Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
How many IT techs does it take to change a lightbulb? None, you didn’t submit a help desk ticket for it.
Why does it seem so difficult to get good help from your IT help support these days? Do you feel like you get treated like you’re stupid, or like the person on the other end of the phone is annoyed because you called the help line?
There are a lot of reasons for a bad experience when you’re dealing with tech support. Some of those situations may be due to the personality of the support team member taking the call, but even in those cases, you can greatly improve the likelihood of a good experience if you handle yourself a certain way while making the IT support call.
We’ve covered IT tech support a few times at MakeUseOf, such as how to start an online tech support business, or support tools you can use to help out your family or friends with PC issues. From the user perspective, we had Jack Cola explaining where you can find useful tech support websites, and Matt Hughes discussing what to do if you’ve falling for an IT support scam,
But what do you do when you’re dealing with your own company’s IT support team, and you just want your problem fixed quickly? The following tips can help.
1. Don’t Blame the Help Desk Technician
According to Logicalis, the IT service desk employee turnover rate is roughly 40 percent. That means almost half of every tech person that decides to take a job helping people like you solve their technical problems end up quitting that job in short order.
Why? Well, one of the biggest reasons is that people who are having a tech problem tend to take out their frustrations on the first person who answers the phone at the IT help desk.
The fastest way to get that IT person interested in helping you solve your problem as quickly as possible is by not blaming them for whatever is going wrong. Even if what’s wrong is the system you need to do your job is down, you need to understand that the person you’re talking to is not usually directly responsible for maintaining that system. They just answer the phone and try to figure out how to help you – so don’t get angry with the person who wants to help you!
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Admit You Don’t Understand
Asking for help is difficult. Admitting that you don’t understand something even more so. The irony here is that if you don’t admit that you don’t understand something, it’s that much harder for the IT tech person to help you understand.
This is especially important if the IT person is explaining things to you step-by-step over the phone, and you don’t say anything if there’s a specific step you don’t understand. If you wait until step 10 to inform the person that you’re still stuck at step 2, you’ve not only wasted everyone’s time, but now the support tech will have walk you all the way through the same steps again!
Trust me, IT support folks are well-trained to explain things as simply as possible, depending on the level of understanding that the user has. Unless you explain that you are very new to computers and don’t know very much, the tech support person may assume you know more than you do, so as not to insult you. Be clear upfront what your extent of tech knowledge, and the call will go much more smoothly.
3. You Can Ask For Someone Else
There are really bad tech support workers out there. We’ve all had some dealings with them. Even having almost two decades of tech experience and understanding the difficulties tech support staff face, I’ve even come across some support folks who are just horrible at troubleshooting problems over the phone.
They may just have poor troubleshooting skills, or a very bad phone personality. It happens – especially with such a high-turnover rate, it can be hard for some companies to hire premium tech support.
Don’t be afraid to ask for someone else. You don’t even have to have a confrontation, just say something like, “I’m sorry, but I’m just having difficulty working with this style of troubleshooting, is it okay if I work with someone else who may be available?”
If the person still gives you difficulty, or refuses to transfer your call, hang up and call back. You’re likely to receive a new help desk agent. If you get the same person – common for a company that’s short-staffed – then it’s time to just ask to talk to the manager. It’s best to explain the issue so the company can replace that support agent quickly. You certainly aren’t the only person having that bad experience.
4. Don’t Leave Out the Details
One of the most common problems that IT support agents have to deal with is when people who call are not completely forthcoming about what events led up to the problem. You may think that all you have to tell the support person is that your keyboard isn’t working, and eventually they’ll fix the problem. If you leave out the fact that you spilled coffee all over the keyboard, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice.
What a technician will do is work through a troubleshooting procedure that includes checking the cable connections, checking the USB port, checking the control panel settings for your keyboard, and probably other checks. Why waste your time and the technicians time when you know perfectly well that the most likely cause is the spilled coffee?
This is a simplified (and silly) example, but even in other cases – maybe you uninstalled some software and a USB device stopped working, maybe you dropped your computer and now the hard drive is making a strange sound. Share all of the details so that the technician can jump right to troubleshooting the most likely cause of your issues. You’ll save lots of time that you can use to go get yourself another cup of coffee.
5. Laugh a Little
I can tell you from experience that IT help desk agents hear from disgruntled people all day long. These people are usually frustrated, complaining, and unhappy. Imagine how refreshing it must be for that help desk agent to hear someone who’s actually happy on the other end of the phone – someone who cracks a joke or makes light of the situation.
Not only is it refreshing, but it will more than likely inspire the tech support agent to work that much harder to solve your problem quickly.
Trust me, they will be so grateful for your positive attitude, that they’ll ask what else they can do for you – and they’ll be more than happy to stay on the phone with you as long as possible. Because the odds are pretty good that the next caller they have to deal with won’t have the wonderful personality that you do.
In the end, a call to your IT tech support can be a positive or a negative experience. As you can see, there are plenty of things that you can do to improve your odds of having a good call. Try them – you’ll be pleasantly surprised how well they work.
Image credits: Female Service Rep via Sean Locke at Shutterstock, Coffee spilled via Paket at Shutterstock, Grumpy Customer Service via Andy Dean at Shutterstock, Unhappy businesswoman via lightwavemedia at Shutterstock, Crazy businessman via Arman Zhenikeyev at Shutterstock