The 8 Rules

A few years ago, I developed two sets of rules to help elevate the quality of our field consultants at the time… one set for being an excellent tech and the other set for providing excellent customer service, both critical skills for an IT Consultant and a prerequisite for being a rock star in IT.

Some of the rules seem simple, and probably second nature to most people reading them. However, if you look at them from the perspective for someone relatively new to IT, they’re invaluable lessons to learn early on.

They turned in to kind of a thing at every place I have worked since then, and I’m now actively writing a book focused on them.

So here they are : )

The 8 Rules for Outstanding Troubleshooting Skills

  1. I always check the Event Viewer or other log files first when troubleshooting.
  2. I do not start troubleshooting until all software/hardware is patched up to the latest approved release.
  3. I do not make modifications unless I have a verified backup, have logged the change and I am reasonably certain what the end result will be.
  4. My job is to provide a solution.  A “workaround” means that something is still broke, and I didn’t do my job.
  5. An end user only reports their perception of the situation; It is my job to verify the reality of the situation before attempting to find the solution.
  6. I never assume anything; I always verify everything with my own eyes.
  7. Asking for help from a co-worker implies I have confidence in their ability to assist, it does not imply failure on my part.
  8. I am never afraid to call a vendor or support line for 3rd party products.  It’s their product and they will be more familiar with it than I will be leading to a faster resolution.

The 8 Rules for Outstanding Customer Service Skills

  1. I return a phone call with a phone call, but follow up with an email.
  2. I respond to an email with an email, but if an extended explanation is necessary I call as well.
  3. I inform the customer, in person, when I show up on site and verify their needs.  Before I leave I recount what I have done for them.  If I’m remote, I call/email to let them know I am starting to work on it and call/email to let them know I am finished.
  4. I always follow up on questions, verbal or written, within 24 hours.
  5. I update the customer at regular intervals as I troubleshoot a problem for them, regardless if it is remote or onsite.
  6. “I don’t know” is not an appropriate answer, “I will find out” is.
  7. I smile when I talk to a customer (in person or on the phone).
  8. I am always accurate and articulate when logging my time.

3 Responses to “The 8 Rules”

  1. If I broke something else trying to fix the first error, the customer does not have to pay for that time too.


  1. Stalking the wily ADAccess event 2112 | Paul's Down-Home Page - July 10, 2012

    […] I couldn’t puzzle it out in the time I had allotted, so I decided to take a backup (see rule #3) and  wait to tackle the patching until I could be physically present. That turned out to be a […]

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