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2/25/2003
02:14 PM
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Rescue Specialist's Mission: Calm Frantic Data Losers

Data-rescue company DriveSavers adds a specialist to talk down frantic users who've lost their data.

Every IT department occasionally has to deal with angry or upset users. But at data-recovery company DriveSavers, the number of frantic customers is so high, it had to hire a specialist.

Kelly Chessen, 29, has the assignment of talking down clients who call the company freaking out over lost data. She says it's not that different from her last job--at a suicide-prevention hot line, where she talked callers out of killing themselves.

With that background, she couldn't be blamed for thinking a fried hard drive is nothing serious. But Chessen says some of her current callers are just as distraught. "You think, 'It's just data loss, get over it,' but it can be devastating," she says.

On one recent call, Chessen had to calm a CEO who lost a presentation he'd been building and needed for an important meeting. "To him, that was critical," she says. "A lot was riding on that. He was afraid he might lose his job or get demoted ... and how would he take care of his family?"

After calming her callers, Chessen helps them get their hardware to DriveSavers' engineers, who work to recover the data. The company claims a 90% success rate at resurrecting customers' records and has handled thousands of cases in its 17 years of operation.

Chessen says it's generally not too hard talking down a client and usually takes only 15 minutes. Once callers realize they still have options and might be able to get their data back, they're usually pretty reasonable. "It's really about helping them through that immediate crisis and getting them to a better place," she says.

Should disaster strike your data and important files are lost, Chessen says the most important thing to do is not follow the example of her callers. "Remember to keep calm," she says. "You need to figure out what your available resources are, or you can make the situation worse. Sometimes it's hard for us to do that, but there are solutions out there."

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