Geek Squad vs. Genius Bar vs. IT Help Desks

by

This has not been the best of weekends. I woke up Saturday morning on a mission to complete a slew of client deliverables, internal work, community committee projects and “home administration”. I planned a packed calendar to get it all done, but did not factor in contingency for technology issues. I won’t go into the gory details, but I spent the weekend tethered to a wall due to broken wireless, counting the seconds and minutes go by as my new Comcast internet connection crawled, rebooting my computer multiple times due to freezes and continually clicking away sync error messages in my Mail program. This morning I spent two hours researching and I hope fixing the sync errors, later to find that the suggested Apple solution had apparently fixed the problem but had lost a few critical emails sent yesterday in the process and refilled my inbox with the 100 messages I thought I had processed in the wee hours of the morning.

By Sunday night I’d had it with my Mac’s unusually poor behavior and decided to refocus my attention on my probably unresurrectable PC. One of my “home administration” projects was trying to recover it from its blue screen disease one last time to get my Quicken financial file off of it so that I could find another way to catch up on my personal bills and company expenses. I was out of ideas and so I headed out to Best Buy to find the Geek Squad.

Geek Squad guy was very happy to see me and very eager to help me, to the extreme that I wondered if someone this happy was going to be smart enough to fix my problem. When he took my computer, but gave me back the power cord, I told him he’d need it to turn on the computer. He said with a sly grin, “Oh, don’t worry, I’m not even going to turn it on!” Quite pleased with himself, he marched off like a super hero to pass it off to someone in the backroom and came back out to consult with me. “How much is this file worth to you?” I pondered why I felt so desperate to have 13 years of financial history and decided it was worth a few hundred dollars. He talked me through the various potential prognoses and how much they would cost, mostly to prepare me for the fact that it might be out of my stated budget. But then he dug deeper: he actually wanted to really solve my problem, the problem that has me keeping a 7 year old PC on life support because Intuit can’t build a version of Quicken that will support my needs on the Mac. He wanted to talk about dual booting my Mac, Parallels vs. Fusion, etc. etc. Once we’d covered that, he offered to help me pick a wireless router. No, he didn’t fix my computer (yet), but he did walk me out to the car and give me a card of the other Geek Squad location where he works where they may have the technology to do it.

And I felt better, he actually cheered me up, which is amazing because he didn’t solve my problem! He was clearly so happy to be doing his job. I could just tell he really enjoyed working with customers, loved solving problems, truly wanted to understand what the real issue was so that he could come to an even more creative solution than just respond to my request.

I was so much more impressed with him than the people I’ve worked with at the Genius Bar at the Apple Store. I like the Apple store, the people know their stuff and they generally get the job done. But they’ve got a little too much attitude and too little flexibility on when they are willing to help you.

And then I started thinking about the reputation of many IT support departments. Of course there are exceptions, but they often have the reputation of being both difficult and clueless. I don’t know what kind of recruiting or training the Geek Squad does, but I think the internal help desk might be able to pick up a few tips from them. Imagine if the IT support people could go around and actually brighten someone’s day, on a day likely to be not going so well, instead of making it all worse. Mr. Geek Squad had the perfect combination of knowledge, creativity and happiness about his job to do just that.

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