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IT Support Stereotypes

Did You Try Turning It Off and On Again? (And Other Common IT Support Questions)

We deliver many things to our customers across the UK, ranging from hardware acquisition, delivery and installation right through to bespoke telecommunications packages, full managed services and intelligent building solutions. Maybe it’s not surprising that a large portion of our day-to-day operations are focused on providing IT support and advice.

Most workplaces will be familiar with the stereotypical personality types and habits that come with a particular department. Even if they’re not often true. Sales professionals aren’t always power hungry go-getters with slick hair and expensive watches. Accountants are often the opposite of quiet and boring number-crunchers. Receptionists don’t have to be chatty gossip-mongers. Breaking these stereotypes in the workplace is essential to making sure that your team operates in a happy and judgement-free environment, and that’s definitely a good thing.

IT Support Stereotypes

With this in mind, we’re certainly no strangers to the well-known conventions of your stereotypical IT professionals. The odd turns of phrase, the space-invaders t-shirts, the fascination with keeping the curtains closed… we’ve heard them all.

Okay, so we might be guilty of some of these.

But stereotypes don’t stop at a personality level – they can extend to professional terminology and work-place behaviours as well. Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly heard IT support advice, starting with that old favourite…

Did You Try Turning It Off and On Again?

This one’s a real classic. If there were some IT-based religious organisation, this would be written on the walls of our churches. Rare is the occasion that, on meeting somebody new and mentioning what we do for a living, we won’t be somehow reminded of this phrase by said new person.

As with many things, however, this line has more than a grain of truth to it. In fact, one of the reasons that it’s so synonymous with us IT people is that we still say it. Often. And with gusto.

The truth is that as a rule, it’s generally best to start identifying or resolving a problem with the easy stuff (a practice that will become more apparent as we work down this list). After all, there’s no sense in pulling out all of the stops and making things horribly complicated and time-consuming before we’ve even burped the baby.

And sometimes that’s all it takes. Our computers, phones, tablets and other gizmos collect and process so much data and information over time that they can become congested. This can result in reduced performance, slow or sluggish behaviour or even outright break-downs. Turning our devices off and on again is often the key to clearing out these temporary data stores.

Did You Use the Correct Username and Password?

This is one of the first things that IT support professionals might ask a customer in situations where they’re having trouble accessing a service, application or account. Again however, it all comes down to starting simple, and that means checking that the credentials were entered correctly.

It might sound trivial, especially when you’ve been logging in with this username and password for ages now. But you’d be surprised how often something as simple as a typo turns out to the the cause of a problem.

We all do it – I definitely still do it. Check and double check how you’re logging in and you could save yourself a lot of time. If it’s confirmed that you’re using the right credentials after all, that’s when we can move onto new avenues of investigation.

Is Everything Plugged In and Switched On?

This can be a sticky one. I should start by saying that when an IT support engineer asks a customer this question, they are in no way implying that the customer is… well, you know. Their job is to identify the source of a problem, and this means asking questions that would usually seem like real no-brainers. In a truly professional environment, no offence is ever intended to the customer.

Before you make that call, take a few minutes to check the cabling. Is everything where it should be? Does anything look loose, or is there some plug that’s flopping about with no obvious home to go to? Is the switch at the mains on?

You’ll probably find that all is fine here and everything is indeed plugged in and switched to the “on” position. But again it’s entirely possible that something could have been knocked out by an over-excited vacuum cleaner or, if you work from home, the cat or some unusually aggressive goldfish. You’d be surprised how easily this can happen.

Okay, maybe not the goldfish.

Is Your Software Up To Date?

Generally speaking, technology is always on the move. Always. This includes computers, gadgets, appliances, software, hardware and pretty much everything else.

What this means is that updates are frequently released to various applications that will address or fix some recognised issues, or simply make them more compatible with your operating system (which is also always updating by the way). If you haven’t got automatic updates switched on then this could mean that whatever application you’re using might be running at reduced performance.

It’s very important to keep your software up to date. Not only will this help ensure it runs correctly, but outdated software can also increase the potential for security risks.