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Textbook Table of Contents
  1.   Introduction to End-User Computing
  2.   Introduction to Computer User Support
  3.   Customer Service Skills for User Support Agents
  4.   Troubleshooting Computer Problems
  5.   Common Support Problems
  6.   Help Desk Operation
  7.   User Support Management
  8.   Product Evaluation Strategies and Support Standards
  9.   User Needs Analysis and Assessment
 10.   Installing End-User Computer Systems
 11.   Training Computer Users
 12.   Writing for End Users
 13.   Computer Facilities Management
       Appendix A: User Support Information Resources
       Appendix B: Answers to Check Your Understanding

Study Topics
  1. Ways to classify end users

  2. Computing resources that end users need

  3. What the job market demand is for user support employees

  4. Common ways that organizations provide a user support function

  5. Services that user support groups provide

  6. Typical position descriptions for user support staff members

  7. The knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to qualify for an entry-level user support position

  8. The importance of communication skills and customer service relationships

  9. Reasons for careful listening and reading

 10. How to build and communicate understanding

 11. Three important aspects of effective speaking in a support interaction

 12. How to develop an incident management strategy

 13. How to understand different personality types and work styles

 14. Strategies for handling difficult clients

 15. Guidelines for client-friendly support Web sites

 16. Other components of excellent customer service
50. The troubleshooting process and the thinking skills required for successful trouble shooting

51. Communication skills for troubleshooting

52. Which tools are used to troubleshoot computer problems

53. Strategies for troubleshooters

54. The types of common end-user computer problems

55. How problem-solving processes are applied to several typical support problems

56. The mission of a support group and the parts of a mission statement

57. The steps in staffing a support position

58. The contents of a training program for support staff

59. How to manage a user support project

60. The industry certifications that are available to support professionals

61. Ethical principles that guide the professional behavior of support workers

62. Basic strategies to perform user needs analysis and assessment

63. Major steps analysts undertake to analyze and assess a user’s needs

64. Common tools that aid support specialists in a user needs analysis project

65. Major site preparation steps for computer installations

66. Important tasks to prepare an installation site

67. The purpose and contents of a site management notebook

68. Wrap-up tasks that installers often perform

69. Goals of training activities

70. Steps in the training process

71. How to plan a training session

72. How to prepare a training session

73. How to present a training module

74. How to progress toward quality training

75. The types of end-user documentation

76. How technical writing differs from other writing

77. How technical documents are organized

78. How to plan effective documentation

79. The technical writing process

80. Strategies for technical writing

81. Common problems in technical writing

82. How to evaluate documentation
 50. The major types of computer facilities

 51. The most common facilities management problems

 52. Management tools and procedures for dealing with end-user facilities problems

Projects
  1. Discuss the importance of listening when working on a support desk. Identify ways that listening carefully ca
     useful tool in solving a problem. Discuss problems that can be encountered by listening poorly.


  2. Describe your personal problem solving philosophy, when acting as a troubleshooter. Cite examples of prob
     that you have helped solve recently.


  3. Discuss the effects of poor documentation and training on the volume and types of calls to a help center. Ex
     ways that improved documentation and end user training can benefit both the user and a help desk.


  4. Computer security incidents are on the rise, and the first sign of a security breach may be seen by a compan
     desk. Discuss the role of the help desk in the incident overall, and what could be done specifically by help de
     to aid in the investigation and recovery.


  5. Identify the stakeholders in a user needs analysis and assessment project. Discuss their role in the project.


  6. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of using lectures with PowerPoint or other slides to deliver cou
     information. Compare and contrast lecture delivery with self-paced learning that uses the same PowerPoint
     and other self-paced instruction materials.


  7. Discuss the various service level agreements that a support center can offer to end-users, be sure to highlig
     strengths and weaknesses of each level that you develop.


  8. As a technical support representative for your small company, you have been asked to put together specific
     for the standard machine purchased for average users. Identify ten things that you need to consider when p
     a computer purchases


  9. Sally Smith is the coordinator of the computer support center at Technology University. Her staff is responsi
     supporting a user community that consists of approximately 2000 faculty and staff members. There are curre
     full time support positions in the technology staff and 3 full time staff members and 3 part time student assis
     working at the help desk.

