A Different Type Of Geek

by : Dave Baughn

In the ever-changing world of computers and technology, one thing that hasn't changed is the need for a reliable, trustworthy and competent computer technician/geek/guru/I.T. person/go-to-guy or gal). You want your I.T. person to answer your questions, tell you what is going on, why your hard drive crashed, why you have so many viruses, why your computer crawls at the speed of mud down a slope after the California rains, and generally answer all of the use “how to use my pc" type of questions!  The more we use these things, the more I.T. questions we have.  Anyone can hang a shingle, throw up a website and print hip cards, claiming to be an I.T. expert. There are some highly competent I.T. folks out there, who possess the knowledge to fix your system. But the one ingredient that seems to be missing the most in the swirling world of high tech, is the ability to be a computer geek and a people person who can actually communicate with people. 

One of the things I hear most, when speaking with new clients, is how they were AFRAID (can you believe it?) to call any computer support company for help. When asked why they were afraid, 9 times out of 10, clients say their last experience was so horrible that they are afraid to ask for help. I have heard all the horror stories. The person they took their computer to made them feel completely stupid, spoke in “Tech Talk" that would make Bill Gates squirm.  It is as if the customer was expected to know what the GeekFreak is talking about, follow along, understand and never, ever repeat whatever horrid thing they “did."  The poor, mortal customer, who really thought they were pretty good at using their PC, is now completely lost and intimidated, and leaves feeling frustrated with the whole experience. Two weeks later they get their system back, never having understood what was wrong or how to prevent it from happening again. However, they are very clear that they do not want to go through THAT trial again, lest the GeekFreak really let them know how lacking in I.T. intelligence they are. It is sad. Unprofessional.

Does this sound familiar to you?  Have you been there? Once slammed, what happens, the next time you have a computer related problem?  Do you just muddle through like most folks, until it gets so bad that you have only 2 options: (1) Find another company to fix the problem or (2) throw away the “perfectly good" computer and buy another one.  Option two (2) seems pretty extreme, but I have known it to happen. On behalf of the I.T. industry, I apologize for all the less than kind geeks out there.  There is a better way!

The computer industry is slowly recognizing the fact that the self-righteous snobby Geeks of yesterday, need to improve on their communication skills, both in the corporate world and with home PC users. The New I.T. Guru has to relate to the people they are trying to help, slow down their explanations,  realizing that not everyone has their particular curve of esoteric I.T. knowledge and make a greater effort to understand the client and solve the problem clearly. It is not that difficult to explain things to non-technical people, if you check your ego at the door! I.T. businesses that provide support are recognizing this fact and are looking for techs who combine excellent technical skill with great people skills.  Savvy I.T. companies realize that they need to revamp the I.T. department, tone the GeekFreak into NormalSpeak, or they will lose out.  People are weary of the techno-snobs and are beginning to realize that they don’t have to put up with that. Next time you are faced with a computer problem that demands help, demand a different kind of geek and just say “Teach me how to use my PC" and then expect it!  You deserve it. Technology is there to serve you and make your life easier, so let it!

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