Monday, March 11, 2013

Help the Help Desk Help You

As anyone who is computer savvy enough to read this post knows, there is always someone savvier than we are. Unfortunately, some of these technical genius people can (and do) use their super powers for evil instead of good.

I choose to believe that the Geek Squad at Best Buy and the Genius Bar at the Apple Store use their powers for good… as do our Information Systems (IS) department at Hope. The library is very needy technically and IS is very accommodating. Sometimes they astound us with their abilities, responsiveness, and patience. Even now, when their team is missing a few key players, they still provide ultimate customer service with humility and grace.

So I am always in favor of making their lives easier.

Recently I attended an Infopeople webinar entitled, “What Your Tech Wants You to Know” presented by Laura Solomon. She refers to herself as “Mean Laura” because she tells it like it is. My main takeaway from that session was that Communication is key.

Report your problem. They cannot respond to a problem they don’t know about. In the library we have fifteen student workers that staff the Information Commons (IC). If one of them becomes aware that something doesn’t work we ask that they report it to their supervisor immediately who will investigate and report it to IS if necessary. If instead they just tell the next student on duty, the problem doesn’t get fixed. The next employee might assume that IS is just being slow about responding. The problem is perpetuated. IS gets a bad rep, our staff have to deal with unnecessary work-arounds and our IC users are not well served.

Respect the channels of communication. When reporting a problem, send an email to the IS Help Desk ( rather than relying on catching one of the tech guys on the way to a meeting. Not only will an email help them remember, they can use the virtual paper trail to inform decisions that will benefit all of us in the long run. Also, not every IT guy does the same thing. Some are network gurus and some are computer hardware geeks. These are very different worlds. Don’t be surprised if the Director of IS doesn’t know why your Outlook Calendar doesn’t sync with your Android phone app. The Help Desk sorts and assigns “tickets” appropriately.

How to report a problem:

  1. Tell the truth. This may seem like a no-brainer at a Christian university but we are all tempted to leave out the embarrassing facts if they don’t seem necessary. If you did something that you think might help explain the situation, tell them. For example, saying, “the printer just stopped working” is not the same as, “I turned the printer over when trying to remove a paper clip that had fallen inside. Now it won’t work.”
  2. Is it reproducible? Take a minute to retrace your steps if you can. What happens if you try another computer or browser? Ask a co-worker to try to do the same thing you did and see if they get the same error. Tell IS what you already tried.
  3. Give the exact wording or provide a screenshot of any error messages you see. Take a second to write it down before clicking “okay” to dismiss. It may not mean much to you, but it could be a timesaving clue for them. A picture is worth 1000 words. If you can, send a screenshot of what is on your monitor. (Call IS to ask how to do this if you don’t know. You will love this!)
  4. Don’t just say it’s broken. Say how it’s broken. What if you don’t get an error message? Does it make a noise? Does the mouse and keyboard work? Is the monitor screen dark even though the light indicates it has power? Is the computer frozen or just one program? (Of course, in some cases you cannot send an email but will have to make a call.)
Pass it on. If you find out how something works, share it with your co-workers. They will appreciate it! The library staff tries to remember to cc each other on problems emailed to the IS Help Desk – and pass along the solutions.

One more thing…
Read their emails. They don’t waste time writing a lot of them so when they do it’s probably something important.

The Information Systems department did not put me up to this.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ Robin Hartman is Director of Library Services at Hope International University. She is curious about how the organization and communication of information shapes society and is committed to equipping students to impact the world for Christ.

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