There is a lot that you can do to get effective and relatively fast resolution to your technical issues from technical support personnel.  By “technical support” I am referring to any technical support staff such as the IT department at the company you work for, technical support for your Internet provider, technical support for broadband TV service (e.g., Verizon FiOS), etc.  Knowing what to say and what information to provide can significantly decrease the time it takes to resolve your issue.

I have been working in the field of technology for over 30 years and have encountered many tech problems that people have come to me to solve for them.  These range from a problem with their computer system, printer, monitor, network, etc.  Sometimes, if not most of the time I have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the problem is from the person.  Once I know what the problem is and information pertaining to it, then I can work on resolving it.

I believe an example will do well here.  Imagine if you went to your doctor and said, “Doctor.  I don’t feel well.”  What do you think the doctor will do?  He or she will begin asking questions about you not feeling well.  He or she may also have to schedule certain tests to determine what is wrong.  The doctor doesn’t know what’s wrong (besides the obvious, e.g., broken arm) unless you give him or her information.  The more information you give, the quicker your diagnosis.  If you don’t give enough information, then the doctor has to now spend time to get it out of you somehow, even if that means tests at a later date, thus prolonging the resolution of the problem.

Like the doctor, it is important that you provide enough information to help the technical support person figure out what the issue is and/or what caused it.  What information should you provide?  In this article, I hope to answer that basic question.  I would like to share with you some tips from that experience that I believe will help you get fast resolutions to your technical issues.

Don’t assume a crystal ball.  People sometimes seem to think that the tech support person can read their minds or can look in a crystal ball to see what happened. Such is not the case of course.  I would have no idea what the problem is until you communicate it.  I’ve had people contact me with statements such as, “My file won’t work” or “I can’t boot the internet”, or “Put this content on the system page.”  Remember, that the IT person doesn’t know what’s wrong with your file, or what you mean by “boot the internet” or what you call the “system page.”

Be specific and complete. This continues the above tip.  Paint a picture to the IT person as to what the problem is and how it happened, or what you want.  Instead of saying, “My file won’t work,” you might instead say something like, “When I double click on the MS Word file, I get an error that says _______.”  The more the tech support person knows up front, the quicker your problem will be resolved.

Note the error message.  People will many times approach me and say they got an error message after doing something.  That doesn’t help much at all in resolving the issue.  That’s like going to the doctor and saying, “I’m sick.”  The first thing I would ask is, “What was the error message?”  Be sure to write down or save the error message so that you can give it to the support person.  That will greatly speed the resolution of your issue.

Let the tech person work.  There have been many times when I have been called to someone’s desk to solve a problem.  However, when I get there, the person remains in the seat and continues to try different things to solve the problem.  Now it is not always that I need to sit down at the seat, but if I do, then get up and allow me to work.  You might even ask the tech person, as some people do, if he or she would like to “drive,” i.e., sit down in front of the computer.  Basically, allow the tech person to do their thing.

Don’t use terms if you don’t know what they mean.  I’ve had people tell me that their memory is low or that they have run out of memory on their computer.  I find that the memory (RAM) is sufficient. However, what the person was talking about was the free space on the hard drive, not system memory. It is best to describe what is going on or what you have discovered so far instead of trying to be technical.  This will help avoid miscommunication.

Send screenshots.  You have probably heard the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  The same is true with communicating information about an issue to tech support.  If you email tech support, or otherwise submit a ticket online, then include screenshots showing error messages, position of things, etc.  The tech support person can get a lot of information if he or she can see things that support any written description you have also submitted.  This will help you get a faster resolution to your issue.

Remember everything you did prior to the issue. Recall any changes right before your problem occurred (Example: installed or uninstalled software, updated software, etc.).  This will give the tech support person clues as to what the issue might be.  Don’t prejudge what changed.  Tell the tech person everything you did, even something like you connected a different keyboard or mouse.

Don’t complain about the problem.  Many times people start badgering the tech support person with how urgent this issue is and how it has to be resolved fast.  They go on and start telling him how revenue is being lost, or otherwise how bad things are because of this issue.  Don’t complain about the problem.  Sure you might indicate that it is the company president’s computer or the payroll system so that the tech person can assign appropriate priorities.  Other than that, don’t go on and on how the president is going to be upset and, again, how bad things are.  Just provide the information about the problem so that the tech support person can resolve the issue quickly.

Besides, you don’t want to stress out the tech person when he or she is trying to solve your problem   The problem doesn’t care if it is the president’s computer.  That won’t make the tech person think better.  As a matter of fact you may make it worse by stressing the techie out.  You are not helping by complaining about the problem.  You are actually being counterproductive.

Follow instructions.  If the tech support personnel gives you a list of things to do, then do it.  The sooner you do it and send back the results of what you did, then the sooner your issue will be resolved.  I have had situations where the person was “too busy” to do what I told her to do and then complained about the process taking so long.  Another person had the exact same problem.  I told her what to do, she did it, and I was able to immediately resolve her problem because of the the information she gave me from what she did.  Follow instructions and the process to resolution will go a lot faster.

Don’t change things during the process.  If you contact technical support with an issue and begin the process to resolve it, then don’t start experimenting with things yourself to try to resolve it.  The techie will be working with what he or she believes to be a known condition, not realizing that you have changed those conditions.  This could significantly delay resolution to your problem.  If you do have to change something after the fact, then be sure to inform the tech person.

Be nice and understanding.  Don’t be confrontational with the tech person.  She wants to solve the problem just as much as you do.  He would rather not have to deal with system failures or a problem with the president’s computer for example.  So be nice.  The tech person is there to help you.  Antagonizing him or her will only make matters worse for you.  Any human being is more likely to work well with someone who treats them nicely as opposed to someone who is discourteous, mean, and even belligerent.  Let your nice and pleasant attitude help you get great and fast support.  Remember that the tech person may have to deal with all kinds of people, some of which are mean to them. How pleasant it is to work with someone who is pleasant.

Show gratitude.  When the tech support personnel fixes your problem, then thank him or her.  Be sure to send an email telling them that you appreciate them working with you to fix the problem.  If you can copy the manager than do so.  If there is a review, then submit a review of your experience.  Always show gratitude.  It helps the tech person feel good about what they do with the people they serve.  It’s not a good thing if you a person feels abused or unappreciated.

Conclusion

I hope these tips help you to get faster and more effective technical support.  Remember these tips the next time you have a computer or technology problem.  It could make the difference between a fast resolution and a prolonged one.  The main thing is to communicate effectively with your tech support personnel.  Be specific about the problem and what happened leading up to it.  Be courteous with them (we’re human too).  Trust them and remember to show gratitude.