have a job.

    Many if not most people use computers for a varying scale of applications. Most of these people are not "computer professionals". If you are in "support", your job is to "support" these people. If you can't handle that, it's time for a new job.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @09:22PM (#47822181) Homepage

    If you are big enough to have a branch office in Timbuktu then you should be big enough for there to be someone in the home office that speaks whatever they speak there.

    Of course this runs counter to the current corporate culture fad of cost cutting and defining success based on quarterly profits and stock results.

  • by ldobehardcore (1738858) <steven,dubois&gmail,com> on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:01PM (#47822325)

    the operator was excellent at following instructions and telling me what exactly he was seeing on the screen.

    As someone fairly green on the helpdesk (just hit the 1 year mark), I must say that I appreciate ten times more a user who follows instructions and describes what's on their screen, than users who claim to be tech savvy, broke what they were working on, and can't seem to fix it themselves.

    What I really hate are those users who never learned how to use their computer. They know how to operate one or two programs on the computer, but they always say "I'm not a computer person", and use that as an excuse for never learning the difference between the mouse, the monitor and the tower. The kinds of users who can't take instructions because they're unwilling to focus their eyes in unfamiliar territory on the the screen.

    I'm fine with ignorance, ignorance can be fixed, and ignorance is honest. What I can't stand is when people call in asking for help, but refusing to say what they need help with, then when you pry it out of them, they refuse to follow the instructions you give them. Those are the worst users.

    So yeah. Compassion is great. I do my level best every day to put myself in the users shoes, because I understand how stressful it is when your tools fail you. But there is certainly a point where the patience runs out, because someone who is asking for help (often demanding help) is not willing to be helped once they have my attention.

  • what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @11:05PM (#47822621)

    One example she gives is a tech support person whose systems in Brazil went down — during Carnival: "...We had to wait more than a week for the locals to sober up enough to reconnect the line. In the end, I had to walk a tech (who did not know the system) through the process step by step via an interpreter. Of course, the interpreter was not technical. So it was kind of like explaining to your mom to tell your grandfather (who is hard of hearing) how to do something while she is on the phone and he is across the room from her."

    Ok, that's just... I don't even know what it is... ethnocentric? It's stupid... not everyone in Brazil gets wasted during carnival. Businesses still run, things still work. If you had a line go down for a week without repair, that wasn't your remote users fault. That was your businesses fault for having a shit contract. Where we work we have tens of thousands of data and voice connections in every remote area you can imagine and there's no way something could go out for a week without a very good excuse like the building burnt down, or there was a flood. Even then we'd find a way around the problem temporarily. It's been more than one time I've kept a company in business with Cat5 strung through some trees.

    And the language thing? Give me an Fing break. I had to support a doctor in India that did not speak english, so I made a wild guess, hit the directory of the hospital and looked for an American sounding name. Sure enough it was an American and he was nice, helped translate. I sent him detailed instructions and he helped walk the other doctor through it. That's our Job If I'm a window washer, I'm not going to complain when I come across a dirty one.

  • /. is dead (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vbraga (228124) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @11:18PM (#47822675) Journal

    Is this stuff that matters?!

    filling filling for the filter filling filling
    Cat got your tongue? (something important seems to be missing from your comment ... like the body or the subject!)
    Cat got your tongue? (something important seems to be missing from your comment ... like the body or the subject!)

  • by spire3661 (1038968) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @11:37PM (#47822727) Journal
    Stop. Users are often absolutely unreasonable. I understand what you are saying but it swings both ways. You ever have a high school drop-out salesman flat out tell you that they dont know why we have I.T. at all? Users often ARE idiots. You know what office workers in the past did? THEY TOOK CLASSES IN OFFICE AUTOMATION so that they understood the tools they work with every day.
  • by David_Hart (1184661) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @12:02AM (#47822799)

    For me it's important to keep in mind, I get paid the same regardless, so it's not worth getting twisted up about it. Communicate slowly and clearly, use simple instructions, ask politely for feedback (what do you see on your screen now?) and you'll eventually get there. Unless your remote user is trying to defuse a bomb, how long this takes probably doesn't matter much in the long run. So relax.

    Once, at 3AM or so, modem out of commission, no way to log in, I talked an operator through editing a backup script that another admin had broken. (Made a change, didn't test it.) It took a long time, but we got it done and I didn't have to drive in. In his favor, the operator was excellent at following instructions and telling me what exactly he was seeing on the screen.

    In some ways I got lucky. One of my first jobs was supporting point-of-sale systems and pump controllers at 100 gas stations, about 30% were 24-hour. There is nothing like walking a minimum wage cashier through resetting a pump controller and being woken up at 3:00am in the morning as trucks are lining up and they can't pump gas... If you have the patience to do that, you can support just about anything...

    It taught me how to be patient, professional, to ask all kinds of questions, and to pay attention to any and all details that are provided. It also taught me how to put myself in the place of the person on the other end of the phone and how to calm them down.

  • by Torp (199297) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @02:09AM (#47823187)

    ... for not having contacted a local tech contractor with some english speaking skills that could help. Someone that comes in a couple hours now and then to solve any issues.
    Remote tech support is all fine and dandy, but sometimes you do need (technically literate) hands and eyes on the ground. I've taken care of servers on a different continent - 99% of the time I just ssh-ed in. The 1% I've had someone local - and technical! - drive in with a laptop and help.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @02:11AM (#47823193)

    Sorry, but no. Simple as that. No. The problem is that people are to use a tool and cannot be assed to learn how to use it. And don't turn around and blame corporate by "but they make me". Then learn to do your goddamn job or GTFO of it, you're wasting valuable oxygen someone else could use productively.

    I've spent a good deal of my youth in support jobs. They work well as part time during your university years, and that you're treated like garbage by the cheese-for-brains idiots doesn't really help to endear them to you either. I've seen them all. From the lady who flat out refuses to remember passwords and needs a reset twice a day (one in the morning, one when she returns from lunch) to the gentleman who calls every other day to be walked step by step through the same problem who yells obscenities at you to compensate for his own idiocy that apparently keeps him from writing down those steps.

    No. Sorry. My patience with users has expired long, long ago. Learn to use your tools or vacate the position for someone willing and able to do so.

  • by Max_W (812974) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @06:26AM (#47823701)
    She works with a whole system in Brazil via an non technical interpreter? Did it ever occur to her to learn Portuguese language?

The only thing cheaper than hardware is talk.

Working...