This week marks the beginning of school for freshmen all around the country and it also signals the graying of hairs for helpdesk operators on campuses all over. So, while sitting here on the phones helping frantic parents and ditsy students, I was pondering what it takes to do this job... and well.
First, I think Patience is probably the most important. Students or corporate users are already stressed out that their computers aren't working properly and losing your patience with them will only result in badness. Today, already, I've had four different parents basically yell at me that their computers bought from "YOU" (also known as the University's Computer store) and basically said it was my fault that it wasn't working correct. After getting the user to actually plug the correct cord into the correct port, they felt really stupid. This brings me to the next item.
Allow the users to Save Face. Just because running a bash script to disable and enable the Network Interface Card (NIC) is like peeling a banana for you, definitely doesn't mean it is for them. In fact, if it were that easy for them, then they wouldn't be talking to you in the first place. By letting the client "win" they will feel better about technology and might actually learn how to fix the problem in the future. This is a good thing since they'll be happy and might not need to call you back next time.
Without a doubt Technical Knowledge, is pivotal to running a successful help desk operation. This is the bread and butter of all Information Technology Support, the skills and tools of the trade. You use this knowledge to determine the users problems and find possible solutions to their problems. Also, when working with difficult users, your knowledge is your leverage in controlling the consulting experience.
Squishy Toys are to de-stress after those users that really drive you nuts. Kongs for large dogs, beanie babies, or any other squeezable and slightly humanoid item can help you feel better when you're rather stressed out.
If you've got these tools you may very well be a good candidate for helpdesk operations. However, if you don't really like dealing with people, can't communicate with "mortals" or otherwise have a bad attitude towards others, stop here and do not pass GO.