By Tyler Regas

Profiling can help reduce your work at an IT help desk. Nobody likes the sound of the word profiling as it has negative connotations, but as a human, you profile things all day long. In fact, profiling really comes in handy when you’re working with loads of different people who all need help and have their own expectations.

The Luddite

This individual isn’t exactly a Luddite (one who shuns technology), but he simply doesn’t grasp the concepts of general computing. A Luddite is often a professional, such as businessperson, administrator, or the like. Some Luddites can even be officers in a corporation, although it isn’t common.

A Luddite merely repeats steps, and if something changes, he is immediately lost.

Treatment: You must be patient with the Luddite and visually verify all aspects of his issues. In order to win over a Luddite, you must be able to identify with his issues so that he feels that you understand him and aren’t just an arrogant support desk engineer.

After you identify a Luddite, one of your first steps should be to initiate a remote session. The less the client must describe to the engineer, the more comfortable he will feel.

If it helps, you can tell a Luddite that it’s okay for him to leave his desk while you work on his problem. Many Luddite types will appreciate not needing to be included in the process.

Permanently install the Luddite as a remote client so that he never has to click on anything again to get remote support.

The Chairperson

The Chairperson’s focus is on business, logistics, and operations. Her technology skills are fair to median, but she views technology as means to an end. When it doesn’t perform, she gets frustrated.

Chairpersons come in two types:

  • The In‐Your‐Face Type I does everything on her own as she generally can’t rely on others to get it done to her satisfaction.

  • The Through‐A‐Proxy Type II uses her assistant for everything.

Treatment: It pays to be deferential to these people because they are likely the ones who sign your checks. They likely have an expectation that their service will be better and quicker than others.

When dealing with Type Is, focus primarily on reducing their need to interact with you or the system. If you need extra help or more time, inform Type Is and give them an ETA.

If you are working with Type IIs, determine the type of their assistant and work with them on that level.

The Lounge Chair

A Lounge Chair is cool with everything, is generally self‐confident, understands your issues, and realizes that he is not the top of the heap.

The Lounge Chair is often very easy to deal with and likes to joke around after he gets to know you a little. In fact, this lounge lizard may lull you into a state of relaxation that you cannot afford. From the moment you’re on the phone or in IM with this person, you are his best pal.

Treatment: Consider this individual’s relaxed state to be a dangerous rabbit hole of distraction. Focus on the task at hand and work through it. Resist the urge to chatter, but maintain at least some small interest in what he is talking about, or he will feel ignored.

The Stress Level

This character comes in two primary forms: Alpha Stress Level and Proxy Stress Level. She must have any issues dealt with in a timely fashion, preferably last week. The Stress Level is generally a high strung folk with a classic Type A personality.

Treatment: Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to send this person somewhere to distract her. While it may not be pleasant, you must engage the Stress Level in the solution in order to win her over. Do as much as you can to focus on the problem and a possible solution as quickly as possible and then explain it to her from a 10,000 foot perspective while you are working on the solution.

If you can manage to show the Stress Level that you can figure things out, calm her down, and fix the problem all at the same time, she will develop a begrudging respect for you.

The Professor

This persona is your friend, but in a rude, condescending way. Any problems this individual has must be the fault of the support team or source from a hardware failure.

The Professor is often indignant about not having administrator access to “his” system and looks on the need to call for assistance with great loathing and disdain. The Professor’s MO is to explain all the technical (to him) things he has done to try to solve the problem.

Treatment: First, don’t interrupt the Professor while he is listing all of the steps he has tried so far. This information can be helpful, either in determining whether he actually knows something or that he doesn’t.

Do not, under any circumstances, explain how the technology works to this personality. In fact, speak to him as if he is just another engineer. This approach may cause him to start respecting you as you treat him like an equal. At no time shall you reveal to him that the problem was user error, even if it was.

The Perfect User

This personality is the perfect client. The Perfect User is attentive, kind, and accommodating and will speak well of you to the ends of the Earth. You make a point of checking in on the Perfect User, making sure that she is happy and fixing any issues as quickly as you can, even though she says she can wait.

Treatment: You will naturally try to help the Perfect User as much as you can. Do not, however, take her for granted. It is her praise that she liberally spreads around the office that fosters and grows your cachet in the office and causes more Perfect Users to be born.