A fifth cause of burnout

I was reminded today of a fifth reason people get burned out doing tech support. Unrealistic expectations. For example, when your users have a problem with technology that isn’t something you support, but which they still expect you to take care of for them. In some cases that can be personal tech like an iPod or some other gadget that isn’t part of their work, but which they still expect you to support, or in my favorite example people who call you from outside the office because they can’t get an Internet connection to work. There’s nothing like someone calling you from Starbucks 1000 miles away because their work-issued laptop didn’t connect to the wireless network. Or calling you from a hotel asking which wireless network they should connect to. I’ve even had people call me from their own house when they have trouble connecting to the Internet.

The worst part is that these same people can grasp that when they have a client in our office who needs help connecting to our “guest” network, that we are the ones who can help them do that, but apparently there’s a disconnect that occurs when they are at a remote location connecting to a remote network that causes them to assume we are the ones to do that as well.

Anyway, my ranting aside, I do believe that having a well-defined limit to what you’ll provide support for helps your support folks not burn out quickly.

Tags: helpdesk, burnout

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  1. In some ways, this type of behavior is actually an outgrowth of the fact that you do your work so well.

    These folks have come to depend on you, and will continue to call, because you solve their problems. Calling T-Mobile support when they can’t connect at their local Starbucks is scary for them. They don’t know who they might get on the phone.

    That said, they are also using you for a crutch when your time could be better spent elsewhere. Now, I must hedge my bets a bit and say that, if they are trying to connect at a Starbucks in order to do company business, than I would probably consider that part of my role as a help desk employee. Also, if the time went beyond 10 minutes or so, I would probably tell them to call the access point vendor. Heck, maybe there is an outage in their area.

    As for personal calls from home. My standard response was always, “My rate is $XXX. Would you like to set up an evening appointment?” (SMILE)


  2. Douglas,

    Actually, in my ranting I may not have been that clear. I don’t mind helping them get connected to a certain point. For example, I’ll gladly help you get the list of available wireless networks and show you how to connect, but I can also hear the frustration they have with me when I don’t know what the network name or WEP key might be.

    The other thing is, with attorneys, they work all the time, at odd hours, from everywhere. The line between work and personal use of technology has been blurred beyond recognition in that regard, and then when you throw in that firm has dozens of partners, who are the owners of the business and can define/redefine on a whim what the IS team supports, well there’s really no line at all. 🙂

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