Professionalism – CompTIA A+ 220-801: 5.3

When a computer breaks, it’s common for the anxiety levels to rise. In this video, you’ll learn techniques that can help you maintain the highest levels of professionalism.
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It’s important to keep in mind that even though we are working with our computers, we’re also working with people. So we need to maintain a level of professionalism, regardless of the situation we might find ourself in. Whenever you’re talking with a customer, or you’re helping an end user, you always want to maintain a very positive tone of voice. You want to give them encouragement about solving their particular issue.

But of course there are some problems that simply can’t be fixed. Occasionally you might have a hard drive failure, and all of the data might be lost. But the idea is that you’re doing your best.

And you’re making sure that you have options for the customer, regardless of what the issue happens to be, even if the problem can’t actually be resolved. Your attitude is going to have a big impact on how you work with this customer, and the overall experience they’re going to have throughout this entire process. Even if they lose all of the data on their hard drive, the important thing is that you’ve handled it so professionally that they are going to make sure they’re comfortable next time when they need a problem resolved.

As you’re solving technical problems, you may find yourself going to someone’s desk, or even going into their home to solve their computer issue. In those environments, you may find yourself outside of a culture that you’re familiar with. And in those environments, you want to be sure that you’re able to handle that with the utmost professionalism. Even if it’s a culture that you’re not familiar with, you’re still solving a problem for person. And you need to maintain the utmost professionalism.

Also keep in mind that you’re there to teach. You’re not there to pass judgment, or make insults over the way they handle things on their computer, or how they might understand the operation of a particular application or a piece of the operating system. You don’t want to insult people when you’re trying to solve their problems. Make sure that you make this a learning experience. And if they’re doing something wrong, you can show them the best way to do it right next time.

The best possible scenario is that you’re making people smarter. You’re making people work with their technology even better. And if you can leave the environment having solved the problem and make them better at what they’re doing, that’s a win-win situation.

And of course you don’t want to pass judgment. Because you yourself are going to make mistakes. Sometimes you’re going to make big mistakes.

Sometimes these mistakes will cost people time. They might even cost people money. And the most important thing is that you learn how to handle it with professionalism, and that you learn from it. So that that particular problem doesn’t occur again.

If you’ve ever been in a retail store and trying to get help, but everyone in the store is either talking on the phone or they’re talking to a co-worker instead of helping you, it could be very frustrating. And you don’t want to have the same thing happen for your customers. So make sure that if you’re at someone’s desk, or someone’s house, you’re working on their equipment and your phone rings, that’s not the time to answer the phone and talk on the phone. You want to be sure to send that to voicemail. Or say that you’ll call someone right back. Ideally your phone ringer will be off, and you’ll never know that anybody called to start with.

Also don’t take interruptions from coworkers. If somebody need something urgently, that’s obviously something different. But if you’re trying to resolve a problem it’s best that you dedicate and devote all of your efforts into solving that particular problem at hand.

If there are unavoidable delays, or if there are distractions that you just can’t get rid of, make sure you apologize to your customer over those distractions. Sometimes a simple apology can solve a lot of different problems. Don’t be afraid to let somebody know that you understand that was an issue, and that you’ll try to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

You want to take every opportunity to build an environment where people can converse with each other. If there is communication going in both directions, the entire process tends to go so much easier. I used to have at my desk an enormous bowl of candy– not that cheap candy, I mean the good candy. I wanted people to come to my desk, to sit down, and have a conversation. It might be about something relating to a project. It may not. But we’re building a relationship, and making sure that people know that they can come into my office, have a seat, get some candy, and at least enjoy a conversation with me.

If you are on the phone you can do a similar thing just by making sure that somebody knows that you’re listening to them. Make sure there’s not a lot of background noise, that they’re able to understand exactly what you’re saying. Don’t leave it on speaker phone if you’re trying to have a very detailed conversation. Make sure that everything is clear and that those lines of communication are open all the time.

Where you really start to see people become unhinged is when the problems are really, really stressful. These are situations where the tensions are high and everybody is very sensitive about solving the particular problem at hand. In those situations, even though people may be saying things they shouldn’t be saying, you don’t want to turn defensive. You’re the one who can probably solve all of their problems. So you want to make sure you are as professional as possible.

Don’t contradict what someone’s saying, even if what they’re saying is absolutely off the mark– that they are mentioning problems that couldn’t possibly be happening. It’s all about communicating their frustration to you. So don’t stop them.

Don’t contradict what they’re saying. Take in as much information as possible. And be able to sift out and filter out information later on.

Sometimes you can diffuse the entire tense issue just by making sure someone understands that you recognize their problem and that you’re going to help them solve it. And one of the best ways to do is just listen to what they’re saying. Sometimes these frustrations just need to get out in the open.

And then everybody can relax and concentrate on solving the problem at hand. The goal is just to communicate. Even if there’s no update to a problem, even if you’re just checking in to see how things are working, that communication process becomes incredibly important, and works towards making the entire situation that much more professional.

Sometimes these technical issues are really stressful. Somebody has a presentation that has to be done tomorrow. Somebody has information that they must get out, or they’re going to lose that account. There might be a lot of money on the line.

So it’s very important that you’re able to solve these problems as efficiently and effectively as possible. Even for an end user, sometimes the smallest little thing can be enormous. If they’re trying to get through a presentation and their mouth is having an issue– a bad mouse isn’t that big of a problem for you. But for them at that moment, it is an enormous problem. And you need to be able to solve it as professionally as possible.

So you’re going to turn into not only a technician, but also a counselor. You’re going to need to take all of the stress that somebody’s having that they need to get out and put on to you, and you need to bring that in. And somehow find ways to be able to turn that stress into solving the problem for what they need to have done.

More than ever we have personal and private information that’s contained within databases, and information that’s all electronic. And you may be brought in to solve a problem in one of these environments that has very sensitive and personal, private information. You need to maintain your professionalism in those environments, and make sure that you’re able to resolve the problem as quickly as possible. Because we’re often in charge of the servers and the disks that hold this private and personal information, we also have a professionalism that we have to maintain.

Just because we have access to data doesn’t mean we should be looking through that data. So you want to be sure that even though you have the ability to look through that information, that you maintain the professionalism not to look at someone’s private and personal data. Ultimately, it comes down to the respect you have for other people and for yourself. You certainly wouldn’t want other people looking through your private information. And of course they’re trusting you to be professional, and make sure that you handle that data with the utmost respect.