Uno, First ,Primo, Alpha

, posted: 11-Jan-2011 15:49

Hi, I'm Richard

I sell phones for a living and am in general a bit of a geek.

One issue I run into over and over again is that i assume too much.
when explain some piece of technology i assume that the person im talking to will know certain things such as how to navigate left and right around a screen or what a phone number is.

as a point in case, I recently dealt with a fellow who couldnt send a txt, I spent 15 minutes trying to work out why it would work when i sent a message to my own phone as a test but would fail when he sent to his friend.. turns out there was no number being typed in just his friends name

he had no contacts on his phone, no phone numbers loaded.. just names

i made the assumption and it cost me time.. where should i start from when making an inquiry. how do you ask the basic question without being patronising

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Comment by pctek, on 12-Jan-2011 09:19

Simple. Ask them to show you what it is they are doing/trying to do.

Comment by clicknz, on 12-Jan-2011 12:05

Hah - yep, an interesting point in this day and age. I'll be running an evening class on Apple's iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch & iPad) - for people to hopefully get more out of their devides - and will no doubt be running into this situation rather a lot. Have just had a good trial session with my mother who got an iPad for Christmas... definitely a situation where empathy for the student is required.

Comment by mattRSK, on 12-Jan-2011 22:41

"Tell me what you know. Show me what you do." from there you can observe what level of understanding the person has.

Comment by nzsouthernman, on 13-Jan-2011 11:34

I find it easiest to take the user back to the basics. In this case talk them through sending a text from start to finish - when you get to the 'select a contact from the address book' or 'type in the person's phone number' bit the person at the other end of the phone will suddenly realise where they'd been going wrong. Pedantically going through the motions will usually highlight where a breakdown in communication or lack of understanding is in my experience. :)

Comment by AndrewMac, on 15-Jan-2011 10:06

I'm also in a role selling cellphones, and when faced with this situation I ask them to show me what they're doing from start to finish to see where the problem lies. That way, no patronising questions, no assumptions - just useful information.

Comment by elliss, on 18-Jan-2011 14:45

Yes I completely understand you can never assume anything with a user.  I deal with computers and users daily, a user will say to me "my computer is not working" by this you may think it is not going at all, but by asking a serise of questions and looking at there computer often it just means there password on one application is not working because they have there caps lock on.

Only the other day I was talking to someone about there iPod and I asked them what type of iPod they had and they said they had a Sony and didn't understand why I found that funny.

Comment by kinsten, on 19-Jan-2011 16:08

brilliant.  yes run into those situations all the time being software help desk for retail software.  But I usually find other technicians the worst to deal with at times.  They are the ones who assume they know everything, and as far as they are concerned, its our software thats the issue, not the well recorded windows errors that we help point out to them that a HDD is faulty or windows updates wants to restart the pc mid-trade (as if its not their job to check these anyway).

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Richard Randles
New Zealand