How to get the best technical support
For non technical users it’s not always clear what information is important for the technical support department to be able to solve the issue and how to communicate that in the most efficient way. That’s why I wrote this list of tips, based on sixteen years of experience as a technical support provider.
Reading and following these guidelines will save you and your support department a lot of time and frustration.
- Describe as specific as possible what you did so far and what you saw on the screen.
- Include the full error message if you got any. We can’t do anything when you tell us “I got an error about something being invalid”.
- Add a link to the page where we can see the issue. Not just your homepage unless that’s where the problem is.
- Add screenshots if possible.
- Try not to dump your frustration on the person you are asking for help.
- Keep your support requests limited to the topic you need help on.
How to be as specific as possible?
Let me give you some examples to clarify.
Bad: I can’t login to my website. I’ve tried everything and it just doesn’t work.
Good: When I enter my username and password and click login I see the error “Username or password Incorrect” I’ve already tried to reset my password, but when I do that I get the error “email unknown”.
In the above example the “bad” support request didn’t include all the needed information. Telling a technical person that you’ve tried “everything” doesn’t mean much. Always be as precise as you can in explaining what you’ve tried so far and why that didn’t work.
Bad: I’m so frustrated, I’ve been a photographer for 5 years and I just started blogging but nothing is working! Whatever I try there is always some problem even I follow all the courses and manuals step by step. My homepage isn’t even working at all and I can’t get the menu to work either. Why is this so hard? I’ve watched hours of Youtube and it’s just not working at all.
Good: When I enter my website (www.mywebsite .com) I see “page not found”. Also, I would like to add links in my menu to the different post categories I created, how to do that?
Of course we understand it can be irritating if things don’t go your way, and we are here to help you! Don’t forget you are asking for technical help, not for emotional support. Tech supporters are people too, and it can be just as frustrating for us if you don’t “help us to help you”. There really is no reason to include any “background story”. We prefer to dive right into the actual technical issue.
A few more general tips for dealing with any support department
- Limit your support requests to one problem each.
Support departments often go over the support requests as quickly as possible and might miss one of your questions otherwise. You can make multiple posts or multiple emails if you have multiple questions. That has the added advantage that if one of the questions needs a bit more research your other questions won’t have to wait for that.
- There really is no need to tell a support department that you are frustrated and you need help. A pleasant demeanor will get a more pleasant response every time. Most technical supporters prefer to get straight into the technical issue. That you need help is already implied by the fact that you contact the support department.
- Don’t try to mark your issue as URGENT. Support departments usually go trough the tickets in the order they come in. It’s like trying to jump the queue at the supermarket.
- Don’t write in all capital letters. It’s considered as SHOUTING.
- Realize that a support department costs money. Paying clients will usually get priority over free users. In the end we all got to pay the bills.
I hope this helps you to get the most out of support departments you might need to deal with.
Take it one step at a time and if it’s getting too much, take a little break before trying again. Sometimes taking a step back is all that is needed to connect the dots.
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