Technical Support: A Customer's Best Friend

Now that we are all firmly entrenched in the new year, I thought this would be an excellent time to get back to the business of great service.

I turn my attention to technical support, and how we as users can get the best support possible when dealing with these professionals over the phone. One of the most difficult jobs in all of service is phone-based support. To add to the complexity that comes with helping someone fix a problem you did not create, is the fact that these professionals are doing it without the advantage of touching or seeing the results of the problem first hand. This means that the person on the other end of the phone must rely on the accuracy of a frustrated customer's description, make a diagnosis, then rely on the customer to execute a series of commands that may or may not work; how many of us have the patience for that?

Remote support technologies like Logmein (www.logmein.com) have made it possible to assist users by actually logging into their computers and working on an issue first-hand, but this is not true of every computer problem and doesn't begin to address problems experienced with other electronic devices such as cell phones, cameras, video game consoles, and the like.

The effectiveness of the support customers receive depends largely on their ability to provide as much detail as possible. While technical problems are new to an individual, support professionals encounter these same issues on a daily basis. When provided with the proper information, issues are addressed more quickly and customers are able to get back to enjoying their new toys. Listed below are a few pieces of information that every customer should have before call technical support for assistance. While it is not an exhaustive list, having this information available will ensure your experience is effective and efficient.

1. The make and model of the device you are calling about, including the serial number if possible. If you are calling about software, the version number is very helpful. Be prepared with purchase information such as the date and location of the purchase.

2. A thorough description of what you are trying to do, or what you believe the software or device should do. This helps the person on the other end understand how you are using the device or software, and what you expect in the way of an outcome.

3. A complete description of the problem, including any error messages that you receive as a result of the issue.

4. What you've done to try to resolve the issue. This includes rebooting your machine, shutting down the software, or turning off the power to the device.

Finally, be patient. Most service professionals want to help customers resolve their issues, but it's up to the customer to do their part in the process.