From our hardware and software, to our telecom subscriptions, there are many aspects of our web working lives that may require us to contact tech support at some point; sometimes you can’t be your own tech support. Since I have many friends that work as tech support agents, I hear many stories about customers who make the problem worse or blame everything on the agent. Frustrating as it may be sometimes, resolving a tech issue works both ways. The support staff has to provide you with solutions, but at the same time, you need to make it easy for them to do so. Here are some tips on how you can do that:
Read the manuals and related documents first. By referring beforehand to your manuals, warranty, receipts and other documents, you’ll be prepared when you contact tech support. You’ll know the scope of your warranty, and you can try suggested troubleshooting methods before asking for outside help.
Have a record of all your communication details. Make it a habit to note the time and means of contact, whether it’s through phone, email or an online support ticket. If you’ve made contact with an agent, ask for their name. Doing this makes previous communication easy to refer to if you’re talking to another agent or if you were promised certain solutions — such as equipment replacement, a technician coming to your home, cutting penalty fees, etc. — that had poor follow-through.
Be as specific and concise as you can be. This prevents you from wasting time with back-and-forth communication on something that can be fixed with one exchange. “It won’t work!” is vague and unhelpful to the person who’s trying to help you resolve the issue. Note the specific error messages you’ve received, as well as the solutions you’ve tried on your own.
Be fair to the person on the other end of the line. Unless the support agent is rude or obnoxious, it’s unfair to vent your frustrations by yelling or whining at them. The problem may lie in the equipment itself, or even in the communication methods implemented by the support team (I know that some people get impatient when they are asked to verify their identity before anyone tries to solve their issue). It’s rare that the problem is the agent per se. Also, you’re likely to get better service by being polite.
Make phone support your last option. If you can find the help you need through online forums, manuals, or by opening online support tickets, you should try these options first before using the phone. Phone support tends to be time consuming, and more often than not you’re forced into an inefficient phone tree, or are put on hold for an hour or so. When you do use the phone, make sure that you’re prepared before the call. Keep any relevant documents ready and know how to explain your issue in as few words as possible.
Give feedback on the service when you can. Any type of feedback, whether positive or negative, is helpful to the overall support process. Just make sure that you send it to the right person. If you have a problem with an inefficient billing staff, complaining about it to the sales department won’t help.
Communicating with tech support doesn’t always have to be a nightmare. By being well prepared, we can make the process as efficient and as painless as possible.
Do you have negative experiences calling tech support? What could you have done to prevent them?