We had a drop in at our Hillsborough computer store the other day. Not to drop of a computer for us to repair or data for us to recover but to ask us about what skills are required to become a computer repair technician. It always excites me when I see the next generation of our industry so I spent some time with the guy.
Aside from the usual technical skills and curiosity about how things work and are put together, there are some soft skills every computer repair technician needs to be successful. They are harder to quantify but as just as, even not more necessary than the ability to strip down a laptop and troubleshoot Windows issues.
It isn’t enough to be good with computers, you have to be good with people too. Here are what I regard as core skills necessary to become a great computer repair technician.
Patience is a virtue
Our industry does demand a lot of patience. Any customer facing industry needs its fair share of it. Computers even more so because not only do customers occasionally try our patience, computers and operating systems regularly do it!
Scouring through the Windows registry looking for an error is something we rarely do but is something that demands patience by the bucket load. The same for customers who (rightly) think their computer problem is the most serious in the world and demands your immediate and undying attention.
Flexibility is key
Much of a computer repair technician’s job is either ticket based or reactive. The first is quite regimented, a certain computer needs looking at in a certain way and the troubleshooting steps need to be performed in a certain way to achieve the desired result. Quite a static and predictable way to work.
On the other hand, we have emergencies, drop ins and clients we offer remote computer support to. They often require immediate attention as time may be a factor or the issue serious enough to stop them working or doing what they need to do. We need to be flexible enough to drop something we may have been in the middle of, pick up the new issue, fix that and then go back to our initial repair.
Communication is essential
Being able to communicate is something everyone in every industry needs, but anyone who deals with customers needs it more. Not only do you often have to tell customers that they need to buy a component or that their beloved MacBook Pro is dead, sometimes you have to tell them that their issue cannot be fixed by a given time or that we couldn’t recover their data.
There is another element to technical professions, that of being able to make complicated issues understandable to people without our background. This is a specific challenge and one any computer repair technician needs to get to grips with.
A customer doesn’t care what voltage their RAM needs or what DRAM timings were set on their motherboard. They just care whether we can or have fixed it and how much it will cost. Other customers will want to know exactly what went wrong but won’t have the technical background to necessarily understand. That’s when being a good communicator really comes into its own!
No is not a swearword
I don’t like saying no to customers but there are times when you will need to. Some things are just not possible. Other things really shouldn’t be. With the best will in the world, there are those who will always try their luck. ‘Oh while you have the case open, could you just check x or tweak y a little?’. Usually, if it’s a mere couple of seconds work, I say yes. If it requires more work or the customer is obviously trying to take advantage, no is a safe word.
As long as you say no politely and professionally, no should be a word in every computer repair technician’s handbook. Just pick and choose when you use it!
Go the extra mile
Helping a customer out with something that takes only a couple of minutes is a great way to gain a reputation as genuinely helpful. It is also a way to get them on side, build a rapport and get repeat business. I like to make sure we all add value where we can within reason and going that extra mile when practical is a good way to do it.
No place for ego
Being a computer repair technician means working in a competitive environment where you are measured by clients, colleagues and me. That breeds a competitive spirit but one that needs to be tempered so ego doesn’t dominate. Ego is useful in driving you to excel but has no place in business decisions or when dealing with customers.
Sometimes the customer is right even when they are wrong. Sometimes I am right even when I’m wrong. Sometimes you will be asked to perform tasks you don’t want to perform or stay late to fix an urgent issue. Ego has no place in your decision making if you want to become a computer repair technician.
Attitude is more important than technical skills
Continuing on that theme, I regard a good attitude as much more important as the ability to write code or build databases. Skills can all be learned but being agreeable, professional, hardworking, great with customers and nice to be around goes a whole lot further.
I would rather have a team of lower skilled people with good attitudes than highly skilled engineers with various forms of social issues. Fortunately, I have a great team with a great attitude, with skills to match. If you want to become a computer repair technician, you need to foster positive people skills and a good attitude long before you learn how to strip down a water cooled PC!
I consider being a computer repair technician as a fantastic career. I have enjoyed my time in the industry so far and plan to carry on enjoying it for many years to come. If you would like to experience a local computer repair service with a difference, visit Dave’s Computers in Hillsborough New Jersey!