     Sally recently conducted a user satisfaction survey to learn how the faculty and staff at Technology Universi
     about the quality of the support provided. Sally was not happy about some of the responses to the survey. H
     a few of the comments that she was willing to share with the committee of faculty, staff and support represe
     brought together to make suggestions about improving the system:

     “I am an advanced computer user. I know quite a bit about my computer and I am willing to help my colleagu
     don’t mind answering questions, however, I cannot take time out to help everyone in my area. My colleague
     rather ask me questions than call the help desk”

     “The help desk runs smoothly when the coordinator is in the help desk area or when there is a full time staff
     available. When they are out of the office many of the help questions are answered incorrectly.”

     “The software manuals are locked in the office of a full time staff member. Whenever I want to have access
    software manual I have to track down this person to sign out the manual I would like to use. Why can’t the
    documentation be made available through the help desk staff?”

    If you were a member of this committee, what advice would you give Sally concerning the training and assis
    staff members? What support issues have been raised? What are some other ways Sally could address the
    Are some alternatives more expensive than others.


21. You are a support services representative for an Internet Service Provider (ISP). A customer calls with a com
    about not being able to access and read his e-mail. He is very upset and demonstrates a high stress level. H
    very angry, using inappropriate language and insists on getting off track to explain why he is so upset about
    seeing his e-mail. Describe what strategies you would use to clam the customer down, deal with his inappro
    language and get the support call back on track.


22. You are working on a help desk as first level support to answer user requests. Write a simple script that
    demonstrates a sincere greeting, reflects a tone and style that will have a positive impact on a customer’s
    stratification with the interaction and that will ascertain the purpose of the call.


23. You are a user support specialist. You have a user that had a problem opening a Word file on a diskette. Th
    tells you that she has saved the file and is now unable to open it. You receive an error about the path name.
    also find out from the user that the disk is very old and has been used repeatedly many times. You suspect
    problem might be a physical disk error. Use the Microsoft support knowledge base at http://microsoft.com/su
    windows manual or other documentation you have available to find out more about the program scandisk. W
    options would you use to fix any errors found on the disk?


24. Brian Mitchell is a professor in the Sociology department at Arkansas State University. He sent you an e-ma
    for advice about purchasing a new machine. Below you will find his e-mail. Identify what type of system wou
    best for this user. ASU has a contract with Dell Computers and Gateway Computers. Go to both sites and s
    the machine you intend to recommend to Dr. Mitchell. Write a return e-mail with the specifications and price
    system you would recommend.

    To: helpdesk@asu.edu
    From: mitchellb@asu.edu
    Date: 1-Oct-04
    Re: Computer Purchase

    I currently have a Pentium III 1.0 GHz desktop on my desk. I am interested in purchasing a new machine to
    compliment my office. I primarily use word processing programs, spreadsheets, Web browsers and e-mail. I
    be on sabbatical next semester and traveling to do research.

    I only have enough funds to purchase one machine. Should I purchase a laptop for my office or a desktop sy
    am interested in spending about $1500. What system would you recommend?

    Thank you!
    Brian Mitchell


25. Support Web sites are useful tools for both help desk professionals and users. Find at least four online supp
    sites for software or hardware vendors. Compare and contrast the features available at each site. Write a sh
    review of each site and rate how easy it was to find solutions to common problems on a scale of 1 to 5 with
    not very user friendly and 5 being very user friendly.


26. You have just been promoted to manager of a help desk for a small company. The current method of suppo
    the company is informal peer support, though each machine has full support from the hardware manufacture
    have been given two new support positions. Your company currently has a mix of Macintosh and PC compu
    Both platforms run an office suite. There is a small intranet and there is e-mail available for each employee.
    also have to do a limited amount of repair in house or be able to follow up with warranty problems when mac
    break. Write a list of knowledge, skills and abilities that are needed for these positions.


32. Examine the computer setup of several users that you know, and using the ergonomic guidelines provided i
    chapter, determine if there are ergonomic issues with the computer setup or office environment.


33. Sally Martinez is a user support specialist in the budget office for a manufacturing company. She has notice
    workers have wasted time formatting and performing wasted data entry in memos. Sally knows that if they
    understood how to create simple macros, some of the data entry could be automated.

