"I said, 'It should be there, unless you accidentally deleted it.' I walked her through refreshing the list and arranging the printers by name, but she still couldn't find it," Crotwell says.
Then, the schmidt really hit the fan (so to speak): Ms. S. paused, issued a couple of quiet "ohhs," and said the sentence Crotwell will never forget: "Wait a minute -- why would my printer be ... uh, you didn't mean for me to go to your computer, did you?"
That's right, gang: Ms. Schmidt misinterpreted "My Computer" to mean Crotwell's actual computer -- not the Windows icon on her own virtual desktop.
"She took it literally and just went straight down the hall to my computer," Crotwell chuckles. Once he realized what was going on, Crotwell got Ms. Schmidt back on track and wiped out her problem in no time. These days, you can bet he's a bit more careful when choosing his words.
"It really cracked me up," Crotwell says. "It's easy to take for granted how something second nature to us can sound completely different to a user."
Stupid tech support trick No. 2: Finding the perfect pitchEffectively communicating with clients is a common challenge of customer support, especially when help is being provided over the phone. For Michelle Fiske, a productivity consultant at PC Helps, the challenge recently reached new heights -- and forced her to drop to a new low.
Fiske was working with an older customer who didn't have the best hearing. No matter how slowly she spoke or clearly she enunciated, the man couldn't make out a word she said.
Maybe it was intuition, or maybe it was a matter of experience with her own golden-yeared relatives, but Fiske was struck with a revelation: She realized the high pitch of her voice was probably the issue. She tested her hypothesis in the most scientific way she could come up with -- you know, doing her best Brad Garrett impersonation. Sure enough, it worked.
"He sort of laughed at me and said that it was much better and he could understand," Fiske remembers. "He seemed surprised I could get my voice down so low like that."
Fiske conducted the rest of the call using what she describes as her "deep demon voice." She says it was tough to remain professional while sounding so silly, but despite smirks and curious glares from coworkers, she stuck it out and solved the gentleman's problem.