CompTIA Aplus Exam objective 5.4 communication and professionalism

CompTIA A+ Exam 220-902 sub-objective 5.4 – Demonstrate proper communication techniques and professionalism

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Detailed (and official) description of CompTIA A+ sub-objective 5.4

5.4 Demonstrate proper communication techniques and professionalism.
Use proper language – avoid jargon, acronyms, slang when applicable
Maintain a positive attitude / Project confidence
Actively listen (taking notes) and avoid interrupting the customer
Be culturally sensitive
Use appropriate professional titles, when applicable

Be on time (if late contact the customer)
Avoid distractions
Personal calls
Texting / Social media sites
Talking to co-workers while interacting with customers

Personal interruptions
Dealing with difficult customer or situation
Do not argue with customers and/or be defensive
Avoid dismissing customer problems
Avoid being judgmental
Clarify customer statements (ask open-ended questions to narrow the scope of the problem,    restate the issue or question to verify understanding)
Do not disclose experiences via social media outlets

Set and meet expectations timeline and communicate status with the customer
Offer different repair replacement options if applicable
Provide proper documentation on the services provided
Follow up with customer user at later date to verify satisfaction

Deal appropriately with customers’ confidential and private materials located on a computer, desktop, printer, etc

Welcome to ExamNotes by Certblaster! This section will examine 220-902 Objective 5.4 Demonstrate proper communication techniques and professionalism. The foundation of your relationship with the user or customer rests on your professional appearance, the manner in which you present yourself and the degree you are able to educate the user while making repairs. Engage them in the process wherever possible. If the user comprehends the nature of the problem, they may be able to avoid it in the future. At the very least they will be able to provide actionable details when calling the help desk.

Use proper language – avoid jargon, acronyms, slang when applicable

Always use the correct terminology when discussing the customers’ issue. Using acronyms and slang will, more often than not, generate confusion in the conversation. This terminology may make you feel that you are impressing the customer with your mastery when in reality you may simply be confusing them. Mak every effort to be understandable to the user.

Maintain a positive attitude / Project confidence

Your demeanor sets the customers’ first impression as to the quality of service they are receiving. You want to appear confident but not cocky. Be calm and assured. Never say “Uh-Oh”. Regardless of the circumstances maintaining a positive attitude will enable the customer to respect your skills and lead to a generally agreeable encounter.

Actively listen (taking notes) and avoid interrupting the customer

During the initial phase of a service call, you will have the help desk notes and a problem description. Don’t use this information immediately. Have the customer describe the condition in their own words. Their remarks may uncover details that are not in your trouble ticket. This adds a comfort level for the user by enabling them to explain issues in their own terms and validate your understanding. Take good notes and never cut a user off when they are talking. If the problem can be reproduced have them show you the process.

Be culturally sensitive

Remember that during a professional encounter you represent your entire company from the help desk down to your personal encounter. With this in mind confine any non-technical discussions to those initiated by the customer. This will help you stay in safe conversational zones. Topics that interest them and are generally of the “How about this weather?” nature. Avoid topics involving religion, race, gender, and politics. If you sense a conversation going south steer it back to matters at hand. People are less likely to be confrontational with you personally but will quite easily report anything negative to your superiors in a follow-up call. Protect yourself and your company against any negativity.

Use appropriate professional titles, when applicable

Professionalism can be gauged by how you treat the customer in general conversation. Always address them using the best professional title that applies, even if it is simply Mr. or Mrs. /Ms. This practice signifies your respect for them as a person. Then identify yourself accurately and state the nature of your visit. It is good to ask if this is a convenient time for them and give a fair estimation of the amount of time you’ll need.

Be on time (if late contact the customer)

The objective states to contact the customer if you are going to be late. This is undoubtedly good form, a customer will begin to formulate a positive opinion of you and the visit if you call ahead when on time and give them your accurate location and ETA. An additional consideration would be to ask if the time still works within the customer’s schedule. A little respect goes a long way.

Avoid distractions

When you are working on a customer’s equipment it is imperative to give the matter your undivided attention.If a customer feels that you are distracted it will directly impact their faith in you and the company. That is unacceptable. Unless your employer requires personal devices be on at all times turn them off. If they must remain on silence the ringer. There should be no external interference.

Personal calls

There is no good reason to make or take a personal call during a customer encounter. Period.

Texting / Social media sites

Your company policy will adequately cover Texting and Social Media sites suffice to say that this activity will not be permitted during customer interactions without exception.

Talking to co-workers while interacting with customers.

You should not initiate any conversations with coworkers during a trouble call. The only exception would be a case where you need advice, and here, keep the conversation brief.

