The number one rule

Everyone knows what the number one rule of the helpdesk is.

Users lie.

We all accept that as truth, we all have plenty of stories about catching users in a lie, and I think even our users find it completely acceptable to lie to the helpdesk. But why? What’s the point? Seriously, if we all accept that the purpose of calling the helpdesk at your organization (we won’t even begin to talk about consumers calling a helpdesk, we’ll stick to internal helpdesks) is to solve a problem and get back to work as quickly as possible, how does lying help you reach that goal? If you’re working along and a process or program locks up, and we recommend rebooting in order to reset the memory and network connections, why tell us you’ve alreay done that if you haven’t? That slows down the process of getting you back to work. Do users not understand this? Do they think we won’t catch them?

Seriously, if you say that you’ve been having this problem all day and have rebooted a number of times the first thing I’m going to do is go to your event log and see if there are errors being recorded. If your event log shows that you haven’t rebooted in a week, I’m going to have to assume everything you have told me in that conversation is untrue. That’s not going to help you get problems solved and get back to work.

I’ve got some thoughts about why users lie, and why it’s socially acceptable to lie to your helpdesk staff, but I will save that for a later post. I want to see your comments on why you think users lie, and whether there is any other profession where it’s acceptable to lie and impede someone who’s job is to help you.

Tags: Helpdesk, UsersLie

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  1. maybe they are so used to calling dell and having to lie to get dell to actually send a replacement part or get to the point that they forget they are not talking to dell but instead talking to someone who has the ability to help. /bitter

    It does seem to be a frustrating experience and I think it maybe because the reboot is seen as the standard cureall by users and helpdesk staff alike so of course they’ve tried it. (remember the IT Crowd greeting?) On the other hand if everyone tried it before calling then it may actually reduce the number of calls on the helpdesk.

    Sometimes a reboot can also be seen as inconvenient (especially if its a server that needs to be rebooted and you are calling dell) so it is tempting to lie about it – but then a reboot WILL cure a lot of problems but doesn’t actually fix the problem as to WHY it happens.

  2. Andy,

    That was why I purposely left out calling places like Dell, where there are a whole batch of different issues and focued this on internal. In our case, I don’t think most of them have called dell or other tech companies, we do that for them!

    I do think you’re getting close to the truth at the end of your comment though. I think it has a lot to do with the expectations of how a computer should act, compared to how it really does. More in a later post…

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