    She has talked to her supervisor, Joe Smith, and he has authorized Sally to hold a two-hour training session
    employees interested in learning how to create and use macros. Plan and prepare a training module on crea
    simple Word macros. The training module you prepare should include all of the following elements:

    Planning (make assumptions when necessary

          Analyze job skills required

          Analyze the trainees

          Assess the needs of the trainees

          Set training objectives

    Preparation

          Select an organize training content

          Select training methods, techniques, aids

          Prepare training module

          Decide how to evaluate the training

    Write a brief description of your plan to address items 1 through 6 and 8 above. Then prepare the training m
    (item 7 above) you would use to train users on simple Word macros. As a goal, develop training material tha
    be used by another trainer.


34. You have been asked to configure an ideal training room. Determine how you would use a 20-foot by 25-foo
    training room. Determine how many lab stations you will be able to install. Draw out a configuration of tables
    systems. Make sure to include an instructor’s station, whiteboard, and any other equipment needed to set u
    effective training room.


35. You work for a large college in the training department. The faculty members have been complaining about
    amount of unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE or SPAM) they are receiving. The mail system tags potential
    You have been asked to create a simple training document entitled How to Filter Mail. This document should
    describe how to use the filtering capabilities in your supported mail package to filter the SPAM into a folder.


36. As a user support specialist for a helpdesk in a medium sized community college, you have been asked to c
    orientation guide for new faculty members. The orientation sheet should be no longer than one sheet (front a
    back) with a summary of the services that are available to faculty members.

    Your orientation guide can contain basic information about lab locations and operating hours, the hours of th
    support desk and the types of services the support desk can offer. You can use the information available fro
    local college (or university) or research this information on the Web.
 21. You have been asked to evaluate backup solutions for your organization. Look at three or four of the most p
     hardware systems on the market, such as tape backup units. Compare the strengths and weaknesses of ea
     product. Include a feature to cost comparison. Write a report recommending a backup solution that contains
     results of your comparison.

