Grundig IT Newsletter
Computing News That You Can Use – January 2021
How to Ask For Technical Support: Getting The Most Efficient Resolution
Quote of the Month: “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
– Winston Churchill
Unsurprisingly, in our line of work, we have a lot of requests for technical support. It’s our job to help and fix things, and we want you back on your feet and working as efficiently as possible. There’s a method to solving these problems, and there’s a method to asking for help with them. This article is about the latter: How you can make your computer fix as fast as possible, whether asking for help from a friend or sending support tickets to a company.
Some people feel that it’s not their job to do any information gathering for the tech support. After all, they’re the one in trouble! They might be asking a friend for help, and that friend is the expert, they should know how to find the answers. They might be speaking to their company’s IT department, and those fine fellows are getting paid to solve the problem. Nevertheless, there are ways that you can help the person who is helping you.
Often, a tech support call starts with only the most basic of information: “Hey, my Word documents aren’t printing properly.” Or, “My emails are slow.” There is some important information that you can give us up-front. Otherwise, we will probably still ask you for the same information later. The important part is taking a moment to think about everything you do know, and have the information provided or ready in case we need it.
What is wrong?
The most basic of questions, admittedly. The more information you give us initially, the better. It will help us figure out how long the problem will be to fix. It will help us know what we’ll be looking at and it will help us who to use to examine the problem.
We also need to know if the problem is constant or sporadic. “My email doesn’t work at all” means a lot more trouble than “sometimes my emails fail to send or are not always received, and other times they work fine”. Is the problem easily repeatable? Can you just click a few buttons to demonstrate exactly what happened, or will we need to dig around testing numerous different scenarios until the problem finally shows up again?
When and how did this occur?
Tied into what’s wrong, tell us how the problem showed up. More specific is better. ‘Email issues’ could be Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft, ATT; they could be using chrome web interfaces, iPhone mail protocols, Microsoft Outlook, or the default Windows Mail app.
Timing is surprisingly important, as well. If something started that morning, we want to know. If it’s been going on for a while, we’ll want to know.
Specific actions might also be important – a printing error could be a problem with the printer, with the web browser you’re trying to print from, or from the command you’re using to print. Did you use the print command from the dropdown File menu, or hit the printer button on your toolbar, or even hit a link on a webpage that says ‘CLICK here to print’?
Did anything change before this?
Similar to the time things occurred, we want to know what changed on your system if it was working before. Did you get a new printer, and now printer errors are occurring? Did a recent OS update reboot your computer and now it can’t connect to the internet? Did your application download an update for itself and suddenly it can’t save files anymore? This is a question that is very important and a lot of people don’t think about. If it was working, and now it is not, what changed?
What are the error messages, if any?
An obvious sign that something is wrong is the error messages. Don’t just grab a few important-sounding words from a message and send it to the support. “Hey, I got an html error on my email,” doesn’t really tell us that much. Get the whole message if you can. Take a photo on your phone. Use your computer’s screenshot functions if you can. It’ll take a copy of the screen and you can paste it into an image file or document.
Have you tried anything to fix it?
This question is also important. What did you try to solve the problem? It can help us narrow down issues and make sure we don’t re-tread on previous work. Did you reboot your computer? Did you reinstall the program? Have you tried saving as a different file type or printing to a different printer? If this is a frequent problem, have you discovered a way to work around it?
These may feel like a long list of things to think about, but you don’t really need to write out an essay just to ask someone for help. There’s a good chance that we’ll be asking you these questions anyway, so it is good to already think about them when contacting support.
Tom Grundig – 925.528.9081