Doing Your Job And The Support Technician's Job, Too

The Need-to-Know Summary:

No DNR Associate should be tasked by any Technical Support personnel, either over the phone or in person, with doing any work that a Technical Support technician should rightfully be doing, and doing such work at the DNR site. 

The Details:

I’ve received several reports lately where DNR Associates have been asked to crawl around on the floors inspecting cables and connections, unplugging and rearranging cables, moving equipment, and—in at least one case – even being instructed over the phone on installing a piece of network-related equipment that was shipped to one of our more remote locations. 

Quite simply, this is unacceptable.

We are paying for computer, network, Internet, and telephony services and support. It goes beyond the scope of the responsibilities of our DNR Associates to do work that – by all accounts and reasoning – should be done by a qualified technician sent to the site.

This is not to jump on any of my DNR colleagues who have followed such telephone instructions. Quite the contrary; I know they were trying to be helpful and they wanted to get their outage issue remedied as soon as possible. I don’t blame them, especially if their site was hard down because of no Internet service.

However, no DNR Associate should ever have been put in such a position by any Technical Support – whether by the GETS Help Desk or (for those 60 or so sites that have been converted to Broadband) Guardian Technical Support.

It is one thing to be asked to power your computer off and then on, or to check to make sure your monitor or network cables are connected and seated properly, or to insert a CD at the request of a technician who is installing software for you remotely, or even to go check a remote emergency phone at the site to make sure the phone is working. That is part of logical troubleshooting, and that’s OK.

But when it goes beyond simple steps, and gets into unplugging cables from one network switch port and plugging them into another, or you being asked to determine where a cable runs to, or being told by someone over the phone how to install a piece of equipment, then that goes beyond our responsibilities as DNR employees and rightfully becomes the responsibility of a technician who should dispatched to the site for further troubleshooting.

If we break something, or drop a piece of equipment and damage it, then it is our fault and  we pay the price.

If technical support personnel damage equipment or make some catastrophic mistake, then that is their issue, not ours.

Let me put it this way. Let’s say you took your vehicle to Bubba’s Fill Dirt and Quick Oil Change.  How would you like it if Bubba had you get down in the pit, handed you a filter wrench, and told you to remove your old oil filter?  And after you get the new filter on, he’ll show you which hose to use to fill your vehicle with five quarts of 10W-40, and into which filler to put it.

Not a very good idea, is it? But that’s the same thing as some Technical Support person asking you over the phone to do work that a technician should do at the site.

So, if you find that your Technical Support person is hesitant to schedule a technician site visit, or if they want to try to talk you through anything other than a few simple steps to do some initial problem verification or verify that connectivity is OK, then the answer should be a polite but firm, “Thank you, but no, we have been instructed not to do that.”