Tech Support Made Easy

Whether talking to a manufacturer’s support or a premium support service (such as Hey PC Guy), chances are, you’re already frustrated and rightly so. It’s difficult when technology doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to and irritating when you can’t fix it yourself. Add to that many of the frustrations of talking to many manufacturer’s help desks such as long hold times and hard to understand accents, and sometimes it’s tempting to just throw in the towel and give up technology all together.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prepare that will make the situation easier. Let’s start with a few pieces of information you should have ready before you call.

  1. The exact error message if you’re getting one. Particularly any error codes. Those codes are a very significant indicator of what the problem is and can save the technician a lot of time in getting your problem resolved.
  2. If you are having a problem with a piece of hardware, know the model number.
  3. Know what operating system you are using including the service pack. For example, instead of telling the tech you’re using windows, let them know you have Windows XP Pro Service Pack 2. For Windows users, you can find that by right clicking on “My Computer” or “Computer” (depending on the version of Windows) and selecting “properties”. For Mac users, click on the Apple logo and in the drop down menu click on “About this Mac”.

Depending on the problem, there is a possibility that your Operating System may need to be repaired or even reinstalled. In these cases, it’s important to have a backup and, if your computer came with an OS disk, to know where that disk is. It’s not a bad idea to have these things ready at any given time, as you never know when a problem may arise that will require you to completely reinstall your Operating System.

Okay, so you have all the technical information that they need. How do you deal with the person on the other end of the phone to make things as easy as possible?

  1. While the squeeky wheel does often get the grease, getting into a fight with your technician may have the opposite effect you are looking for and is going to put you under more stress than you already are. While a good technician understands that you are frustrated with the situation and may need to vent, it can be difficult for them to keep their cool when being yelled at all day. Plus, in many large corporate environments, the techs are required to follow certain scripted procedures when working with a “hostile” customer. These procedures often do nothing but extend the length of the call and cause more frustration on both ends. Instead, be as professional with them as you expect them to be with you. Be polite if not downright friendly and they are likely to go out of their way to try and help you.
  2. At most manufacturer helpdesks, the first tier support techs are working from a knowledgebase and are required to follow each step before going further. Regardless of what steps you have taken already, don’t fight them on this. Just go through the motions even if you’ve already done it. This will save you time and, if you’ve already done everything on the list, get you to a higher level technician faster. Once out of the first tier of technicians, the higher tier technicians are generally much more flexible.

You’ll notice that I reference manufacturer help desks often. If you are under warranty, absolutely give them a shot. However, if you are going to be charged regardless of where you go, you might consider going with a premium support service to alleviate many of the support desk blues. Advantages include:

  • Shorter hold times
  • 1st tier techs are often equivalent to 2nd tier or higher at a manufacturers helpdesk in both experience and flexibility
  • The technical support department is the ONLY department, which means that their existence relies on your satisfaction.
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