Advice from an Apple Tech: The Great Upgrade Freakout (and how to deal with it)

Chris Barylick
25 August, 2014
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Mac, updates, os x, macworld australiaThere’s no stopping change.

And there’s no stopping the reaction of a tech client who might be less than enthralled with whatever necessary changes you had to incorporate to save their data, upgrade their Mac and/or get their Mac working again. Yes, their computer is back, but something is either slightly or radically different and this is sticking in their craw. A user interface has changed in the new version of Microsoft Office, they liked the old version of iTunes better, or they didn’t expect those new icons in that new version of Mac OS X that you had to install to make a print driver or application work.

As much as this may add to your workload (it’s generally implied that you’ll spend some time off the clock explaining the new changes they’re seeing), their frustrations are not unfounded. They had something that behaved a certain way, they’d become accustomed to it, and now change has been thrust upon them without their input. Add in the fact that hardware, software and your time as a tech aren’t cheap and potential frustrations with the upgrade can become that much worse.

Perhaps the first thing for any tech to understand is that while you’re obligated to help explain the changes caused by an upgrade and how they might be necessary, this is not an invitation for indentured servitude, complete with the client calling, emailing or demanding the tech come over pro bono and explain the changes created by the upgrade yet again. That being said, there will be nightmare clients who ask for more than can be reasonably given. This is why referrals were invented, even if they’re just a more polite way of telling them to take a long walk off a short pier and voice their grievances to the local sea life.

What can be done, and the best way to find a balance, is to take the following steps throughout the process.

  • Explain the need for the upgrade and why it’s necessary.
  • Walk them through the upgrade as you’re implementing it.
  • If there are different steps that need to be taken by the user once the upgrade is complete, write them down, go over the steps with them again and print out copies of the documentation for both yourself and your client.
  • YouTube is your friend and its instructional videos are not to be denied. If your client is worried about how to learn to use a new application, piece of hardware or version of an operating system, odds are you can point them towards an instructional YouTube video, bookmark the video for easy access later and perhaps save the link to the desktop as well. The person in the video teaching the viewer how to perform a process is probably feeling more patient than you are and can be accessed at any time. Take advantage of this.
  • Finally, set the parameters. Yes, you can explain the new changes that follow an upgrade pro bono, but you’ll need to define your limits, whatever they may be. Explain things as best you can, provide them with instructional video links and helpful FAQ bookmarks before leaving, distinctly state when you’re charging, when you’re on or off the clock and what times are or are not appropriate to call with a tech question. If both sides know what to expect, the tech/client relationship can grow and last through the years.

One Comment

One person was compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. John says:

    You need to be lucky as a customer. Spent hours scouring the net to fix a problem plus more hours with Apple cars all to no avail. Was referred back to an Apple Store where I was initially told the only solution was to buy a new computer.

    My existing iMac cannot use software past Snow Leopard (10.6.8) so is unable to load iTunes 12. My new iPhone 6 however would not sync (ripped music) with the iMac running iTunes 11.4. There was no problem with receiving stuff direct from the iTunes Store as this method apparently bypasses the iTunes in the iMac.

    Nor was the any problem syncing with my two old iPhones 4 and 4s, an old 8gb iPod Nano, my iPad, any memory stick or even a Nokia N900.

    Clearly software was an issue here

    Anyway I was booked by AppleCare for an appointment with my local Apple Store yesterday and they went through the whole process that AppleCare tried in order to achieve syncing all go no avail.

    I was told that as I was unable to upgrade to iTunes 12 my only option for getting my 64Gb iPhone to fulfil its intended purpose ie stream music in my car was to buy a more modern computer.

    To say I was annoyed was an understatement but I kept persisting in a calm way making it clear that this was unacceptable ‘solution’ given it was Apple software that was locking me out of the Apple iPhone.

    I was referred further up the food chain and was fortunate to be served by a young ex-army type who recognised the problem as software based. He agreed to investigate further give I had lumped my iMac to the store at their insistence to rule out a hardware issue with the phone.

    He came back some time later to advise he had identified the problem and believed he had a fix and was going to download some software

    He then brought to the counter a USB stick with an updated but yet unreleased version of iTunes 11.4 which he loaded onto my iMac which appears as 11.4(18)

    Problem solved.

    It took a terrible amount of effort on my part to get to this point and it seems from the web sites the problem is a common one. It should be this hard and I have provided feedback to Apple that they need to improve their problem solving strategy to save everybody the time an aggravation

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