Stories from my Past: Laptops are a luxury

I worked at one company where many of the executives had laptops. As an IT person in almost every company, you also get a laptop. I think the idea is that with a laptop you can work from home if necessary and fix any problem that happens. So it surprised me when I started and I received a desktop.

I asked my manager why I received a desktop instead of a laptop. Didn’t they want me to fix things from home? His answer surprised me. He said “Well executives have laptops, and laptops are a luxury not a necessity.”

Stories from my Past: Laptops are a luxuryThat answer didn’t make sense to me than and it still doesn’t. If the network is down, or someone needs help, not having your IT staff have a computer at home doesn’t help anyone. Even the cheapest laptop will do the job.

Why am I bringing this up now? I find it interesting that the perception of laptops has changed over the years. Laptops used to be just for the VIPS in a company and then slowly they started filtering down to the common man. Now most companies prefer giving someone a laptop so that they will work when they aren’t in the office. I have seen this first hand. With a laptop people don’t have an excuse not to work from home, so it becomes easily justifiable. Plus with the ridiculous low-cost of laptops, the argument can be made that they are better than desktops anyway.

Yes, yes, desktops are cheaper than laptops. The price isn’t really worth it however. When you have a laptop you have freedom to make sales, travel and to have a life. I predict that desktops will go away. As components get cheaper and easier, there just won’t be any compelling reason to have a stationary computer. For example, laptops now are coming standard without any fans and with really long battery life. For most people laptops are not a compromise of a desktop anymore. They can do everything a desktop can and more. So why would you want to be tied to a desk to use one?

I think this is also going to happen because of millennials. They care about experiences and quality of life, and demand things like standing desks and so on. I think that laptops will be driven by them, and only older people will not care and their conception of a computer means being tied to a desk. I think the change to laptops is as much psychological as technological.

Most people who have freedom with a laptop never want to be tied to a desktop again. Now this isn’t an economic choice, but a personal one.

How to get results without being a jerk

How to get results without being a jerk. In life, we all have challenges in getting our needs met. Since my job is fixing problems, I get to experience the support side of most organizations, and it has been quite an eye opener. I thought I should share my experiences with you so your life is easier.

How to get results without being a jerk

  1. Begin with the end in mind. Every interaction you should have what you want clearly in mind. If you talk to a support person without a plan, you have already failed. The end should be the continuation of the service or product you paid for, or the cessation of some annoying thing that just started. For example, companies who put you on their mailing list you didn’t opt-in for.
  2. Treat the person with respect. Yes that person represents the company, but affirm their humanity and treat them as you want to be treated. Sometimes when I feel the frustration of the process I’ve encountered, I stop and say to the person I’m talking to “It is not you, it’s just the situation I find frustrating.” They usually empathize with me and agree that they would be frustrated too. It is easy to go on a rant when you have to go over and over the same information with different representatives.
  3. Ask if what you are asking for sounds reasonable. You are not asking them to agree with you, but just be in the ballpark of what you want. For example, I had a company who said I was late paying a bill and I was not. I never received the bill, and they had the wrong address on file for me. Even though I had given the company my current address when I bought that product, their systems had messed up and tried to blame me. When I explained this to the representative and pointed out my payment history and credit score that qualified me for this product, she fixed the issue. You don’t have to threaten to get what you want. Asking and kindness works far better than empty threats.
  4. Even if you are going to sue, give them a chance to fix the problem. Ok so maybe the issue was big and really caused you a problem. Even if you plan to sue them, give them a chance to fix the problem once more. Most companies are not bad on purpose, but by ignorance. Most companies I have seen have a difficult time giving a good customer experience. I have called plenty of out-sourced call centers, where I could barely understand what was being said and the steps were things I have already done, but I went through the process anyway. You have to be patient to go through the process. Then when the process fails, suggest what will fix it.
  5. Share all the information on how you tried to fix the problem yourself. It is the most common experience for customer service people to have to explain basic concepts for people who are ignorant of the product or service. By doing all the troubleshooting you can up front, you save both them and yourself time in not having to go through all the time-consuming steps usually communicated by someone less knowledgeable than yourself. For example, I had a piece of equipment fail and so I did all the troubleshooting steps I could think of and then called the support number. Once I had the rep on the line I explained everything I did and asked what more I could have done. He said that I had done everything that could be done, and send me a new part immediately. Otherwise it would have been an awkward multi-hour call while all those troubleshooting steps would be done.

The key here is in making yourself an ally or supporting the tech support person you are talking to. People who know and do this are really appreciated by those overworked and underpaid people. They know that it is a real issue and it also helps them mark cases as solved on the first call. Being good at your job is not just being able to do it, but also finding ways to be more efficient at it.