How to Survive a Technical Support Call

As I stand poised on the edge of getting out of the hell that is technical support, I thought I might impart upon you a bit of wisdom from the inside.

Here are a few things that will help you survive the call. It doesn’t matter what field of technology you are looking for help with, this all holds true.

  1. Information matters. – This is #1 because I’ve gotten so very, very tired of people calling me or emailing me with no more information than “The thing isn’t working.” or “The laptop is broken.” If I’m on the phone with someone and they say that, I have taken to saying nothing at all until they get the hint that I need more. If its an email, I rage around the office looking for things to go smashy on because I’m not a mind reader.
    •  When you call, have the model and serial number if possible of whatever you need help with.
    • Have a detailed description of the problem. “Its broke” is a bad way to start the relationship you’re about to have with a tech support representative.
    • How long had the thing been working before it stopped, or is this something new that isn’t working?
    • What have you already tried to fix it?

    The more information….the better. The easier your life will be.

  2. Don’t be this guy:
    • You’d be amazed at how many people I deal with on the phones or otherwise who will give me a line like “No, it can’t be that.” or even “I’m not going to try that.” The reason for this I think, is that often I’ll give them a set of instructions for resolving the issue that is going to take a few minutes to complete, and they’d have to hang up the phone and do what I asked them to. They get mad and want the ‘right now, fix it’ answer, and it isn’t acceptable to get off the phone without a resolution, no matter how moronic that sounds.
  3. Your credentials don’t exempt you from stupid mistakes.
    Here’s another one that drives us insane. I don’t care how long you’ve been working with computers or electronics, if you’re told to check your wiring or your setup- do it. Tech support rarely has an answer to a problem right out of the gate. There’s a set system of progression as far as troubleshooting goes. If you decide to skip steps on us because of your ego, you’ll make us mad. And if we spend significant time chasing down the problem and find out that the answer was in one of the steps you skipped, you’re going to be made fun of in the office for being a dumbass. Just do as you’re asked.
  4. Be angry before you call.
    I totally understand going through most everything from mild irritation to catastrophic rage in the moments before you have to call technical support. The confusion when something doesn’t work. The annoyance when you can’t fix it yourself, and the downright anger when you have to dial the phone and ask some jerk to help you. But you’ve GOT to get the madness out of your system before you call tech support. If you’re mad at a legitimate problem, remember, I might be mad because I just took 6 calls in a row that could have been answered by the manual. You being angry doesn’t help me help you- and remember too, I’m not the one that broke the damn thing, why are you mad at me? Irritation is a bad thing to start a conversation with. Go look on youtube and see how many videos that start off with yelling and screaming end amicably. Go on, look. I’ll wait.
  5. Your irritation with out company policies, products, or procedures is not my problem, and I can’t help you with them.
    This is one I see all the time. I’ll help someone with a product and after its all done, I’ll get the dissertation about how something we’re doing as a company with the product in question is done poorly and needs to be fixed. If you want to talk to me about anything other than support, you’re wasting your breath. Even if you have a marvelous idea on how we can make things better, the odds of my being able to influence the masters of the company as the lowest of the low technical support representative are pretty slim. Call the main office number and bitch to them.
  6. You are not special.
    I recently had a man rip me a new one on the phone because I refused to change the return policy our company had on a product. He ranted and raved to me about how much business he does for us, and so on. My only thought was, that if he was that good a customer, he’d have been a bit more familiar with how we do things. You and I might share laughs on the phone, or bond over a mutual love of a sports team, but do not ask me to change or circumvent any policies for you, especially where warranty or returns are concerned. You may not realize just how thorough the paperwork is on things these days, and I’d have a hell of a time answering the question “Why did you authorize the replacement of a product that is 6 months out of warranty?” with “Well, the guy seemed cool.”

Most of these are pretty much common sense. As with anyone else in the service industry, the kinder and more human you are to us- the higher quality service you’ll get from us. I have gone way over shift working with someone on a call because they were great to work with, and nice to me. I’ve also ended calls with a much more pleasant version of the line “Sucks to be you.”

Technical support is a strange world. The people who live in it from the supply end see and hear things on a daily basis that can ruin a day before lunch time. The demand side is full of the ‘need it now’ mentality, and the relationships forged by the two ends are often some of the most caustic and necessary in the entire universe.

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