How to Get the Quality Technical Support You Said You Want

What does a mother of two like me have to do with routers, modems, computers and networks (of course, aside from the obvious--I am using all of 'em right now)?  For almost five years, at 10 to 12 hours every day for 5 days per week, I talked or chatted with clients and also watched/monitored other agents doing the same. I have probably done this long enough to say that I have always fantasized telling the customer: "Damn, you're not right all the time!" and not be afraid to say it. The worst that can happen to me now is having my former supervisor write on my Facebook wall: "Crap. It's a shame you worked here but you have nothing to show for it."  

Customers are right to expect quality support but it doesn't mean they don't need to do anything at all to get it. At the very least, a customer should be prepared to help the technician do his job right. How? Let's look at the basic things you, as a customer, should be ready to do if you want technical support to work for you. 

Know your device. Buying a device and not knowing what it does aside from what the box says is like hiring a babysitter whose other skills you do not know (what if she can teach your three-year-old boy how to break-dance or juggle knives?). At least know the basics: what it does, where you can install it, how long can you get free technical support for it, etc).  In short, read the user manual.

Many customers complain about technicians who seem to be just reading the manual. In all honesty, ma'am/sir, yes, WE ARE (customer and tech together on the phone) READING THE MANUAL like it's a bedtime story book. Why? Because the user manual uses the most user-friendly words in the dictionary so that customers can understand it. If you have problems understanding technicians with the faintest accent or you have zero-tolerance for waiting on the queue then, please, do yourself a favor by reading the manual first before calling. 

(Actually, if all technicians will talk like they do in the tech lab or during technical training, I am sure more customers will complain.)

Take note of the serial number and model number before calling. Think of the SN as your device's social security number and the model number as its complete name. Your technician will definitely ask this info. Much time is wasted on customers looking for these things (going on all fours under the desk or climbing up a ladder to reach for wall-mounted devices) and trying to figure out which is which. Aside from checking the device itself, you can also check the SN and model number on the receipt or invoice. Write them on a sticker that you can put on your computer as soon as you receive your devices. Be ready to give them when you call.

I promised to be a better customer
the day I became a call  center agent
Be prepared to deal with (necessary) redundancy. I used to freak out when a credit card rep asks for my card number again after I carefully pressed those same damn numbers on the phone. And then, one day, I pressed the wrong number. Not only a few agents have encountered a customer who spelled her name like this: C like creep, H like hell, R like rot, I like idiot and S like stupid. If your tech is amused, you're lucky. Otherwise, expect the call to go downhill as the technician tries to deal with visions of wringing your neck with the phone cord and pretending to love fixing your gadget. 

Remember, given the difficulties of communicating using two different versions of English, practices such as using phonetics and asking you to confirm what has been provided already are for your own good. Don't ask how many technicians would like to skip these preliminary steps if only QA is not breathing down their necks like dragons to make sure they do it within the shortest time possible. 

You may also want to check if chat support is available for your device. Since you will be filling out forms on the manufacturer's website, some of the initial questions will not be asked.  Another option is remote technical support which reduces troubleshooting time significantly.

Be as specific as possible when describing your problem. Some customers simply say their devices must have stopped working and then they leave it to the technician to probe them about what really happened. There's nothing wrong with this specially for customers who really do not have any idea what's going on. If you are this type of customer, be ready to answer more follow-up questions or give a better description of your problem. Here are some things your technician would like to know (depending on the problem and device, of course):
  • LEDs: On? Off? Blinking? Red?
  • Connection: Wired? Wireless? 
  • Status: Initial setup? Working before?
  • Computer: Laptop? PC?
You may also give your thoughts on what may have caused the problem. It's okay as long as you are willing to listen to what the technician will offer as explanation.

If you are a technically advanced customer, your technician will appreciate your efforts to solve the problem before calling and being patient with answering preliminary questions that are necessary to get your call or session going. As long as your expectations are reasonable, your encounter with the technician will definitely be brief and trouble-free. It could even be something that can make your technician's day better after attending to more than one customer from hell.

In a nutshell, regardless of your technical level, your technician will need your help to do his job more effectively and efficiently. Do not forget that his diagnosis and solution will depend on your answers to his questions. You will be his eyes and hands to get the job done and to give the quality technical support you said you want.

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