How to Call Tech Support


Introduction: How to Call Tech Support

I work in a Tech Support call center and have had it with many of the ridiculous calls that come in. There seems to be a total lack of common sense and basic phone etiquette pervading the United States.

This Instructable will help to make your support experience a little less painful for both you and the rep on the other end of the line.

Step 1: Don't Try to Fix It Yourself!

If you are uncomfortable with whatever device you are having issues with, please, for the love of everything holy, DO NOT TRY TO FIX IT! There are people who in most cases are highly trained and intimately familiar with the device or system who are paid to fix it for you. They have had plenty of experience with issues just like yours and usually have a quick and painless fix for it. Tinkering with something you are unsure about is sure to make the issue worse, or you could make a small problem evolve into an irreparable situation. That won't make either of us happy.

If, on the other hand, you have a degree of technical expertise and are comfortable* with the device, give it a go! I really do like it when you call in and can show me that you have a good head on your shoulders. Just don't get mad if I ask you to do something you have already tried.

*comfortable, in this case, does not mean you use it daily. I mean that you are able to configure system options or change the settings of the device without referring to the manual. Just because you can push buttons does not mean you know everything about it.

Step 2: Before You Call...

Here is a quick list of things to consider before you call that will make our experience much more enjoyable:

If English is not your first language, please consider letting someone else call me. You may be the owner of the business, but I can work with your employees just as well in most cases. If you need an interpreter, please ask. I am not allowed to suggest it.

Do you have all of the information I am going to need to help you? Usually I am going to need your name, or if you have been assigned one, customer identification number, the model of the device you need help with, the EXACT nature of your issue and what, if any, troubleshooting you have done. See step one first.

Did you do something to it? If you broke it, even on accident, be prepared for me to ask. It's OK, accidents happen. A lot of times, if you are cool with me and honest about it, I will not make a note stating that you did it, so it will still be covered under your warranty. If you are rude or lie to me and the troubleshooting we do shows that the issue is a result of your ineptitude, I will note the account as such and charge you for the replacement. I have that power.

Are you in front of the device you need help with? Please be as close as possible to your system so that we can troubleshoot it. I will need you to perform certain operations that may be complex or provide feedback that I will need you to relay to me. These operations may require fast responses that cannot be entered quickly enough when you are running to and fro. This is for your convenience as well, as I don't want to make you erode a path in the floor like a cartoon character going back and forth from the phone to your device.

Step 3: The Call...

OK, the time has come for you to call me. I am anxiously waiting for you on the other end of the line. You dial the number and input any information my call routing system asks you to put in and you get placed in queue. That's right, queue, also known as a line. There may be horrible music you are forced to listen to, not my idea, and I will get to you as soon as I help the other people that called in before you. They aren't following the rules, so their call is taking a little longer than yours will. Please, be calm and wait for your turn secure in the knowledge that you know how to work with me and won't take up as much of my time as these other people. Please don't make a list of what we are doing wrong to spout off to me as soon as I get on the line. I don't like being backed up any more than you like being on hold. I do care about you and the time you have to spend calling me. I also like to get a break every now and again, and I can't do that until I am out of queue.
While you are waiting, make sure you followed step 2 and you have everything we need.

Step 4: Now, It's Your Turn.

You have made it to the front of the line and I am about to answer. Please keep these rules in mind.

1. You will be greeted with a scripted greeting. I have no control over it. It may be longer than necessary, but I still have to recite it. DO NOT CUT ME OFF. Please wait until I have completed the greeting and asked you for your information before you speak.

2. After I get your information, it may take a few seconds before I can pull your account up. Please be patient. The computer system I am working with may be antiquated or difficult to navigate. I may be experiencing technical issues myself. It does happen from time to time. It is helpful if you wait until you are asked the nature of your issue before you start rattling off what has been going on for the last two weeks.

3. Unless you have been advised to, do not tell me what the previous rep did. I can see their notes. If I am asking you to do something different, it is because you are still having an issue and I may have a method that will fix the problem permanently.

