Tips for Talking to Tech Support

tech support

Maybe your internet is on the fritz. Perhaps your laptop is acting like it has a mind of its own. Possibly your desktop is making a weird noise. Whatever the case may be, you know its time to call tech support. In an era where reliance on technology is greater than ever, so is our reliance on the people who fix it. We’ve all had experiences with technical support, some good and some bad. Maybe the fix is quick and simple, other times it may require multiple attempts, replacement parts, or someone to come to your house or business. Whatever this cause, solving the problem while avoiding a cringe worthy support experience is the goal.

Prepare for your call

There are two very helpful things you can do when it comes to contacting tech support; Making the time for a call, and allowing time for follow-up. In some cases, you’ll have to sit on hold for a while before someone is available to help. It’s a good idea to plan for a chunk of time you can dedicate to waiting. This doesn’t have to be time wasted – you can read a book, work on a project, or otherwise keep yourself busy. Just be sure when the support person is available to assist, you can redirect your attention to them. If the situation requires the support person to follow-up later, get an idea of when that might happen. Armed with this information, you can make sure you have time set aside to come back to the issue, and work towards a solution.

Try emailing or chat

If you suffer from phone phobia, or just hate talking on the phone, try a digital means of communication. Companies often offer a chat service on their website, or a technical support email address. Support personnel can service more customers at one time with chat, often having multiple conversations going at once. This can be good because the response times are quick, but bad if the support representative is too distracted. Emailing technical support works well in situations where you may need to try steps and then test the results. The support representative can keep track of your case over time, which helps avoid duplicating work by keeping a detailed record. It’s important to note that these only work well for non-urgent issues, so anything time sensitive should always be done with a phone call.

Provide as much detail as possible, without going overboard

Knowing what information to provide can be a challenge, and providing irrelevant information can cause confusion. In most cases, its best to start simple. When did the problem start? How long has it been occurring? Has any new software or hardware been installed recently? If there is an error message displayed, write down EXACTLY what it says. Can you replicate the problem by following certain steps? What your dog is doing, how long you’ve been married and what you had for dinner are fun facts, but not germane to solving your tech woes. Also, try not to be too general when describing your problem. “It’s broken” isn’t very helpful. Finally, take some notes prior to initiating contact with tech support. This helps to make sure all the relevant information is passed on, and nothing gets forgotten.

Remember, the technician is your friend

It’s easy to get frustrated, particularly if the problem is a reoccurring one. Sometimes, the tech support representative takes the brunt of your displeasure. From experience, I know the majority of technical support people just want to solve your problem – as badly as you do. In order to efficiently troubleshoot, a series of steps must be followed. While you may have tried them before, it’s important to follow the instructions being given and work through the process. If you find yourself getting frustrated, it might be a good idea to come back to the problem later.

Don’t’ be afraid to escalate

Sometimes, you may not be getting what you need. Technical support comes in many flavors, but the bottom line is they are humans with varying levels of expertise. If you don’t feel like you’re getting the level of support you need, ask if you can be escalated. Sometimes, your initial contact will be with a first level support representative. Their job is to record the details of your issue, and then determine where the problem may lie. They might try a few basic steps. If you work through those and don’t get anywhere, its time to go up the chain.

Document your tech support encounter

If you get a ticket number, write it down. If you have correspondence through a chat window or email, save it. The steps outlined may not only come in handy later, they can be proof of a promise made. In certain cases, sharing this information with other tech support people can help as well.

Have realistic expectations

If your computer is 10 years old, and you’re trying to make it go faster – you probably won’t be happy with the results. If the problem you have occurs twice a year, when the moon is full, and only on a high tide – likely it won’t be something that’s a quick and easy fix, if there is one at all. Having your issue instantly and magically fixed with no effort on your part may not be possible. Setting realistic expectations, and communicating those to the tech support representative, can help everyone reach an agreeable outcome.

Matt Rice, CTO

Matt is a graduate of Central Maine Technical College. He has been with Burgess since 2001, acting as Service Manager, then General Manager, before becoming an owner. Matt focuses on developing and delivering technologies that fit best with customer needs.

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