I explained why I was asking for this information and restated the request in alternative ways, but it not help.
Most of the time, non-technical users don't just struggle with your phrasing, but rather with understanding the underlying core concept of what you're asking. Rephrasing your request isn't going to help here, it's just going to create more confusion as they are now unsure whether you're asking for a second thing or not.
It was a frustrating experience,
It was frustrating for the user too.
and in the end, I had to request assistance from another colleague.
So why didn't you do so in the beginning? How did the colleague solve the issue? Why is the answer to your question not simply "do what your colleague did"?
Having worked as the trainer of a call centre, I can tell you that there's a particular skill in providing technical service to non-technical people: knowing how to extract information. As the expert between the two of you, the onus is on you to bridge the gap between you and the non-technical user.
To be fair, the difficult communication you experience is not always your fault. I've dealt with users who described that "their laptop won't start" when in fact they couldn't log in. But even in those cases, it's your task to work through the problem until you stumble on the actual issue.
You can't expect a layman to talk to an expert on the expert's level. No matter how frustrating you find it to have to talk to someone with less technical skill than you; keep in mind that if they had the same technical skill than you, maybe you wouldn't have a job there. Don't resent company employees for not knowing to do the job you're employed to do for them.
As a simple example, I needed to know which version of Windows was installed on their machine (7, 8 or 8.1). This user was clearly not able to find out by themselves; so how would you approach it?
There are some ways to walk them through to getting the right information (the shortest I know of now is to press the Win key + the Pause/Break key), but there was a much simpler way: I asked them to describe the start menu button.
For reference: the start menu button on W7 has a wavy flag in a circular button, on W8 there is no Windows flag, and on W8.1 there is a straight-line flag with no circular border around it.
This was an simple visual distinctionthat a layman could easily differentiate between, and thus there was no issue in communicating with the user. I got my information, the user didn't have to struggle to understand my questions or how to figure out how to answer them, and we didn't waste each other's time.
Given the time sensitive nature of the task, and that a potential security incident was occurring, there was not enough time to teach the end - user , or guide them in detailed procedures. It was painful watching in the SOC of continued SIEM alerts for which response was hampered.
This is a failing on your department's behalf. Your department is apparently depending on uninformed laymen for critical time-sensitive information. The difficulty in communicating is an obvious consequence when you've decided to rely on untrained laymen. This is why experts are hired for important jobs.
Your department needs to address this issue. There are many solutions here:
- Find a way to remote into the machine yourself
- Give the on-site users a training on what they need to do when you need them to give you the information
- Ensure that a trained employee can visit the site in a reasonable time frame
- Stop worrying about the time it takes to have untrained and unskilled people perform a task they were never prepared for.