Despite my “Nerd Chick” credentials, I’ve had to call technical support many times in my life, and I can’t say that it’s always been a pleasant experience. Over the years, I’ve discovered a few things that can make the experience less painful. The next time you need to make that call, here are some ways to assure it’ll go more smoothly.
Computers, routers, printers and, frankly, most electronic devices, can get buggy after long periods of use without a break. It never hurts to do a full system shut down and restart to see if that fixes the problem before you call tech support. Whenever I have trouble with my Internet connection, I make a point to cycle the modem and the router off and back on again before I call my ISP, and inevitably it’s one of the first things that the technician asks me to do. Might as well save us both some time.
While you’re at it, run through your repertoire of basic troubleshooting before you pick up the phone. If your computer is “acting strangely,” sometimes the simple answer is a virus or malware. Update your antivirus protection software and run a malware scan.
Once you’ve exhausted the steps you’re comfortable taking solo, collect your thoughts. First, grab a pen and paper and jot down some notes regarding the problem, being as specific as possible. The more detail you’re able to provide the tech support agent about the problem you’re having, the better they will be able to help you. Second, try to recreate the problem on demand, taking special notes of the steps that you take to do so. If you can say “my browser shuts down every time I click on this link over here,” for example, then tech support can start troubleshooting more easily.
Take some screenshots (hint: Windows users should press Ctrl+Prt Sc simultaneously to capture the image of your screen, then open Paint and paste the image). If getting a screenshot gives you a headache, you can use your phone to capture a picture of your computer if necessary.
ready for some tech support? talk to a nerd now!
You’re ready to pick up the phone. Take a deep breath. There’s nothing that can make me quite as frustrated as my computer misbehaving, but it’s totally uncool to take that anger and frustration out on the poor soul who answers the phone. It’s not their fault your computer is being a jerk today.
If you get stuck listening to hold music, set your phone down and put it on speaker while you’re watching a movie or reading a book. You’ve got all your notes next to you about the issue, so you don’t need to stew upon them if your hold time drags on.
A little kindness can go a long way. Once you get a tech service representative on the phone, pretend like you’re calling to order take out from your favorite restaurant instead of trying to puzzle through why you can’t get online. A friendly, non-confrontational start will go a long way toward establishing rapport and an environment where the person on the other end of the line wants to help you. Knowing you’re not going to scream at them the second they answer the phone may make them more likely to be attentive to you and the reason you’re calling.
Make sure you jot down the time and date of your call and the name of the representative who helped you early on in the conversation. Describe your problem as you’ve written down in your details. Listen closely to what they have to say. Ask lots of questions if you don’t understand the information they’re providing you. If you feel yourself getting frustrated, try to stay calm. You can be firm, and you should definitely stick to your convictions, but you can do so without yelling. Try to be civil, polite, and treat the person on the other end of the line with respect. They are a human being with feelings too.
At some point, you either get your problem resolved (yippee!) … or you have to escalate the call. Assuming it goes your way, don’t forget to thank the technician who helped you, and express your appreciation for their work, where appropriate. If you felt they went above and beyond, consider putting a word in for them with their supervisor in an email, or completing the little “how did I do?” survey after your call.
There are always times where your issue does not get resolved. There can be a number of reasons for this, and sometimes it’s as simple as not talking to the “right person” for the job. Every tech has his or her area of expertise, and maybe the person you’re talking to is not familiar enough with your particular issue to help you out with it. Don’t be afraid to ask to be transferred to another customer service representative, or escalate your call to a supervisor who can put you in touch with an expert.
About The Author: Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.