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Tips from an IT Guy: 4 Ways to Get Quicker Support

Dear users: The helpdesk cares. We really do. Like everyone, though, we have certain rules and procedures we need to follow and we request you follow them, as well. It’s not that we’re trying to blow you off, we just really need you to open a ticket. Please don’t catch us in the hallway or break room or bathroom. You can help us help you by opening a ticket, but not just any ticket, the perfect ticket.

Here’s what you need to know, and thank you for contacting the helpdesk.

The First Rule

You’ve heard us say plenty of times. “Please open a ticket.”

Caught us in the hall and asked about a crashing app? “Please open a ticket.”

Emailed or called one of us directly about a printer on the fritz? “Please open a ticket.”

Stopped by our desks for help setting up email on your phone? “Please open a ticket.”

Why don’t we just help you on the spot? Every company runs their helpdesk differently, but there are universal reasons why we depend on our ticketing systems. Namely, we must bring order to the chaos. If an engineer is on their way to help someone in one department (who opened a ticket and has been waiting in queue), they can’t stop to help you without making the first person wait.

Consider our Task Switching Costs

Task switching is changing gears from one task to another and having to quickly adapt to different situations. We’ve talked about task switching before, mostly referring to training tips. Good study tips can also translate to good everyday work practices. Unfortunately, helpdesk techs don’t always have the luxury to work on one thing at a time, and it is proven to be mentally draining the more often it occurs.

Interruptions caused by phone calls or other distractions amplify these effects, everyone has experienced being interrupted and struggling to get refocused on what you were originally working on. Being able to work through a list of tickets one at a time with minimal interruption helps us manage our days and gets everyone’s problems taken care of.

So, whenever we ask you to open a ticket we’re not being antisocial or difficult to work with, we’re simply trying to manage our workloads and fairly address and prioritize everyone’s issues.

Make Sure it’s an IT Issue

Are the lights in your office are burnt out? Does the microwave clock need resetting? Are you locked out of the conference room? These are important, in some cases immediate, issues. But, they are not our issues.

Before clicking submit on that ticket, stop and think, “Is this really something IT is responsible for fixing?” Maybe ask facilities, the office manager, or a gardener.

Make Sure Your Ticket is Detailed

This our bane, our nemesis, our greatest frustration and barrier to helping you quickly: Tickets without enough details.

Example 1: The stubborn printer

Incorrect: “I can’t print.” To which printer? From what program? Is there an error?

Correct: I’m receiving an error message while printing from Office to the upstairs printer.

Example 2: The elusive server outage

Incorrect: “The server is down.” Which server? I’m well-trained on Server, but not on mind reading. Which applications are affected? Maybe describe the symptoms.

Correct: Maybe instead try “Microsoft Outlook says that it can’t connect to the mail server, my officemate says his Outlook is Okay.” One gives no information, one is specific and helps immediately narrow down the problem.

Example 3: The dreaded, slow computer

Incorrect: “My computer is slow.” This one drives us nuts. Slow to do what? When?

Correct: “My computer always takes a really long time to open Microsoft Excel files off of the file server.”

So much better.

Example 4: What exactly is the problem?

Simply incorrect: “HELP!! PLEASE CALL ME!!” No, just please no. Put details in the ticket, it’s not a pager.

Please don’t make us have to work to extract information out of you. Vague tickets are frustrating and we can’t do anything except ask you to elaborate. Also, it pushes you down the queue while we start another ticket waiting on you to reply with more info.

Along with detailed tickets, sending screenshots helps us immensely. Instead of just saying, “The CRM looks weird today,” take a screenshot and send it along so that we can see the weirdness you speak of.

Not sure how to take screenshots? Here are instructions for Mac and Windows.

Want to Know a Secret?

There are many acceptable forms of showing appreciation to your hardworking IT team. Baked goods are typically welcome. There’s no secret there. After all, everyone loves knowing they’re appreciated.

Here’s the secret: Maybe, just maybe, opening a ticket isn’t required. Just this once. We’re not saying we will work on all your tickets faster, but we’re not saying they won’t either. Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone.

Hopefully, we’ve helped shed some light on how the IT helpdesk thinks and operates. We want to help, we just need a little understanding and support when it comes to our procedures and workflow. Thanks for listening and thanks in advance for those perfectly-written tickets to come!

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