7 Ways to Make Tech Support Calls Less Painful

Wednesday Dec 2nd 2009 by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

There are ways to work more effectively with any tech support agent – or escalate your call to a higher-level agent.

It’s a fact of life that having to call the tech support line when a piece of hardware or software goes wrong can be a torturous experience. It can make seconds feel like millennia and can make having teeth pulled with no anesthetic seem like a pleasant proposition.

But tech support calls don’t have to be painful. Well, OK, maybe it does, but there are ways that you can make calling tech support lines somewhat less painful.

Here are my top tips based on having called a LOT of tech support lines over the years:

1) Get your ducks lined up before you call!

Before you even think about picking up the phone to call tech support, make sure you have all the information you need about your hardware or software ready in advanced. The list of information that you might need varies from product to product, but here are generalized lists for hardware and software:


• Model name and/or number

• Serial number

• Any firmware updates installed

• Approx date of purchase

Software: < P> • Software name and version

• Any add-ons/service packs installed

• Platform it’s installed on (OS version, service pack, etc.)

Write this stuff down – don’t rely on memory or guessing.

If you don’t have this information on hand before you make the call, you’ll be flustered during the call – and likely frustrate the tech support agent you’re talking to.

2) Know your problem

As well as has having all the information about your hardware/software written down, make sure that you also make detailed notes about your problem. Again, do this in advance of the call and make sure you try to remember everything that might be relevant.

A few suggestions:

• Description of the problem

• When does the problem happen?

• What steps can you follow to reproduce the problem?

• Can you always replicate the problem or it is intermittent?

• Details of any error messages displayed

Oh, and – again – write it down. If you try to recite the problem you’re having from memory, unless it’s a really simple problem, you’ll forget something vital.

I’d also suggest doing a few Web searches relating to the problem … who knows, you might find an answer to your problems without having to connect with a tech support agent!

3) Make the call … or not

It’s easy to think that all tech support has to be done over the phone. That’s not the case. Most companies offer a variety of ways for customers with tech problems to get in touch, such as:

• Email

• Text chat

• Forum-based support

For some people, text-based support can be better because it offers a record of what was said, and any instructions are easily available for future reference.

If you’re easily flustered on the phone, or the problem isn’t urgent, then using a text-based support method might be a better option for you.

4) Make notes!

Not only do you need to make notes before you make that call, but you should have a pen in hand while you’re on that call.

Start off by noting the date and time of your call – very important if you need to make follow-up calls. Also, make a note of the names of any support agents you talk to. Get them to repeat their name if you missed it.

Then make notes of everything the tech support agent wants you to do. I find that doing this even when I’m actually carrying out the steps while on the phone is helpful. It allows me to focus my mind on the job and make sure that I’m clear on each thing I’m doing.

There’s another upside to making notes during your tech support call – if you have suffer a similar problem in the future, you’ll know how to fix it!

5) If at first you don’t succeed …

…Try, try again!

I’ve found that one way to make support calls less irritating and frustrating is to simply…put the phone down and try again.

Bad line? Hang up and try again! Can’t understand the support agent? Hang up and try again! Not getting along with the support agent? Hang up and … well, you get the drift.

Same goes if your problem’s not been fixed. Try again. If the support tech tries to get you to carry out the same procedure again, politely explain that that this has already been tried and didn’t work the last time you tried it. Don’t just blindly listen to the other person. Be proactive in getting your problem solved.

6) Escalate

If you really feel that you’re not getting anywhere with the tech support agent (or agents) that you’re talking to, you might consider having your call escalated to a supervisor or manager.

No, it doesn’t guarantee that your problem will be solved any quicker, but it’s a card worth keeping up your sleeve for those occasions when you feel you aren’t getting anywhere.

7) Don’t lose your temper

Don’t, no matter how wound up or frustrated you feel, give in to your temptation to lose your temper with the person on the other end. Not only is this rude (remember, it’s a human being on the other end of the line) and counterproductive (you’re wasting your time), but it can work against you big time.

Telephone operators are trained in techniques to deal with awkward callers.

If you start getting emotional, don’t be surprised if you find yourself on hold for eternity, transferred back and forth between departments or black-holed totally.

So remain calm. If you feel yourself starting to lose it, better to hang up the phone, take a little while to calm down and try again later.

Remember, both you and the person on the other end of the phone want to get your problem solved as quickly as possible!

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