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Stupid User Tricks: 8 Reasons You Gotta Love IT

  • Let's face it, when it comes to technology there are two types of people: those who get it, and those who don't. No one is more aware of this dichotomy than you, the IT professionals who deal with daily requests that, eight or nine times out of 10, can be solved with a pinch of common sense. (Cough, have you tried turning it off and on again?)

    In honor of Valentine's Day, we want to acknowledge the myriad ways IT staffers support their users' help desk requests. We asked our thwack community to share their best and funniest help desk stories. Their tales provide good reasons for us to love our IT professionals and be ever so grateful for all they do.

    And remember, to make your own help desk more productive:

    • Benchmark and provide feedback – Understanding your environment's key performance indicators is imperative, not only to provide insight into trends and issues, but to allow you to provide feedback to your staff.
    • Document every interaction – Keep historical records of incidents for cases, users and assets to spot trends and solve future problems.
    • Automate as much as you can – Working on and closing help desk tickets can be a repetitive process. To help, implement automation at every stage of ticket lifecycle -- from ticket creation and assignment to escalation and closure.
    • Clearly define and communicate your help desk process and SLAs – Have a clearly defined process that not only sets user expectations, but also gives your staff a clear framework that they can leverage.
    • Enable users to help themselves – Create an easily searchable knowledgebase that will allow users to find quick resolutions to the problems they frequently encounter. This strategy will help to reduce the number of help desk tickets that come in and will allow you to focus on more challenging problems.
    • Check your pulse – Survey your users for overall satisfaction after their help desk interactions to see what you are doing right and what can be improved.
    • Transparency is key – Give users access to their ticket status and openly communicate what the next steps are and when they will be happening. This prevents unnecessary frustrations and contact.

    (Image: youngID/iStockphoto)

  • Stick to the basics

    The president of the company called the help desk complaining that his wireless mouse and keyboard weren't working with his laptop. So, we sent over one of our newbies to solve this basic issue. It turned into an hour-long troubleshooting session consisting of undocking the laptop, replacing drivers, etc. The admin eventually came back complaining that he couldn't figure it out, so we would need to re-image the laptop. I asked him the most basic troubleshooting question: "Did you replace the batteries?" Silence...

    (Image: Creative-idea/iStockphoto)

  • Let me upgrade ya!

    A woman was complaining about her slow "Wi-Five" connection in the new office. We simply "upgraded" her to "Wi-Six," and she never complained again.

    (Image: ankomondo/iStockphoto)

  • IT initiation

    We sent one of our rookie techs out to find the flux capacitor on a switch. Unfortunately for him, he was born AFTER the "Back to the Future" movies. He was looking for a long, long time.

    (Image: roberthyrons/iStockphoto)

  • Left in the dark

    Caller: My Internet isn't working!

    IT Pro: Okay, what happens when you open your browser?

    Caller: Nothing!

    IT Pro: Does the browser open?

    Caller: No, it doesn't open. There's nothing on my screen!

    IT Pro: OK, I understand…is the monitor powered on?

    Caller: No, there's nothing on the screen. I can't even see the power button!

    IT Pro: It should be located on the bottom right side of the monitor.

    Caller: I know what it looks like, but it's dark in here!

    IT Pro: Dark, sir?

    Caller: Yes -- all of the lights are off!

    IT Pro: Uh, is there currently power at XYZ site?

    Caller: No, the power is out!

    IT Pro: [Pauses] I think that may be the problem, sir.

  • Access denied!

    One day, a user asked for admin access to a server. When we asked him why he needed access, he said, "I need to do an IIS reset on the server." He paused and continued, "Not that I know what an IIS reset is or how to do one, but my vendor said that's what I need to do." Access denied!

    (Image: id-work/iStockphoto)

  • Stretching the limits

    A user wanted to move his computer to the other side of the room, but complained that the Ethernet cable was too short. I replied that I would be down shortly to help, but joked that I had to get the "cable stretchers" in order to proceed. Instead, of course, I went to my desk and got a longer cable. Once everything was moved and the new cable in place, the user -- in all seriousness -- expressed their amazement that I had such cool tools to accomplish the job!

    (Image: AnatolyM/iStockphoto)

  • I've got your number

    A user rang our afterhours support number and I was very confused with his request -- he was looking to make an appointment with an orthotics company. A bit of troubleshooting later, I found that he input the wrong phone number by one digit. I gave him the right number and he was thrilled.

    (Image: ojogabonitoo/iStockphoto)

  • Don't make me come over there!

    The best part of my job is when I go to someone's desk and ask them to repeat the exact steps they were taking in order to recreate a problem. When the supposed problem mysteriously fails to recur, I explain that my mere presence frightens the system into behaving. I've "fixed" more problems just by showing up than by any other means!

    (Image: Shendart/iStockphoto)