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How to Use User Error to Your Advantage

It’s relatively easy to write off a user error. The name itself implies that the cause of the issue is the person behind the keyboard, not the system as a whole. But that has the expectation that technical knowledge and intelligence are the same thing. In a post at his blog, Joe the IT Guy explains how user errors can be a constructive tool.

Updating Your Approach to Error

User errors might seem like something that can be easily brushed aside, but they oftentimes relay a deeper problem. Writing it off as an “ID10T” error doesn’t take any steps to figuring out why the error occurred. It is more than likely a symptom regarding user knowledge; the amount of assumed prior knowledge may have been incorrect, or the knowledge being passed along wasn’t relayed effectively. Another issue might be that the systems in place aren’t sufficiently intuitive enough to be used without training, or the preexisting training needs to be made easier to understand. Additionally, there might be misleading language that further confuses the reader through jargon, unclear wording, or word misuse.

Now that the problems on the other end have been identified, there can be steps taken to remedy these issues. Service design may need to be revised because its original design didn’t take notice of the user’s knowledge, skills, etc. The user base may have also changed significantly since the design specification, so it may need to be redesigned for the new users. And of course, if the users aren’t being properly trained or supervised, increase the supervisions and training accordingly.

Joe says there some major takeaways about user errors:

  • Designating something a user error doesn’t move the blame away from the service provider. Quite the opposite, it highlights lack of a service provider’s design, planning, communication, or understanding
  • Documenting and investigating instances of a user error is important. Breaking these down to a finer level of detail is a vital first step. Often this needs to be captured at the time the incident is recorded or addressed, so service desk and 2nd line support staff need to be aware and able to capture it correctly.
  • Users should be encouraged and supported in registering when they do not understand what to do. It isn’t their fault and we (the service provider) shouldn’t make them think it is. That’s just guilt transfer.

You can view the original post here: http://www.joetheitguy.com/2017/10/11/how-a-user-error-can-be-a-constructive-tool/

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