Just Call Someone: Preparation for Your Next Technical Support Call

Apr 18 21:00 2004 Steven Presar Print This Article

Your new PC seems to have eaten that critical file that you are sure that you saved last Friday. Or you click on FILE, PRINT to get a copy of that business proposal that you need to send to a prospect

Your new PC seems to have eaten that critical file that you are sure that you saved last Friday.

Or you click on FILE,Guest Posting PRINT to get a copy of that business proposal that you need to send to a prospective client today and your printer just sits there.

In these and any number of like situations you know that computer problems may crop-up at the most inappropriate time. What do you do? You may spent time troubleshooting the resolution yourself but you have a small business to run and your business is to make it profitable and not to spend your time troubleshooting PC problems.

Your other option is to call a technical support call center for assistance.

Here are some step-by-step rules to follow to make the experience easier.

Some of these items may sound basic but they are necessary to review prior to your next call into any technical support call center.

Before You Call:

~ Make some notes. Be ready to outline, step-by-step, just what happened and what you were doing prior to it happening.

~ Try to repeat the problem so that you know what error messages, if any, popped up.

~ Read everything you can in manuals, online information and FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) lists, to make sure you aren't just suffering from an all-too-common and quickly solved problem.

~ Perhaps you should use the email support option offered by most companies support services. Often, by writing down the problem, it helps you get a clear picture of the problem in your mind. Then, your receive reply, you have the step-by-step resolution in black & white for your records.

~ Make sure you've downloaded all the most recent updates and patches. Don't expect the technical support rep to spend a lot of time troubleshooting your copy of their software when it may be two or three generations old. Their are trained to troubleshoot the most current version of their software.

~ Have your warranty cards, customer number and serial numbers ready. In addition, have a pen and paper available to take notes. You may want to have your manual ready because you might be asked to refer to it.

~ Have a ready outline of the troubleshooting steps you've done to solve the problem to this point.

~ If you can, call at off-peak times. Generally, mornings are less busy in customer call centers. You may try to determine where a company is from their literature, manuals, or web site. Generally, that is where their customer support call center is located. If they are located in Palo Alto, CA, that's West Coast Time, if their support line opens at 6 a.m. try then. In addition, the newer, less experienced support reps are assigned the busiest and odd hour shifts when they first start out fielding customer support telephone calls. Thus, if you make the effort to call at the right time, you'll hold less time to get to a support person and may get a more seasoned support person who may be able to solve your problem in less time.

Computer Hardware Problems:

~ Make sure your computer is plugged in and turned on and that you have power in your office at that wall electrical outlet. Be certain that all your peripherals, keyboard, mouse, monitor, printer, external drives, etc., are connected properly. Unplug them and plug them back in again just to insure that all are seeded properly. This may resolve a hardware problem.

~ Try to isolate the problem. What exact piece of hardware is not working and under what circumstance?

~ Try to recall any new piece of hardware or software that you may have installed to your computer system recently. Has that installation resulted in your current problem? What has changed within your computer system recently? Could that have resulted in your current error messages?

~ Search the Internet for technical support sites for your hardware where your support questions may be answered.

Computer Software Problems:

~ Be as specific and detailed as you can. Try to isolate the problem. What exact piece of software is not working and under what circumstance.

~ Know what's installed on your computer, at least in terms of major pieces of software. Occasionally, there are known conflicts that the tech support rep will know about. Try to remember if you've installed something new in the past couple of days. Even new hardware might cause software application to stop performing as it should.

~ Know what operating system you have installed (Windows XP, Windows 98, etc.) and what version. Often that makes a great deal of difference as to whether a piece of software functions or not.

~ Search the Internet online for technical support sites for your hardware where your questions may be answered.

~ Don't try to get support for a piece of software you don't own. If you have installed a pirated copy of "xyz" word processing software, don't expect the "xyz" technical support call center to help you with your problems running their software that you have not paid for.

~ Be prepared to create a report of your problem (the technical support representative will talk you through this) so that it can be sent email to the software's technical support center for deeper diagnoses and an email reply.

After You Get Through to a Technical Support Rep ("Tech Rep"):

~ No matter how long you hold to wait on hold on the phone, be ready to jump into troubleshooting your problem. The individual tech rep is not responsible for your hold time (no matter how long it has been). Many technical support call centers have an "acceptable hold time range". The centers want to channel their customers into other support options before you call into their center to talk to a tech rep. Thus, encouraging you to check their provide users manual, a web site info-base, an online news group, or inquire via email; before you call into their technical center. In other words, your first impulse when you have a problem, "to call someone" for help, is contrary to the technical call center's view that it should be your last option.

~ Be specific regarding your problem and the circumstance under which it occurs. If your problem relates to a specific hardware device or software package, don't say your computer system is "acting up" or "blown up". If your problem relates to a specific hardware device or software package, state that clearly to the tech rep. Save your opinions about the overall operation of your computer system for another call.

~ Don't exaggerate the problem. Don't say this is "always" happening to you, when in reality it's only happened once or twice.

~ Do what the tech rep ask you to do in troubleshooting your problem. Don't interrupt their troubleshooting steps. Something that you think has no point in trying, may actually solve the problem.

~ Lastly, as stated above, be prepared to create a written report so that it can be sent email to the software's technical support center. You may have discovered sometime that they are not aware of about their software.

Keep these tips handy for the next time that you have trouble with your office computer and have the urge to "call someone"!

Copyright Steven Presar

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About Article Author

Steven Presar
Steven Presar

Steven Presar is a recognized small business technology coach, Internet publisher, author, speaker, and trainer. He provides personal, home, and computer security solutions at www.ProtectionConnect.com. He provides business software reviews at www.OnlineSoftwareGuide.com. In addition, he publishes articles for starting and running a small business at www.Agora-Business-Center.com. Be sure to sign-up for the SOHO newsletter at the site.

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