Why we don’t call the help desk


Thanks to the IT crowd, the phrase “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” has become (in)famous.  From one perspective it is a very good piece of advice.  Seriously the amount of problems this, combined with “Are you sure you have plugged your computer in” and “try unpluging and plugging it in again” can solve is amazing.  It’s no wonder they form IT support’s trinity of quick troubleshooting methods.  Unfortunately though the way IT professionals go about taking these basic steps with people is fundamentally flawed.

There is often an arrogance associated with the way support desks deals with these calls.  It will often assumes people are idiots and takes no regard for the fundamentally different life experiences of individuals.  It ignores that the person in question may be anywhere from a digital novice through to a season pro.

More importantly however it also ignores the emotional headspace that people are in by the time they bite the bullet and call IT support.   Often people are upset, or in the very least frustrated.

But why do people take so long to call support?

I think it maybe because we are conditioned to dislike calling IT Help Desks through past negative experiences.  Examples of some of the negative experiences you may have on an IT call include:

  • the time you have to spend on hold
  • the attitude of the help desk staff
  • the inadequate description of the cause of the problem and its solution
  • the feeling of lost control when you let the IT person control your screen and access everything on your compute
  • the general loss of time while you wait for IT to fix your computer
  • feeling like an idiot
  • not getting your problem solved

These factors and many more have led to the learnt behaviour of avoiding calling IT unless you really have to – by which time the problem is usually urgent, and may have gotten a lot worse.

When was the last time you called IT support?  What was your interaction like?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *