Ask the Coach

Empathy for Frustration

Q. Dear Help Desk Coach:

A user has escalated her complaint to management about the way she was addressed by the help desk tech. The tech asked her to repeat her problem, and the user didn’t like that and gave the tech ‘attitude’ and then complained to the manager about the tech. Desktop support solved the problem earlier in the week, but the problem returned. How should the manager address the user’s bad attitude and lack of respect shown when the help desk tech asked her to repeat the problem?

A. Dear Help Desk Supporter:

It certainly sounds like this user was frustrated that an issue has recurred. While her demeanor might not have been ‘tech friendly’, her irritation at a recurring issue is understandable. I believe the role of the help desk agent is not only to fix technical issues, but to also empathize with the user. Most people feel frustrated when technology glitches interfere with getting the job done. That frustration compounds when the glitch reoccurs. I believe the most professional help desk support focuses on their role of resolving user issues, and resists the temptation to spend time as ‘attitude police.’