by Carl James | BLOOMINGTON, IN | Jan. 1, 2021
At a work conference in 2018 I presented a breakout session on utilizing video to provide technical support. I wasn’t imagining a global pandemic at the time, but rather want to show common solutions to common problems quickly. On a global scale YouTube has been doing this for years. My talk was about identifying problems common to your support group, but perhaps not the computer world at large.
Video lets you show the user what to do. If you’ve worked phone support ever, you have surely come across an experience where the client is trying to describe a user interface and you just don’t understand what they are saying, and vice versa. Demonstrating via video is a great way to overcome part of that gap.
It is remarkably simple now to create a simple video. Thanks to COVID—19, Zoom’s videoconferencing platform is likely installed on your computer now. All you have to do is launch a meeting. You do not need other active attenders. Engage the platform’s recording feature. Even free accounts allow local recording. When done you can upload the video to a distribution platform such as YouTube as send your users a link via email.
Now if using a public platform such as YouTube, you must be cautious about your own privacy. The good news is technical support videos are usually not too juicy and are not likely to go viral. A simple step to take is set the privacy of your video to “unlisted”. While the video is still publicly accessible, they must have the link to see it. It will not show up in searches and won’t be listed in any YouTube playlists. I caution against making the video fully “private”. While this can work, if you are supporting a user with technical challenges, they may find even greater challenges with accessing the video than they do with the problem you are trying to solve in the first place.
Before you record the video, practice. Be sure to have your computer’s user interface set with big enough zoom to be visible clearly in the recording. Revert your desktop background to something work appropriate. Using a default of the operating system is often an easy way to do this. If you show your desktop, be aware of what is showing. First, don’t give away any private information. Second, be sure you are setting a good example of best computer practices for your clients. They will often emulate habits of the I.T. professionals they interact with. Third, close all browser tabs except for the ones you need for the recording. Also have your default browser page set to something appropriate, like a company web portal or just the basic Google search box.
Introduce yourself and briefly, but clearly, explain what you are doing and the context (in case someone happens upon this video for another purpose). Proceed slow enough so the user can follow along. If you have access to editing tools, cut out dead time like the 3-minutes it takes to download some file or run some installation, etc. Wrap up with a clear, positive message and make it clear the lesson has ended. Even if not on camera, sit and smile during the recording. It will tell in your voice. Use a headset with a boom microphone if you have one to ensure good audio quality.