4. Please follow all instructions and if the device provides you with any feedback, relay it to me. I will tire quickly of asking you repeatedly "What does the screen say?"

5. Do not argue with me. This is a big one. If what I tell you to do does not work, please gloat silently. I have other tricks up my sleeve. Usually there are several issues that share symptoms. I will be trying to fix the easiest or most common first and will progress down the line until I fix what is going on.

Step 5: IT'S DONE!!

Yay!! We have worked together and fixed your problem! Fantastic! Please say thank you. It's not much, but I appreciate it.



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    63 Discussions

    I am a paid member of the I would please like a refund. I am a smart friendly person. Yes I know this is not a dating site. The reason for the refund is because I spent, countless hours trying to find a some way of printing out the 8×8×8 diy LED kit. As of now I have given up trying to find it. I paid less then 12 hours ago. I am politely askind for a refund. I did not download the YouTube videos that I found on PLEASE And THANKS FOR THE HELP AT ANY RATE

    Good info. My only concern was the English barrier. I exactly agree but on the exact opposite. It's usually tech support with the issue.
    All that being said, actually hearing from a support member was helpful!
    Thank +)

    you can always say shibboleet...

    yay xkcd!

    lol when i was at school in my DT class i waited until the teacher left the room (he's really weird he just leaves for like 40min) and then took one of the old unused pc's and opened the case , working quickly i got 2 fans, usb hub, capacitors , cd drive with motor and laser, 3 other small motors and around 10 led's. then i clipped the case back together and put it behind the CNC machine, about 2 weeks later i saw him and our school tech-support guys standing around it and clicking all the buttons !! they looked like monkeys, none of them bothered to open it up so they just threw it out when it didn't work!!, later i took the whole thing home and got some other stuff :D many of you may say this was a waste but it was one of the old cream colored windows 98 pc's and everyone in our school apart from my year has laptops and theres like 100 pc's for 60 kids do it didn't matter :D

    1 reply

    Hmmm... I have to agree with some of the comments that this goes both ways. Being friendly to your tech support person does not help when said tech support person is incompetent.

    I had a nice rant on the differences between good and bad tech support all typed up when I remembered that this article article sums it up quite nicely.

    Basically, if the company you are calling doesn't meet any set of criteria close to those (along with the unstated prerequisite of not employing people as stupid as those at Verizon), following this advice simply isn't going to help you at all.

    It doesn't matter how nice you are, how insistent you are that the fan really is broken, that you'd replace it yourself if the connectors weren't proprietary, and that you'd be willing to pay for the damn thing if they would hurry up and let you order one, far too many tech support people will ask you to power cycle before being stumped and handing you off to someone else who will do exactly the same thing.

    Final nit to pick:
    If one tech support person transfers my call to another, why, oh, why does every piece of information the last person entered into his computer not automatically show up on the new person's screen? If they can pass your first name to the next person, why can they not pass on the 12-digit serial number inscribed in 8pt font on the bottom of your television?

    That's all fine and good, but there's a flip side to this. I'm a computer science major, and I routinely fix a variety of electronics that supposedly have no user serviceable parts inside. The only time I ever call tech support is when I've exhausted everything I can do on my end, and I need something done from their end. For example, I keep having issues with my Xbox Live downloads and their restrictive DRM ever since I had to replace my console. I call, wait on hold for 10 minutes, finally get a guy that barely speaks English, and then has no idea what I'm even calling about no matter how many times I explain it to him. Then I get shuffled around different departments for another 35 minutes (no, I'm not exaggerating, I was calling on my cellphone and the total call time was 46 minutes) while generally being treated like a complete moron ("Are you sure you have the game downloaded?" "You are? Well let's check anyway.") before being hung up on because they didn't know what to do. I've had the same issue with ISPs in the past when a traceroute clearly shows that a piece of equipment on their end won't let me out of their local network. It took 3 days for them to send a technician out, and then in 5 minutes he calls the office and tells them the same thing I did. So instead of posting a pithy little instructable, why don't you make sure that you and your coworkers treat people like human beings.