Personal interruptions

While you are working on a customer’s device you need to realize that your presence is keeping them from their duties. You may not be able to control a coworker initiating a conversation, but you can cut it short, make it clear that you are busy and schedule the talk for a better time.

Dealing with a difficult customer or situation

Consider that you don’t know what you don’t know. The statement sounds simplistic yet still profound. The work order states only that the customer’s email is not working and that the ticket is flagged as Urgent! Given that a computer never fails a good time, compound that fact with the customers’ situation. Do they have a tight deadline? What are the repercussions of not meeting their deadline? Could this problem cost the company a sale or even a prospective customer? There could be a bonus, raise or even promotion depending on a completed task. You just don’t know and a cavalier attitude could potentially send the customer over the edge. Now think back on the rules of engagement. This new information goes a long way in defining an agitated customer. Having acted properly helped avoid any escalation. Your actions have also helped the customer determine that the right person was sent to fix the issue. If the customer is venting let them finish and above all do not argue any aspect of their issue. They could easily be the cause of the problem but it wold be inadvisable to mention things of that nature at this point in time.

Photo of Upset customer
Upset customer – You never want to get a user to this place…

Do not argue with customers and/or be defensive

An irate customer will likely blame anyone in the chain even remotely involved, even you personally. Whatever you do, do not argue. Let them go on. They will also attack programs and devices that have no part in their issue, do not defend anything.  Apologize and offer help. Assure them that you will resolve the problem as quickly as possible.

Avoid dismissing customer problems

Another area of conflict with a customer arises from the technician dismissing or minimalizing the customer’s input. Customers know how to do their job using their tools. It makes sense to hear them out regarding any theory that could cause a problem. Avoid dismissing their theories without investigating them. Recognize that the customer represents the only witness to the matter at hand and use them fully as a resource.

Avoid being judgmental

It is easy for some in the IT community to feel that they know more than a user on a particular matter.

This is not always true. The technician may have an advanced skill set in programming and operational matters, but it is the end user that will have an intimate day to day knowledge of the cause and effect behavior of frequently used applications. Pay attention.

Clarify customer statements (ask open-ended questions to narrow the scope of the problem, restate the issue or question to verify understanding)

Your interaction with the customer can be the difference between quick success and lots of wasted time. In conversation always use questions that require more than a one-word response. Questions like “When did you first notice the problem?” will yield more information if you add “ and what else were you doing at the time?”.  You may find that they were listening to a Webinar and taking notes when the incident occurred. Now you have the browser, antispyware, browser plug-ins and toolbars to consider that would not otherwise have been suspected.

Do not disclose experiences via social media outlets

Social media is highly addictive to some people. They often share details about their lives interactions and experiences without regard for the potential viewers. Social media is banned or restricted in the workplace because it represents a security vulnerability. Think of a hacker who is a bogus friend of a friend being able to determine the schedule and whereabouts of the IT staff from a simple retirement party invitation. They will know all of the attendees where they will be (GPS) for how long. This would be a perfect time to launch an attack. Don’t use social media for work-related matters however innocent they may appear.

Set and meet expectations timeline and communicate status with the customer

A customer should be kept informed as to the time they can expect you and any details involving the schedule. The best call they could expect is “I’ve finished my last call, I know it’s early but would you like me to come now?”

Offer different repair replacement options if applicable

When faced with a situation that requires a part replacement consider solutions that will get the user running while you wait for the part. Let’s say you have a damaged USB 3.0 port. You can suggest that the device can operate on an unused USB 2.0 port. It will be slower but it will work. This is a workable short term solution.

Provide proper documentation on the services provided

All service related calls must be documented. As a technician, you should be sure that the work request is complete, containing Username location date and time of call and problem description. When you arrive at the location note the arrival time and the state of the unit to be fixed. Do your fact-finding interview. Take clear concise notes. Note any actions taken, parts needed and the condition of the machine on departure. Include recommendations for further action if necessary, the date and time.

Follow up with customer user at later date to verify satisfaction

A good technician will follow up with the customer later the following day to ensure customer satisfaction and to be sure the repair was complete and satisfactory. This shows the customer that you are concerned about their matter.

Deal appropriately with customers confidential and private materials Located on a computer, desktop, printer, etc

When you enter a customer’s workspace you will undoubtedly come across items of a personal nature along with potentially sensitive work data. It is important that you confine your attention to only those matters that concern youThere may be information on their screen. You should suggest that they save and close their applications. Any materials on their printer should be secured by the user. Make every effort to avoid exposure to confidential and personal information.

Well, that covers it for 220-902 objective 5.4. Only one to go! Keep on plugging away, you’re almost there! Good luck on the test.

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