When the End User Saves the Day

The work day is almost over when you’re interrupted with an emergency.  A certain time sensitive financial function of one of your information systems isn’t working.  As luck would have it, the error is something you’ve never seen.  And the business is counting on you to fix it quickly, or this could be a very expensive problem.  I found myself in that exact scenario a couple of days ago.  But in this case, it was the end user who really saved the day.  Keep reading.

She approached my desk calmly but mentioned this was an emergency.  She didn’t mean it was an emergency for her.  It was an emergency for the business.  I went to see the error message on her computer and snapped a photo of it for safe keeping.  I had never seen it.  We looked together through some administrative monitoring tools that confirmed the error (a process lock for her user account).  Since the error was unique to her, I tried kicking her out of the system and killing the session, but that was unfruitful.  She mentioned someone had helped her with this problem a while back but that none of the screens I brought up to troubleshoot the situation looked like what she had seen when it was fixed on the previous occasion.

At this point I realized our support vendor for this system was 30 minutes from closing for the day.  Up to this point I had never needed to call them for support and had only created support tickets online.  As luck would have it, there was no support number to be found on the site.  I called a user in a different department who has frequent interaction with support, and he had no main support number.  He had the number for a technician who had helped with a recent but unrelated issue and suggested I try it.  My call went straight to voicemail.  This is the point where I got that sinking feeling in my stomach and started to panic inside.

I was logged into the support portal and about to put in a ticket marked as work stoppage (praying the vendor would call me back before they closed) when the user with the error came back by my desk.  She saw I was logged into the support portal and noticed something I hadn’t.  “What if you try searching the knowledge base?”  It certainly made sense to try.  I searched based on the error, and we found a KB with a solution.  In 2 minutes, the steps had been completed, and we were ready to test.  When she logged in again, the process lock had been removed, and she was able to continue working.

Even though it seems obvious now, in the moment I just didn’t think to search the knowledge base.  I was receptive to her suggestion because she remained calm and was trying to provide me with everything she knew which might lead to a solution.  This problem took both of us working together to solve.

So for those still reading, always remember you don’t know everything.  And sometimes you may not be able to stay calm in a high pressure situation.  If we will listen to what our end users are telling us, we can leverage their knowledge of the situation and partner with them to solve problems.  Get out of the us vs. them mentality and appreciate end users.  And in cases like this, they save the day.   So to the user who bailed me out of trouble the other day, I thank you.

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