I have addressed the problem of cold closure in this blog before, but I still see it happening… and it is still a drain on educational technology resources.
Just like good stories, good technology support has a beginning (when the problem is reported to the appropriate technician or trainer), middle (when the problem is solved), and end (when the technician or trainer stops working on it). A cold closure occurs when the technician stops working as they believe they resolved the problem, but does not communicate the status of the solution to the user (or users); cold closures pose a significant threat to the effectiveness of technology support systems.
Consider the example of a teacher who observes that workstations in a computer room are not printing as expected. She reports that to the technicians in the manner they expect, and a technician is dispatched to fix it. The technician attempts a solution and finds he can log on and print as expected; thus, he stops working on the problem. Due to a schedule with far more tasks than time or being cornered by someone who happens to see the technician and interrupts his work, the technician does not communicate that the problem is fixed. When the teacher returns to the computer room, she finds her students still cannot print. This is probably because the teachers inaccurately described what was happening so the technician fixed the wrong problem, the conditions had changed so the problem was not observed, or he incompletely tested his solution.
Because the technician did not tell the teacher, “the problem is fixed,” it was cold closed; so the teacher assumed the problem was not yet solved, so she does not report it again. The result is the students and teachers are using a computer that provides less functionality than it is designed to provide for longer than necessary.
The advice I give technology professionals is clear: Avoid cold closure. Find the person who reported the problem (in-person is best, phone call or voice mail is acceptable, email is adequate) and tell them you think the problem is fixed. Encourage them to reach out if “it is still broken.”
Better yet, whenever possible, have the individual take control of the machine and confirm the system is working as they expect.
And don’t tell me you don’t have time for this. It is your job to provide good customer service, and good communication and a sense of trust is the foundation of all customer service.