Sunday, May 12, 2013

Auto Mechanics Syndrome

Having been in the technology game for many years, I must have heard people ask why can't you just fix it more than a million times.   It was working fine, they will say, and then it just didn't work any more. They want you to tell them why this happened, how they can fix it or how long it will take for you to fix it.

Seems like these things go one of two ways.

Often you get the call or the message and when you go to investigate the trouble report you simply can't make the problem happen. The screen was blank a minute ago. Not sure what you did but it seems to be okay now, the customer will say.  There was some kind of message but I am not sure what it said and I cleared it.  Can you tell me what you were doing, you ask, but they can't recall exactly. We often ask what changed only to get the standard "nothing" reply.

I once worked with a young woman who was convinced that the computes only worked when I was within 10 feet of them.  She always had problems and yet the minute I came near her desk her problems would miraculously vanish. It was as if I had some mystical aura or perhaps I was a biological key fob that unlocked them.

While that was annoying, far worse is the trouble ticket which tells little to nothing about the problem you are supposed to solve. My computer stopped working could really mean anything from a complete hard drive failure and inability to boot, to an error due to a bad formula in a spreadsheet cell. Its like the poor mechanic who draws the short straw, getting the customer who only says there is a funny noise and the engine wouldn't start the other morning. Can you fix it, please, and can I have the car back by lunch? The car starts every time and you don't hear any noise.

Technology has become incredibly complex. Moreover, much of the technology use is remote. Expecting any technician to simply know what is wrong and talk you through fixing it would be similar to expecting an auto mechanic to talk you through repairing your car, or your doctor talking you through surgery over the phone.

So when you report a problem, please try to include as much detailed information as possible. Computer repair 101 suggests the first step is always to reboot the machine and see if the problem goes away. This holds for mobile devices as well. Turn them off and back on again. Check wires and make sure all the devices, particularly the ones with apparent problems, are plugged in and turned on. Is the little green LED on your monitor lit, and is the network cable plugged in all the way?  

If none of that helps and you have reproduced the problem, make some notes about the messages, the conditions and the activities that seem to lead up to the problem.  If you know how to take a screen shot and send it that can be very helpful. Of course if the system is truly "dead" you won't be able to do any of this, but then your technician may not be able to help either.

Remember, the person at the other end of the phone call can't see what's in front of you. Be patient and assist in the resolution by providing information instead of just demanding a quick fix.  Follow instructions, repeating them and indicating the results as best you can. Don't get ahead of the technician.

Cooperation will get you back on the road again a lot sooner.

Captain Joe

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