Passing the A+ Certification exams isn’t an end in
itself—it is designed to help start (or advance) your Information
Technology (IT) career. In most IT careers, how you deal with customers,
whether they’re people you see day after day in your company or clients
you might see only once or twice, can have as much of an impact on your
career progress as your knowledge of hardware, software, firmware, and
operating systems. The following sections will help you master the “soft
skills” you need to move up in the computing world.
How to Talk to Customers
According to pop-culture references like the Dilbert
comic strip and innumerable others, computer techs are incapable of
relating to “normal” people in either social
professional situations. Unfortunately, these comic stereotypes are
based on a lot of real-world data. Here’s how to reverse the stereotype,
one customer interaction at a time:
• No matter how difficult the problem, maintain a positive attitude and tone of voice—Your
job is to make possible the seemingly impossible. As discussed earlier
in this chapter, there are abundant resources available from Microsoft,
hardware vendors, and numerous forums and newsgroups to help you solve
• No matter how tough the problem (or the customer), avoid arguing with customers—and drop the defensive attitude too—Your job is to solve the customer’s problem.To do that, you need to work with the customer. Get it? Got it? Good!
• No matter how many times you’ve seen the same problem show up, do not minimize customers’ problems—Sure,
you might have seen a couple of dozen instances of drive failure, for
example, but keep in mind that every person with a dead drive has lost
valuable personal or business data—maybe even enough of a loss to wipe
out a business. You wouldn’t want your handyman or mechanic acting as if
your house or car problems were trivial—don’t act as if your customers’
problems are trivial, either.
• No matter how incorrect their actions or poor their judgment, avoid being judgmental of your customers—and while you’re at it, drop the insults and name-calling—Declaring
“war” on your customers just adds to everyone’s stress level and
doesn’t get you any closer to a solution. Even if the customer decides
to call your ancestry or intelligence into question, avoid responding in
kind. “Fight the real enemy”—the computer problem!
• Don’t let your cell
phone, the big game on the big-screen TV, or the view out the corner
office window get between you and a solution: avoid distractions and/or interruptions when talking with customers—Stay focused on what your customer is telling you, and the solution will be easier to find.