    ON the issue of scripts...some of it HAS to be scripted so it is not missed by the Support rep and for the sake of some unthinking customers: Techinician got to site to do repair: 14 year old daughter only left at home no adult you think the technician can enter the premisis ..NO he leaves...then customer calls back...why did'nt anyone tell me and Adult has to be home? Well I didnt read you the script. Customers please: Customers think support reps can see through the phone....what colour is my wire ?(yes the wire that never came from the company you are calling) Customers that are not honest up front in the call usually pay for it 2 ways...their problem doesnt get fixed and the call is 2x as long ...wasting both the reps time and theirs. Swearing at a rep accomplishes something very quickly....The rep is now looking for reasons to get you off the phone and NOT have your problem fixed (yes you will still get the 1/2 assed, what appears to you like troubleshooting , troubleshooting) Customers: If you want results....ask politely to speak to a supervisor....don't yell and scream, swear at the rep that just answered the phone about the last rep (And contrary to a previous post....IT DOESNT give you the right!)...If a rep is rude to you speak to a supervisor or Yes get curt with him/her. Customers: you get bad service....get the reps id and ask to speak to supervisor.....just dont go away....

    "harrow, dis be hassan wabadambadingdong from dell custoomer support, give me name now, or I leave. what? you broke compoooter? how you break? you bein soo stoopid! hit shift+q+right ctrl+enter, while typing hassanwabadambadingdonisgreat 5 tims, then hit window key, and it fix." uhh, dude, I just want to order a replacement power adapter!" "oooooo, ok, then instead of hassanwabadambadingdongisgreat, type, hassanwabadambadingdongisnotgoingtohelp, 7 time, then I order if I feel good." - Yes, the name has changed (but is equally crazy) but that is actually how one of my customer service went, it sucked, I hung up, and demanded to speak with a shift leader, or manager, and they just hung up on me. needless to say, I refuse to deal with dell anymore. no joke, i wish I had a recording of it.

    2 replies

    There name is always American even if they live in other countries."Hellro dis is Bill, howr can i elp yoou" LOL

    Outsourcing from india might seem like a problem for you, but for the indian, it is a godsend. being a support service-man, they earn way more than the national average salary, and can support their families better because of it. And it may not seem like it, but the indian person on the other end of the line had to take tons of english classes and accent classes. So, in other words, just be nice to the indian people on the other end of your lines, they try as hard as they can.

    7 replies

    And you got the impression that I wasn't nice...? How? I am always particularly nice, especially when someone is scripted... I have spent MANY hours trying to fix this problem and so have MANY tech supports.. Even when a young lady, accidentally blocked my connection for 2 weeks... No support tech was able to work it out, until about the twelth call when someone realised that all three, of the available receptions tower's had been physically blocked. (still paying I might add) My responce to this was... "Thankyou so much! Your a miracle worker! Have a wonderful day!" I then sent a prompt email, outlining how thankful I was to have it re-connected and what a great job Matt had done... "So, in other words, just be nice to the indian people on the other end of your lines, they try as hard as they can." Please don't just assume things... Perhaps you could take some of your own advice and use a uppercase i for the word Indian.

    That he took the time to recognize that tech is all. I help 25-50 people a day, and I never let them go unless we have the issue resolved, or I have sent the part needed to resolve the issue. But we only ever get told we are doing a good job once in a great while.

    Tainted conversation... As you can see, I removed my first post... It was not only ignorant, but very hurtfull... Please let this comment end now... Or I can, remove all my posts if that helps it die.... Thanks.. ;)

    She was noting your nice-ness towards the call peoples. Not the original comment. She confused me when she said "AWESOME!!!", and I asked her why, not trying to insult you or hurt you in any way shape or form. I hope you don't think that I am being mean or anything. I discuss and respond to comments. DON'T REMOVE YOUR POSTS!!!! It was a well played out argument.