Having read various blogs and participated in several Facebook groups I have come to realise that many techies, or techie wannabes totally miss the point.
Someone will post their complaint, and a lot of “answers” appear from various people. It seems we are all too quick to give a solution rather than discover what the actual error is.
As with going to a doctor with a complaint of any sort, the physician will ask us questions, these questions are to assist in diagnosing what our problem is. He wouldn’t just dish out medication without first knowing what the root cause is. So the same should be for a technician.
Some of us are all too eager to be the “only right one”, and arguments develop. This actually puts us techies all in a bad light, clients tend to shy away from people that are arguing, because to them that’s a sign of not know what you are doing. I also have fallen into this trap, arguing that my point is correct.
So how do we diagnose? Surely there has to be a professional approach to PC hardware diagnosis and repairs?
Well firstly we have to have a machine with a problem. Let’s take a basic desktop and give it a problem that we all know and go through a few simple diagnostic steps I feel we should all follow. In this situation we will already know that the motherboard is blown. Our client walks into our shop or posts online the following;
“My computer turns on but won’t load Windows!”
Here we have a distressed person! Our first thought should be “why” and then “is there any visual activity or error code?” What we would need to ask our client, calmly, is (not necessarily in the same order);
- How long has this been happening, and have you had any problems before?
- What happened before this problem occurred?
- What have YOU tried to resolve the problem yourself? (in this case use tact because usually clients have tried something but wont say because they are scared they stuffed up the machine themselves, even if they have don’t make them feel bad by saying so!)
I find it also helps, if you have the space to do it, is test the machine in front of the client while you ask the questions. Usually as techies we have all the necessary tools to do so. Just a basic test is needed, connect it up to screen, keyboard and mouse, plug in power. All in the while asking your client questions about the machine. Some other questions you can ask are;
- When was the last time you had your machine serviced? (don’t ask where that’s unprofessional)
- What do you use the machine for? (Don’t ask about porn or joke about it, unless you know the person WELL)
- What kind of protection does your computer have? (Antivirus, UPS, Network lightening protection etc)
Keep it general and short, although some clients may “sound” like they are IT know-it-alls, in majority of the cases they are not. What we really don’t want to do is make our clients feel small, or stupid, or even insinuate that we think they are, even us IT pros make mistakes and need redirection!
Once you have established a kind of camaraderie with your client and you have managed to glean some information about the history of the machine, you can now begin to do the more technical side of diagnosis.
If the client has now left you with the machine and gone, you can now take it to the back (your workshop), after filling out a Job card with the client. YOU DO HAVE JOB CARDS DON’T YOU?
Once you have the machine in your workshop, redo the same tests you did in front of the client, just to make sure. If you have one or two spare machines, test each component from the client’s machine in them to make sure that they are indeed working.
After ascertaining which part is broken, make sure you have a similar part for replacement available, contact your client and quote them before you proceed with replacing. Some clients will just say fix it no matter the cost, still CALL AND QUOTE!
Some techies have ALL the necessary tools to test which can actually save a lot of time, but as we have issues in Zimbabwe (currently) with getting these tools, which are mighty expensive for the right quality, I find that my method works smoothly.
Normally if I am not able to find the right solution I rely on my network of friends who are all techies in different companies. Don’t try to be a “Know it all” ask a friend even if they work elsewhere! I know this as I was guilty of this myself in the past!
I hope you find this useful. If you running your own hardware repair outfit what other approach do you use to offer professional service delivery? What tips and tools can you offer other techies? Please feel free to share below.
This article was written by tech and gaming enthusiast Mark Fulton. He has experience in hardware maintenance and tech sales. He loves working with computers, horse riding and rugby. He can be e-mailed on firstname.lastname@example.org