How to help tech support to help you.

The pervasiveness of IT into the modern home and business, has lead to many great, and many not so great things. Love them or loath them, computers are a key part of many lives. Everyday, millions of people are turning up to work expecting their computers to work. In general, they do. But when they don't, and murphy says they will always cease to work at the most important time, it turns to your IT support crew to help. This may be a full time department within your company, it may be the company your company outsourced to, or it might be the boss's 13 year old son. No matter who it is, there are a few things you can do to make their job easier, and speed up getting your machine working again

Don't Panic

It seems so simple, but the first thing, is not to panic. Having a user phone up screaming at you, makes it hard to get the information the techs need, and doesn't help improve the day of the poor sod who answers the phone. Keep calm all is not lost. Breathe.

Think before you call

Is there really something wrong that needs fixing? Have you just forgotten to turn the machine on? Check the machine is plugged in, and the wall socket is turned on. Check that your lights are working too, there may be a power cut. Once you have done this lot, and it still isn't working, then call. You don't want a tech to walk up 10 flights of stairs, just to hit the power switch, do you?

Define the error properly

There is nothing worse for the tech support crew than someone simply phoning up with:

User: Hi there it's John, my computers broken, come fix it.

Believe it or not, I get atleast 1-2 calls like this a week. Without knowing which John, where they are in the building, and what sort of error, there is nothing we can do to fix it. Which means that the tech has to wait for the user to phone back and hope to get more info then.

Don't worry about how technical your description is, the tech is no doubt used to this, and can usually discern whats up. But even if not, just letting them know you full name, and your location can speed things up no end. It also means they can keep better logs of problems, and their fixes.

Oh and make sure the info you give is enough to narrow it down to you. "My desk", or "room 11", in which building? on what floor? "My office", which is where? The more specific you can be with where the problem is the quicker the tech support will be with you. If they have to check every room 11 on every floor, or in every building, its gonna take ages to get to you.

The more information the better

True Story

I once had a visit from someone asking for a printer cartidridge, I asked what type of printer they had, they replied "A white one" this doesn't help, we had some 300 printers, of which 298 were white.

Try and give as much information as you can about your machine. Its make, its model, what OS you are running. What exactly happened to cause it to stop working. Occasionally it might be a known problem, and simply saying "Dell GX280" is enough for the tech to pick up the right part needed, and be on their way.

Don't nag

So the main server has gone down, and you can't work. Contrary to popular beleif, the tech support crew aren't just sitting round drinking coffee not doing anything. Chances are they are upto their eyeballs trying to get it all back and working and online. Phoning them up every 5 minutes screaming "fix it fix it" at them, will only slow things down and annoy them. If you really want to help, grab a packet of donuts, and deliver them politely to the computer support office, gives them something to nibble on while they work, and makes them feel appreciated.

Be nice to your support people

It may sound obvious, but believe it or not, your support people are humans too (or a damn fine approximation). As such, they have feelings too. Yes your computer just broke, yes you just lost an afternoons work, yes you didn't have a backup. THATS NOT THEIR FAULT. If you are nice to them, they will be nice to you. Chances are, given two jobs to do, and ones for someone who is always polite and friendly, and one from someone who is rude and impatient, the nice job gets done first.

Don't expect miracles

So there is a power cut, and you have a deadline. Nagging the support people wont get the power company to get power back any quicker, it just pisses off the support crew. If there is something beyond the control of the techs, don't blame them for it. They are only human. Yes you have a deadline, so do the other 2000 employees with no power. Deal with it, its not our fault.

Say thank you

Another seemingly obvious one. Just simply saying thanks can make the tech support people feel appreciated. Any gesture you can make which cheers up their day will improve the level of service you get. A Happy tech, is a productive tech. Doughnuts, Cookies, Coffee, a thank you card, all are simple little things which can make their day just that little bit brighter.

This page last modified Tuesday, 03-Oct-2006 23:29:14 CEST.