Tales from the Help Desk: From Personal Assistant to Private Eye

CIOs Reveal Their Strangest Help Desk Requests

TORONTO, July 29, 2015  "Are you running your computer under Windows?" "No, it's by the door!" This is not the punchline from a movie, but a real conversation with a help desk professional. Recently, Robert Half Technology took a look at the lighter side of technical travails by asking CIOs, "What is the strangest or most unusual request you or a member of your help desk or technical support team has ever received?" From social media struggles to cleaning conundrums, the responses show the diversity of requests to which help desk professionals must respond, using both technical talent and interpersonal prowess.

These first responses show that not all end users have the same base knowledge; some may need a "Tech 101" refresher course:

  • "Can I have the number to the 'worldwide Internet'?"
  • "Is it OK if I use correction fluid on my monitor?"
  • "My cup holder broke, and I need a replacement." (It turns out, the end user thought the CD Drive was a cup holder.)
  • "Every time I try to print, my computer says it cannot find the printer. I even put the printer right in front of the computer, and the computer still couldn't see it."

Help desk or private investigators – the lines were blurred, for these next end users:

  • "I want to spy on my kids by getting into their text messages and phone calls. Can you help?"
  • "Can you hack into my boyfriend's Facebook page?"
  • "Can you put a tracking device on my daughter's tablet?"

The Internet of Things (IoT) may cause some mystification in the workplace, as these next responses show: 

  • "Can you connect my phone to my hearing aid?"
  • "Can I turn on my slow cooker from another location by computer or tablet?"
  • "Can you connect my mobile devices to my kitchen appliances?"

Some requests extend beyond the help desk call of duty:

  • "I need to have the cat hair cleaned out of my computer fan."
  • "I am locked in the bathroom. Can you help get me out?"
  • "Will you build me a robot?"

And then there was this last story, which shows just how "hairy" a help desk job can be:

  • "The caller said he had a dead mouse. I dispatched a technician and was waiting to be told what type of mouse, but it turned out it was a real dead mouse."

View a slideshare of the survey findings.

"Individuals with the ability to appropriately handle even the most unusual of requests are essential to ensuring organizations and their employees remain efficient and successful," said Deborah Bottineau, senior regional manager of Robert Half Technology in Canada. "As organizations grow increasingly dependent on technology, having the support of help desk professionals who demonstrate the right balance of technical and interpersonal skills will have an overall positive impact on any business."

About the Survey
The survey was developed by Robert Half Technology and conducted by an independent research firm. The survey is based on more than 2,700 telephone interviews with CIOs in the Canada and the United States.

About Robert Half Technology
With more than 120 locations worldwide, Robert Half Technology is a leading provider of technology professionals for initiatives ranging from web development and multiplatform systems integration to network security and technical support. Robert Half Technology offers online job search services at roberthalftechnology.ca. Visit our technology blog at blog.rht.com, and follow @RobertHalf_CAN on Twitter for additional workplace news and hiring trends.

SOURCE Robert Half Technology

For further information: Naz Araghian, 416.865.2140, naz.araghian@roberthalf.com

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