Remote access is used pretty frequently these days. With it a support person, operating from his/her own office, can take control of the user’s workstation and not only see what the problem is but try out solutions. This can be done while talking to the user on the phone or in the background, while the user does other (non-computer) work or is in a meeting.
If your help desk doesn’t have remote access capability, stomp around and kick your feet until your department gets it. You’ll be doing everyone — not least, yourself! — a favor. (When you’re on a call where the user can’t handle remote access, stomp around and kick your feet for them, too.)
Here are a few tips for using remote access.
- Security is important for the users peace of mind. Make sure your remote access set up forces the user to “invite” you onto his/her workstation and gives the user a clear indication that you’re no longer tapped in.
- If the user is using a modem, get the user’s cell phone number. This is especially important for users who operate from small businesses or their home.
- Before starting the sign in process clarify over the phone that you will be taking control of and have full access to the user’s workstation. Make sure the user gives his assent before proceeding.
- Make sure the user has closed as many applications as possible. Remote access can consume a lot of the workstation’s overhead — especially on smaller, older machines. Closing unnecessary applications reduces the chance that your connection will be disrupted.
- Make sure the user knows to remove anything personal or “embarrassing” from their desktop. The number of truly weird wallpapers and desktop shortcuts to (shall we say) less than professional websites or files out there is astounding, and not only do you not want to see them (or maybe you do, but that wouldn’t be professional, either!) but your user might not even be aware just how public they are to someone logging onto their workstation.
Once you’ve signed in:
- It can get pretty confusing when both you and the user want to “take control.” Let the user know when they’re in control and when you intend to take control.
- If appropriate have the user demonstrate what she was doing when the problem occurred. Let the user control this part of the session.
- It’s best if the user can walk through the complete demonstration before you ask any questions. Stopping the user mid-way to ask “why are you doing this” is confusing and could lead the user down a side path.
- If the user cannot replicate the problem, circle back to make sure everything is as it was when the initial problem occurred. Were there other applications open at the time? Was the user working on a different application when the problem app crashed?
- If the problem involves displaying personal or confidential data that the user is reluctant to access while you’re online, see if the problem can be replicated by using other, “safer” data.
- It’s rare to get a close up view of how a user is using your system: take advantage by looking for opportunites to show the user shortcuts, tips or tricks that may make the process they’re demonstrating easier. For example, if the user seems to be laboriously picking their way through a long table of records to get to the “problem” record, demonstrate how to sort or filter the table. Users REALLY appreciate these suggestions and they have so few chances to learn them!
While fixing the problem:
- It’s always a bad idea to ask for a users passwords. If you know you’re going to need access to a feature that is password protected, make sure the user is available to type it in. If the user needs to leave her office while you’re working, re-schedule the help session rather than ask for passwords.
- It’s fine if the user wants to put the phone on mute while you work. Putting you on hold, though, is a waste of everyone’s time. It never fails: once they put you on hold you need to ask them a question. (That cell phone number can come in handy in these cases, too!)
- Let the user walk through the process that caused the problem so they can verify it’s been fixed.
- Close everything you’ve opened, including files, spreadsheets, documents, web sites and applications.
- Log off the user’s workstation before you get off the phone.
Send a comment with your favorite remote access tips and tricks and I’ll add them to this post. Good luck!