About three years ago, a friend of mine was frustrated that when trying to deal with a problem at the Apple Store, she felt like she was being treated like an idiot. My response was that she needed to better demonstrate she had some technical proficiency so as not to be put back to square one.
That advice is relevant to anyone, male or female, by the way. Everyone has a technical brain they can demonstrate that sometimes speeds up the process when dealing with technical support people, who often assume you have no technical knowledge at all.
To be fair to technical support folks, starting at the very basics makes sense. We’ve all heard the stories of the people who couldn’t get their computers to start because the power wasn’t switched on, the CD drive being used as a cupholder and so on. Yes, they deal with a lot of people with little technical knowledge.
Still, it can be frustrating for someone who had tried all types of things, only to have a technical support person want to start them back at the basics — “is the power on” — and sometimes coupled with that condescending tone that indicates you clearly must be an idiot.
Enter the technical brain. Basically, it was the best way to explain to my friend the process of getting the technical support people up to speed that you’re up to speed. Show them what you’ve got, because they often assume you have nothing — and sometimes, as a result, act like you’re not worthy of respect.
Anyway, in her case, her iPhone died. She’d tried everything to get it to work. And her husband and I also tried everything, including a hard reset, plugging into iTunes, you name it.
So at the Apple store, she was taken back through the basics — and it was frustrating to her. Eventually, they understood we’d tried all these things, none of them worked and agreed the phone needed to be replaced.
Showing your technical brain in such a situation would have been explaining it all before: “My iPhone won’t start. I’ve tried a soft reset, a hard reset, I’ve plugged into iTunes, etc.”
Showing your technical proficiency this way, I’ve found, often moves the tech support process along. I just went through it again with a bad Kinect controller for the Xbox One. Tech support — which I reached after an incredibly frustrating process — wanted me to go back to all the basics including restarting my Xbox.
Yes, I’d done that, I explained. I’d done every single thing on the troubleshooting document on the web site, three times. The Kinect was dead. There’s nothing more to troubleshoot. Could I just get it replaced? And it was.
So it’s been on my mind recently, and again today with another technical issues I had to deal with.
It is, by the way, important to understand showing your technical brain doesn’t mean being rude. Demonstrating what you’ve got can speed the process along. And it can, I think, help you deal with the technical support people to understand what you’ve already done. But, frustrating as they can be, they also have a tough job — so helping them is the goal.