Key Terms
    abandonment rate
                                 Percentage of calls in which the user hung up before support staff responded.
    access controls
                                 Procedures and tools to limit electronic or remote entry into a computer system or network of computers; user ac
                                 passwords, and grants of access rights are common examples.
    active listening
                                 A communication skill in which a listener is as involved and engaged in the communication process as the speak
                                 paraphrasing is an example of an active listening skill.
    adaptive test
                                 A method used in certification exams that asks questions from a test database that are graded in difficulty from e
                                 moderate to difficult to try to quickly estimate the test taker's ability
    application service
    provider (ASP)               An organization that sells access to applications software and related services via the Internet to individuals or
                                 organizations.
    applications development
    backlog                      refers to the excess demand for new computer applications that outstripped the supply of computer professionals
                                 available to develop them
    archive
                                 A special database designed to store and retain copies of closed calls; in a manual call management system, thi
                                 a file of closed calls.
    auditory learner
                                 A trainee who learns most effectively by listening to someone talk through new material; lecture method relies he
                                 auditory learning skills.
    authentication procedure
                                 An incident management step that determines whether help desk staff are authorized to handle a call; usually inc
                                 checking product registrations and support services contracts.
    automated call distributor
    (ACD)                        A computer telephony system that automates many of the first steps in call management, such as a greeting, me
                                 options, caller authentication, call holding, queue management, and staff notification.
    automatic update
                                 A feature of operating systems and applications software that periodically checks a vendor’s Web site for update
                                 vendor recommends be downloaded and installed to bring the version of the software up to current specifications
    beta test run
                                 A practice training session to evaluate materials and identify problem areas; this term is borrowed from the softw
                                 industry, where prerelease software is distributed to end users who then look for problems.
    burn-in
                                 A 48to 72-hour period during which a new computer or component is operated nonstop in an attempt to discover
                                 problems and identify any marginal or temperature-sensitive components.
    call management
                                 A well-defined, formal procedure that help desk staff follow to handle primarily telephone contacts between end u
                                 support staff; compare to incident management.
    callback modem
                                 A modem that does not connect a dial-up user directly to a computer system, but returns the user's call to a pred
                                 secure telephone number for that user.
    client relationship
    management (CRM)             A process that aims to meet the needs of clients by providing excellent client service; CRM is based on findings t
                                 cost to an organization to replace a client is much greater than the cost of managing the relationship with an exis
                                 client.
    cold site
                                 A building and space where a replacement computer system could be installed quickly after a disaster; similar to
                                 site, but does not include operational equipment.
    computer facilities
    management                   Support services to help users with information and questions about security, media backups, viruses, ergonomic
                                 purchase of supplies, preventative maintenance, and other tasks required to keep a computer system operationa
    computer telephony
                                 Integration of computer technology and telephone technology into tools designed to increase help desk staff prod
                                 by providing a seamless interface between the two.
configuration problem
                             A difficulties that occur when the hardware or software settings are incorrect for the computer environment in wh
                             component must operate.
critical path
                             The sequence of project tasks that must be completed on time to meet a project's completion date; establishes im
                             milestones in a project's calendar.
deliverable
                             The end result of a needs analysis project, such as an assessment report, a recommendation, or a decision to bu
                             or upgrade a system.
delivery method
                             Instructional technologies, media, or approaches to present information or training materials, such as lectures, gr
                             discussions, hands-on activities, or computer-based tutorials.
differential backup
                             A copy to alternate media of only those files that have changed since the last full backup; takes less time to run a
                             media space than a full backup.
dirty power
                             Electricity that fluctuates beyond normal bounds in voltage, frequency, or other characteristics that can affect the
                             operation of computer hardware; power conditioners convert dirty power into clean power.
disaster/contingency plan
                             A planning document that describes various activities that will occur if a computer facility experiences a temporar
                             disruption of service; often address such events as fires, earthquakes, power outages, water damage, and sabot
Erlang
                             A unit of traffic (user calls) processed in a given period of time; used to estimate the number of support staff requ
                             respond to a volume of calls in a given time period.
experiential learner
                             A trainee who learns most effectively by performing a task (also called kinesthetic learning).
footprint
                             The amount of desktop space a system unit occupies; measured in square inches (length of case times width of
format consistency check
                             An edit pass through a draft in which a writer checks to make sure that the font of headings and subheadings, ind
                             centering, boldface, italics, underlining, and other formatting are used the same way throughout the document.
freeware
                             Computer software for which on purchase price or licensing fee is charged.
full backup
                             A copy to alternate media of all files (programs and data stored on a computer system or in a specified directory,
                             regardless of whether they were previously backed up.
goal state
                             A desired outcome or objective; in troubleshooting, a common goal state is to diagnose or repair a computer sys
                             return it to a normal operational state.
hot site
                             A backup computer installation maintained at a geographically distant location with computer equipment installed
                             operational; used in case of catastrophic failure of the equipment in a computer facility; compare with cold site.
incident management
strategy                     A collection of tools, techniques, and approaches that successful support agents use during an incident to move
                             an incident effectively and efficiently.
incremental backup
                             A copy to alternate media of only those files that have changed since the last backup of any kind; takes less time
                             and less media space than a full backup.
information controls
                             Procedures to account for and limit access to valuable or confidential information in a computer system.
installation software
                             Special-purpose utility software that aids in the installation of other software packages; often able to detect and c
                             configure software for most operating environments.
interactive voice response
