CIS 106a: Introduction to Operating System Concepts

Chapter 12: The Professional PC Technician



This chapter is about technical job roles. The objectives important to this chapter are:

  1. Roles and responsibilities of computer support jobs
  2. Interacting with customers
  3. Software copyright laws

The chapter begins with a description of four different jobs that a technician might have. Each type of job will use different tools and techniques:

  • support technician - this job is stationed at the same work site as the users who you try to help
  • service technician - this job entails travel to different sites, to handle problems as they arise
  • bench technician - this job is located in a lab setting, and provides help to users indirectly; this role is also known as a depot technician
  • help-desk technician - this job requires telephone contact with users at various locations

It is important to have a good background in technology to work in any of these roles. Certification programs were created to standardize the knowledge required by these jobs and others.

  • Passing the A+ Essentials exam validates entry-level skills
  • A+ 220-602: grants you the IT Technician designation
  • A+ 220-603: Remote Support Technician designation
  • A+ 220-604: grants you Depot Technician designation
  • Other certification programs are more vendor specific
    • Microsoft
    • Cisco

The text describes some soft skills that will make a technician more effective in dealing with customers.

  • Have a positive and helpful attitude
  • Own the problem - this means to stay with a problem until it is resolved, or until you have handed it over to someone more qualified to resolve it
  • Be customer-focused
  • Maintain integrity and honesty
  • Perform your work in a professional manner

Providing good service requires more than a good attitude. Having the skills enables you to do the job, and having a plan, a method of providing the service makes it a routine. You are less likely to skip a step with difficult or unpleasant customers if you follow a plan like this:

  • Follow company policies for answering an initial call
  • Check the simple things first; e.g., cable connections
  • Review company service policies
  • Start the troubleshooting session
  • Search for answers using all available resources
  • Ask for help (if necessary)
  • If the problem is solved, ensure that customer agrees
  • Create a written record of the problem and the solution

If you are a technician who makes visits to a customer site, use good sense and manners:

  • Review information given you by whoever took the initial call
  • Know the problem you are going to address
  • Be aware of the system that needs servicing
  • Arrive with all equipment appropriate to the task
  • Be on time for the appointment
  • Practice interactive listening and always be courteous
  • Interview the user for a background on the problem
  • Ask for permission before touching any equipment
  • Keep the customer informed as you work
  • Explain the problem and what you must do to fix it
  • Give the customer a set of cost-effective options
  • Allow the customer to verify your work
  • Ask user to ensure that backed up data is fully restored
  • Review the service call with the customer
  • Explain preventive maintenance to the customer

The text makes slightly different recommendations for technicians working as call center support staff:

  • Identify yourself and your organization
  • Ask for and record contact information for customer
  • Assess whether you should handle the call
  • Allow the caller to describe the problem
  • Use good phone manners
  • Use a good amount of patience
  • Visualize yourself in front of userís PC

The text continues with advice for dealing with several difficult types of customers:

  • When the customer is not knowledgeable (new user)
    • Don’t use computer jargon while talking
    • Follow along at your own PC
    • Give the customer opportunities to ask questions
  • When the customer is overly confident (knows it all)
    • Show respect for the customer’s knowledge
    • Slow the conversation down
    • Avoid accusing the customer of making a mistake
    • Use technical language appropriate for customer
  • When the customer complains
    • Be an active listener - make sure you understand
    • Give the customer a little time to vent
    • Don’t be defensive
    • Ask for guidance in improving communication
  • When the customer doesn’t want to end a phone call
    • Ease the caller into the end of the call
    • Ask if anything needs more explanation
    • Briefly summarize the main points of the call
    • Don't bring up new issues

If you can't solve the problem, know the process in your organization to ask for help or escalate the call to the next level of support.

The text presents some terms about software rights and copyrights.

  • License - right to use software (gained in purchase or lease)
  • Copyright - right to copy software; typically reserved by the publisher
  • Site license - right to use multiple copies of software under one license
  • Software piracy (copyright infringement) - distributing unauthorized copies of software
  • Hard-disk loading - installing pirated software on hard drives
  • Your legal responsibility is to protect the software copyright for any software you install as a technician or user

The Federal Copyright Act of 1976 requires that copies of software used be legal. It allows for one backup copy of software to be made from each licensed copy that you own.

Criminal penalties for software piracy include imprisonment for up to five years and/or fines. This penalty applies to illegal copying/distribution of 10 or more units


  • Use only software purchased or licensed for your use
  • Print and file end-user licensing agreement (EULA)
  • Comply with all terms of license (includes site license)