Ask the Coach

Dealing With Requests for Personal Support

Q. Dear Help Desk Coach:

This time of year I’m especially swamped with end users in my company who expect me to either support software they’ve loaded on their laptops themselves for their kids (or their personal use). Especially if the user is an executive I feel like I cannot refuse, but sometimes these calls are really long, and sometimes I don’t know enough about the software to help, and then the user gets mad. (A few even want me to come to their house to help!!!)

A. Dear Help Desk Harry:

I hear this a lot, especially from the really good help desk agents. While flattering, these requests put you in a difficult position. When you turn down the out of bounds request, you might feel as if you’re not customer friendly even though the requests violate company policy. Requests from high on the food chain can feel even more compelling. My recommendation is to:

  1. Tell the user you’re complimented they asked you to support software the company hasn’t trained you to support.
  2. Remind the user that you’re allowed to support company software, and don’t want to provide them with bad information or waste their time.
  3. Suggest they contact software manufacturer for help or
  4. Recommend local tech support service that makes house calls. End the call by offering help with any company software or equipment issues.