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Steps to take for a positive tech support phone call experience

Everyone knows that calling tech support (regardless of the company) can be painful to say the least. Phones, computers, printers, copiers, POS machines....they are supposed to make our work lives easier but we all know what the reality is when there is a "Technical issue" Believe it or not, calling tech support for a computer or telephone problem doesn't have to ruin your day. I can't promise that the experience will be enjoyable, but there are a few things you can do to help make talking to tech support less painful for you than it may have been in the past.


Be Prepared Before Calling

Before you pick up the phone, make sure you're prepared to explain your problem. The better prepared you are, the less time you'll spend talking to tech support. The exact things you should have ready will vary depending on your problem but here are a few to keep in mind:

  • If you have an error message: What's the exact error message on your screen?
  • If you don't have an error message: What exactly is your computer doing? "It just doesn't work" isn't going to help resolution.
  • Has anyone made any changes to the system?
  • When did the problem start happening?
  • Did anything else happen at the same time the problem started? (e.g. a blue screen of death, virus warning, etc.)
  • What have you already done to troubleshoot the problem?
  • Is anyone else at your office having similar issues or just you?

Answers to any and all of the above questions will almost certainly increase your chances of a resolution to your problem

Communicate Clearly

Working with technical support is all about communication. The entire reason for your call is to communicate to the support person what the problem is and for them to communicate back to you what you need to do (or they need to do) to fix the problem. The person on the other end of the phone could be located pretty much anywhere and chances are if he/she is in technical support they will likely have different communication skills then you do. They don't call them "techies" for nothing. Also, make sure you're calling from a quiet area. A barking dog or loud conversation is unlikely to improve upon any communication problem you may be having already.

Be Thorough and Specific

You have to tell the whole story in as much detail as possible. For example, saying "My computer just quit working" doesn't say anything at all. There are hundreds of ways a computer might not "be working" and the ways to fix those problems vary tremendously. I always recommend stepping through, in great detail, the process that produces the problem. This again speaks to who you will be talking to. Assuming you are dealing with a quality company (like Okanagan Telephone/Connect-IT) you will be talking to an analytical, methodical troubleshooter. These people simply cannot get enough information. If your computer won't turn on, for example, you might describe the problem to tech support like this: "I hit the power button on my computer and a green light comes on the front of my computer and on my monitor. Some text shows up on the screen for just a second and then the whole thing shuts off. The monitor stays on but all the lights on the front of my computer case turn off. If I power it on again, the same thing happens over and over."

Repeat the Details

Another way to avoid confusion when communicating is by repeating what the person you're talking to is saying. Not only does this avoid confusion but it also gives the technician a visual of exactly what step you are at. Missing a step is one of the most common causes of a failed problem resolution. For example, let's say tech support advises you to "Click on x, then click on y, then select z." You should repeat back "Okay, I clicked on x, then I clicked on y, then I selected z." This way, tech support is confident that you completed the steps as asked and you're confident that you fully understood what was asked of you. Answering "Okay, I did that" doesn't confirm that you understood each other.

Don't Get Emotional

No one likes technology problems. Getting emotional, however, solves absolutely nothing. All getting emotional does is lengthen the amount of time you have to talk to tech support which will frustrate you even more. Try to keep in mind that the person you're talking to on the phone didn't design the hardware or program the software that's giving you problems. He or she has been hired to help solve your problem based on the information given to them by the company and from you. Also keep in mind that technology is changing quickly which ultimately increases the difficulty of troubleshooting. You're only in control of the information you're providing so your best bet is to take another look at some of the tips above and try to communicate as clearly as you possibly can.

Get a "Ticket Number"

It might be called an issue number, reference number, incident number, etc., but every modern day tech support group, whether across the hall or across the world, uses some kind of ticket management system to track the issues that they receive from their customers and clients. Okanagan Telephone/Connect-IT is no different and will always be able to provide you with a 5 digit order number. All of our support calls are documented and logged for future reference if required.

The Only Thing Worse Than Calling Tech Support...

... is calling tech support twice. A sure fire way to need tech support for a second time is if the problem didn't get fixed on your first call. In other words, read the above tips again before you pick up the phone! If you're armed with this information before you make that first call to support, the chances of what the industry calls "first call resolution" go way up while the chances of a "call-back" are drastically reduced. That's good for the company's bottom line and really good for your sanity!