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How To Get Good Help from Tech Support

Greg Schiestl |

No one really wants to have to contact Technical Support. It’s better if things (i.e. software, or technical devices) just work. However, the reality is that issues come up—and sometimes it’s just necessary to get a better understanding of a feature or problem.

Below are some pointers, based on our experience, on how to receive the quickest and most efficient help that really solves your issue.

Asking for assistance

When contacting product support to ask for help, you may not know what information to provide. Too little or too much data can drag out the troubleshooting process.

Try to always have this information ready, as a baseline:

  • Product name (many companies provide different products)
  • Any error message text received
  • The section of the software you’re having trouble with (For example, in ExakTime Connect you could say “Reports”)
  • If available, serial number on any hardware items with issues
  • If something was functioning in the past, the last time it worked correctly

Being specific about a problem (i.e. when it started) can help eliminate outlier possibilities. For example, stating “My light won’t turn on” provides an idea of what the problem is. But starting the help request with “My light won’t turn on and it was working yesterday” allows the support representative to more quickly focus in the correct place.

Stating “My light won’t turn on, it last worked yesterday, and I’ve check both of the light switches that normally affect it” might help your support assistant even further. This provides even more direction on what needs to be looked into.

By providing this type of data, you’re actually removing the first few steps of troubleshooting.

Troubleshooting

Now that you’ve expressed the basic problem, it’s time for the fun bit of back-and-forth we call troubleshooting!

For a technician to get to the bottom of an issue they have to eliminate possibilities until they home in on exactly what the problem is, or what you are trying to accomplish. That’s why in most cases the process of troubleshooting will take longer than implementing the fix itself.

So don’t get frustrated if the support representative asks questions that seem obvious: they’re just trying to start from the beginning to make sure they target the right issues. Just because A and B occurred does not mean that A caused B, and assuming so can lead down the wrong path and waste time—so it’s best to confirm as many pieces of information as possible.

Keeping your expectations real

Accurate troubleshooting relies on a deep understanding of the product’s expected functionality. With this, the support representative will form a mental hypothesis based on expected outcome and refine it as they ask questions and gather data. They will also need to recognize and exclude any irrelevant data that comes up.

Sometimes troubleshooting doesn’t actually produce a true resolution, but instead provides a workaround until the core cause of the issue can be fixed. This is because some unforeseen issues require developers to change the software itself and may take additional time.

Even with my extensive knowledge of the details of our own products I still learn new things about them from time to time. In every one of those cases it’s because I reach out with questions hoping to expand my understanding.

A virtual virtue

The most important part of troubleshooting and resolving issues is patience on both sides.

We know software issues are frustrating, because we have them, too. As long as you keep in mind that feedback from customers is part of the process of perfecting the software, then we’ll both approach the situation with the right attitude and get you back to work quickly, and without a hitch!

Author Profile Picture

Product Support Supervisor Greg Schiestl started as a support specialist with ExakTime over 10 years ago. He has spent his career at ExakTime advocating to improve our products to best help our customers and working to improve the support our team provides each and every day. Greg is an avid board gamer and jogger.

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