I’m going go steer away from the very technical “how-to” type things I’ve written in the past and instead give a little bit of job advice to anyone who finds themselves in a technical role for the first time.
Sooner or later, we all have to deal with technical support-type questions.
It’s very tempting in these cases to take everything you’re told at face value and ask simple yes/no questions for more detail. On the face of it, this makes some sense – they can be easy to understand, quick to answer and get you to the root cause very quickly.
I would argue that they’re terrible questions. Yes, sometimes you get useful answers, but as often as not you get:
- Answers that are downright wrong. Maybe the customer misunderstood the question, maybe they didn’t understand it at all but were afraid to admit ignorance.
- Answers that aren’t wrong, but aren’t terribly helpful. Example: “No, I haven’t seen any error messages” (but considering my computer hasn’t actually got as far as logging me in that shouldn’t be terribly surprising).
- Drawn into an argument. Example: “I’ve already told you what the problem is, now are you going to fix it?!”