(IVR)                        A computer telephony system that allows a user to interact with a database of information by pressing keys on a
                             telephone handset or speaking simple words into the telephone.
internal user
                             an in-house employee at any level within an organization who uses computers to do his or her work; compare wi
                             external user
investigation phase
                             The second phase of a user needs analysis and assessment project, in which analysts try to understand the pres
                             system or situation and alternatives to it.
KSAs
                             -The knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform a job.
minimal installation
                             A software installation option that installs the fewest functions and features possible to minimize the system reso
                             required to run the software; also called a laptop or space-saver installation.
module replacement
                             -A problem-solving strategy that replaces a hardware or software component whose operational status is unknow
                            one that is known to be operational.
multi-level support model
                            A help desk structure that organizes, support staff and services into several levels, or tiers, of support; sometime
                            a frontline/backline model, the goal is to handle calls at the lowest possible support level.
needs analysis
                            An investigation to determine the features and configuration of hardware and software that will best match a use
                            specific needs; also called needs assessment.
operating system
vulnerabilities             Unintended paths or gateways that permit unauthorized access into a system due to unpatched software bugs.
patch
                            A replacement for one or a few modules in a software package to fix one or more known bugs.
performance monitors
                            Hardware and software tools that show network administrators and user support staff how well a network system
                            operating; can alert staff to potential problems in the operation of a network.
performance problem
                            A category of computer problems whereby a system is operational, but does not operate as efficiently as it can o
                            often involves the interaction between hardware and software.
performance statistics
                            Objective summary information about a user support or help desk operation; usually expressed as important perc
                            such as the percentage of support calls answered in two minutes or less.
peripheral rotation
                            A strategy in which a heavily used computer component is periodically exchanged (rotated) with one in a lighter u
                            environment; extends the life expectancy of peripheral devices that get heavy use.
physical controls
                            Tools used in computer facilities to limit physical access to equipment and information; include locks, identificatio
                            badges, alarms, and physical restraints to secure equipment.
pointer
                            A references or cross-references in a document that indicate the location where a user can find more information
                            used in technical writing to reduce the size of a document by including directions to appendices, attachments, ex
                            figures, tables, and other related materials.
power users
                            those who are technically very knowledgeable (or think they are) or who believe they warrant special attention or
                            treatment because they have personal connections with significant people in an organization.
predecessor task
                            An activity in a project that must be completed before another project task can begin.
preparation phase
                            The first phase of a user needs analysis and assessment project, in which analysts try to understand the persona
                            organizational goals, decision criteria, and constraints; define the problem; identify the roles of stakeholders; and
                            sources of information.
prescreening
                            An incident management step that tries to identify and respond to simple requests for information without initiatin
                            official incident; essentially a filtering process.
progressive backup
                            A copy to an alternate media of only those files that need to be backed up; combines backup technology with a s
                            database that stores the status and location of the most recent version of each file.
project charter
                            A short narrative statement that describes the objectives, scope, methods, participants, deliverables, steps, timel
                            measures of success for a needs assessment project.
project definition
                            A project management step to define the scope of a project, including its goals, a calendar, a budget, the particip
                            and coordination.
project goal
                            A specific, measurable result that is the ultimate target or outcome of a project.
quick start behavior
                            A tendency among computer users to forego reading the installation manual and attempt to get new hardware or
                            installed and operational as rapidly as possible.
redundant system
                            An extra backup computer or peripheral that is identical to the hardware in daily use that can be installed and pre
                            service whenever the primary system fails.
remote diagnosis
                            The use of a computer system at a help desk site to connect to a customer's system, and then test various comp
                            the user's hardware, examine the user's software configuration, and replicate a problem scenario.
satisficing solution
                            An alternate solution that solves a problem in a reasonable way, but is not necessarily the optimal solution; satisf
                            solutions are often adopted when an optimal solution is too expensive.
service level agreement
(SLA)                     A written contract that defines the expectations between a computer facility and a service vendor for providing ha
                          (and sometimes operating system) support, preventive maintenance, and repairs; SLAs usually cover both parts
                          labor and guarantee response within a time period specified in the agreement.
service pack
                          A software revision that contains both updates and patches to fix documented problems with a version of a prog
site management
notebook                  A binder that consolidates important information about a computer system's hardware, operating system, networ
                          applications software configurations, and facilities management information in one location; contains information
                          to upgrade, maintain, restore, diagnose, or repair the system.
software problem report
(SPR)                     A system to capture problem report data associated with computer programs; may be manual or automated; also
                          bug report system.
source document
                          Any form used to collect information about a business transaction for input into an organization or computer syst
                          examples include payroll timecards, a problem log, a membership application, and an expense account record.
stakeholder
                          The participant in a user needs analysis and assessment project who might gain or lose from its success or failur
                          includes end users, managers, technical support, and the needs assessment analyst.
update
                          A bug-fix distribution that repairs known problems in a previous version or release of a software package.
uptime
                          A measure of the number of operational hours when a computer system is available for use.
user support center
                          A group or department in an organization that provides a wide range of services to an organization's computer us
                          are primarily internal: services may include a help desk, consulting on product purchases, training, documentatio
                          facilities management.
vaporware
                          Hardware or software products that appear in ads or press releases but that are not yet available for sale.
workaround
                          A procedure or feature that accomplishes the same result as a feature that does not work due to a bug or other
                          malfunction.

								
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