Thank you to librarianinblack.net for this blog post which features the great reminders on how we can all get better technical support. Visit this link to see the full post. http://librarianinblack.typepad.com/librarianinblack/2007/07/5-ways-to-get-g.html
As someone who has both given and received copious amounts of tech support, I thought I could offer a few pointers on what works and what doesn't. If you have anything to add, please leave a comment!
- Don't be afraid or sheepish to ask for help. If I got a nickel for every time someone came to me asking for help saying "This is a stupid question," or "I'm sorry to ask you this, but...", well, I'd be rather wealthy. This is what the tech support people are there for! It's their job. You can certainly be nice to them, but don't be afraid to straight-out ask for help.
- Ask for help right away. Instead of plugging away for hours to try to figure out a problem, go ahead and tap their expertise early. The earlier you get to them, the less frustrated you will be and the more likely that you will have a pleasant interaction.
- Explain what you are trying to do when something went wrong and then what happened--exactly. Please don't give the whole story about where you are trying to go with your project and why you are trying to do what you're doing, and why you hate this particular program... If you can list the exact steps that took you to the problem point and then what happened, including any error messages you saw and screenshots, that will help the tech support person help you.
- Keep your goal in mind. Remember your goal is to get good tech support and to get your problem solved. So many tech support people get burned out. They're dealing with problems all day, never anything nice or a "wow this works great!" Remember that the tech support people are not the ones who built the product that is annoying you; they are the ones who are trying to help you. They want to help you. Remembering that, it will serve you well to say thank you when the solution is solved, and to be pleasant to the person during the interaction.
- Don't turn your emergency into someone else's. This goes out beyond tech report, but it also applies here. When we find ourselves in an emergency, or we left something to the last minute, we become crazed. As a result, we infect others around us with our craziness. If you infect tech support with your panic, you will not only get worse service, you will probably become "that guy" -- the person that the tech support people avoid in every possible way. You don't want to be "that guy," so calm down, get the help you need, and continue solving your emergency.
When calling about help with software issues, there are a few additional things to keep in mind…
- Start with a reboot of your pc before you call support. They are machines and machines have fluky days too. Sometimes just simply rebooting (Shutdown or Restart) can correct the problem.
- If you receive an error, write it down or take a print screen of it. And if you can, note exactly what key strokes or actions were processed right before the error was displayed.
- Take a minute to think about what has changed on the computer recently? Did the operating system do an automatic update? Was a new printer or other hardware installed? Were any software updates installed (for the software having problems and others; sometimes an update to something like virus protection software can affect other programs installed on the same pc).