How to get IT consultants to speak in non-technical language

A lot people take the mickey out of Tech Support companies, IT consultants, IT technicians and IT engineers that they all talk in “binary code 1’s and 0’s” but to be honest, that isn’t so far away from the truth.

When I was an employee, my good friend Andrew Boast (now MD of Share A Mortgage) used the same quote when talking about me when we were working together, although he was joking…well sort of!

But we have seen a significant number of clients that don’t really understand the technical side of support issues and proposals and to be fair why would they, it’s not their profession.


From your point of view (support):

“I have a problem and I just need it to be fixed. I have no idea what the problem is (hence why I called you) and I understand less about what you are telling me is needed to resolve the issue, than the actual issue itself”

This is a common problem where the client calls for help and the support engineer will in return baffle and confuse them with technical reasons why the problem has occurred and even more technical steps on how they will resolve it.

What to do:

The engineer needs to be able to translate everything in such a way that you understand what the problem is, how long it will take to resolve, with the fewest amount of words so you can get back to your business.

So it is absolutely fine for you to say to them, “I don’t understand what you are saying, explain it to me in a way that I can understand” or “please just fix the issue and let me know when it’s done”.

A good engineer should be able to explain the issue to you in your context (or should have done from the initial call!) and then resolve the problem relatively quickly.

If you feel this isn’t happening, speak to the Manager or even the business owners to understand why this is not being achieved.


From your point of view (projects):

The same applies to a project proposal or IT solution. If the proposal document written or even telephone calls are too technical, then an updated document needs to be written that is understood at your technical level and then explained properly to you either over the phone or face-to-face.

IT proposals will always have a technical element within them, but a meeting and scheduled telephone calls should go hand-in-hand with this so that the information is translated to you properly.

What to do:

You need to look through the waffle! You need to know A) what is actually being offered, B) how much it costs, C) how it will benefit you and D) how long it will take to complete.

So you have absolute right to go back to your IT supplier/IT consultant and say, “I have no idea what the proposal means, present something to me that I understand and then let’s setup a meeting”.

You will be surprised how quickly they will turn around with a lighter document in less technical detail, together with arranging a meeting (hopefully!) to go through it with you.

Again, if you feel this isn’t happening, speak to the Manager or business owners with your frustrations and comments.


Special thanks goes to Chris Randall from CR Consulting & Coaching on his suggestion for this article!

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