June 21, 2022•559 words
In my previous two essays I shared what I've learned about who the clients are whom we serve in technology support and the numerous ways the client is unique and cannot be given standardized support. There is one more very important aspect to understand about our clients, but it's not a popular one.
The client doesn't want to fix their problem by following a multi-step procedure on an outdated online reference document
Most upper management have a checklist for their IT department to provide outstanding customer support in the workplace. This checklist is revisited during every annual retreat. It might also be included in the department's mission statement. The one item that I find a flaw with in this customer support checklist?
The IT department shall create an online knowledge base of all the possible issues a customer may encounter with the software the workplace provides...and the steps needed to resolve it.
Some upper management are unable or unwilling to consider the need for hiring additional tech support employees, so the only path forward is to "work smarter" and "train our users to use their technology better so they can fix their own problems." Upper management believe that their tech support employees should, "empower our users and provide them training so they can learn the skills to solve computer problems themselves." Teach them how to fish, if you will. It's a noble directive, especially when faced with an obscenely-skewed customer-to-tech ratio in the workplace. So the directive is made to develop an intra-network wiki chock full of issues and answers.
Side note: One day, when I take over the world, I am going to outlaw the practice of calling a customer or client a user.
The definition of oxymoron is, "a combination of contradictory or incongruous words." Some examples of oxymorons are crash landing, even odds, found missing, jumbo shrimp, original copy, and for this essay's purpose.... easy-to-search online repository. Any wiki or knowledge base is never easy for a client to search for, let alone discover, the results they are looking up. This glaring difficulty should be the primary reason upper management should avoid dedicating employee time to write down a technical issue and its steps to resolution for others to solve. Sadly, it is not.
Not only is the customer's experience in finding the reference article ignored, there is little or no oversight as to how the reference content is composed. Online reference content is not created by a full-time staffperson with an expertise in technical writing. It is created by tech support professionals who have not received training in technical writing and rely on Microsoft Word's spellcheck as the only resource for editing their documents.
In addition, the online knowledge repository is not regularly updated for accuracy and relevancy when software applications are updated. Once the information is uploaded, weblinks to the information is sent in an email to the client for them to figure out...year after year. the software changes, but the steps to issue resolution are not.
I'm also wagering most upper management, faced with a technology issue, expect one of their employees to fix their computer for them. They rarely dogfood their online repositories. If they did, they would realize what their clients have to contend with, and then would be forced to rethink their tech support paradigm.
We can do better.