Wednesday, September 29, 2010

5 Questions to Ask Every User When Troubleshooting an Issue

Well, maybe not every question pertains to the issue in question. However, you will find that these five basic questions can help you, as an IT Technician, resolve a problem faster than normal. So lets get right to it, shall we?

Question #1: Is anyone else experiencing this issue?
The service desk or help desk is the first line of defense for IT support. That means that 1st level support gets all of the phone calls from users directly and are usually first informed about major IT outages. This also means that the help desk is usually LAST informed about outages from 2nd or higher level support teams (it is a sad truth, isn't it?). Asking if anyone else is having the same issue helps to determine the severity of the issue and also helps 1st level support prepare for incoming call or email traffic. It may also notify higher-level support that there actually is and issue to begin with. This question should be either the first or the second question in the line of questions asked to a user and will become one of the most common question a user should be prepared to answer quickly (especially if they are a frequent caller).

Question #2: Is this the first time you have experienced this issue? If so, when?
Identifying trends is critical to the improvement of IT services and this question helps to get down to the bottom of recurring issues. You want to know if there is a recurring issue so that you can notify management, or the next level of support, or if the user simply needs training.

Question #3: Has anything changed since this issue started?
You want to know if anything has changed. Maybe an application was installed, or the computer was moved from one place to another, or the user had certain security rights updated. There is one thing that you need to realize about issues right now: Issues are ALWAYS caused by a change.

Question #4: Do you experience the same issue on a different computer?
This question may or may not apply but a good thing to try when stumped on troubleshooting an issue is to try the same thing on another computer. This helps to determine if the problem is security or profile related.

Question #5: What is the impact that this issue has on you or your department?
I guarantee that nine times out of ten Captain Obvious will answer this question by saying, “This is a major problem and needs to be fixed now!”. But this is a very important question to ask as it helps to determine the severity of the issue, its effect on the business, and it helps to manage prioritization of IT resources to fix the issue. Severity, effect, and priorities are 3 different things but all are intertwined. Just make sure that you know this: Severity is an assessment of the degree of impact to the end-user.