Picture of 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.
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Step 1: Don't try to fix it yourself!

Picture of Don't try to fix it yourself!
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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.
mblack33 years ago
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 +)
hintss4 years ago
you can always say shibboleet...

yay xkcd!
=SMART=6 years ago
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
hintss =SMART=4 years ago
coolz6 years ago
who do you work for?
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?
Nephus7 years ago
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.
netxtc7 years ago
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.
There name is always American even if they live in other countries."Hellro dis is Bill, howr can i elp yoou" LOL
It's because their names are a million characters long.
Lftndbt7 years ago
Tried this... Internet StiLL won't connect properly... :(
MattBurch1579 (author)  Lftndbt7 years ago
Seems to be working now. Anything else I can do for you sir?
(removed by author or community request)
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.
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.
how is that awesome??
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.
you all do a great job :) except for the ones that charge for extra parts lol.
Wow, i didn't know that comment would tick you off so bad... Please just don't assume things... well, aren't you just assuming that they don't try as hard as they can??? And i don't think that not capitalizing the i in indian is such a big insult. Indian...Happy???
"... well, aren't you just assuming that they don't try as hard as they can???" Sorry? Where did you pull that from? Please Quote I know all to well of benefit's, resulting in outsourcing to countries like India... Both my Indian sponcer children have parents/relative. Working in telecommunication's.. And believe me not ALL centre's are so well trained/paid... e.g .. Neither child was able to attend school, even with this "support" Perhap's instead of outsourcing to India to increase profit's... They could outsource to India to "support" the economy... Not to exploite it... So it is not your comment that has "ticked" me off, but the generalized ignorance, that the rest of the world is being a "god send". They are not, they are looking to exploite a already vunerable economy... And yes if you through a homeless person that has NO money $5, then that is like a fortune to him.... Doesn't mean you should make them work for it though...
Last Paragraph, first and second sentences.
Rrrrrr ok.... That did not make sense.... I was saying "please don't assume i'm not nice to people" Not "please don't just assume they are trying as hard as they can" I was slightly offended you thought I was rude... Which I certainly try not to be!
you don't seem rude.
and to answer your quote question,""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..."
btw, india video
and i didn't say that you should make them work for it. And i'm not saying that the rest of the world is a godsend, i'm just saying that the call taking job in india pays five times as much as the average job. and if i was getting paid five times the amount of a normal salary, that would be a godsend to me.
The original comment that got me started was "Nice to see someone not from india", which to me, makes it look like they are a nusiance, which is what gave me the impression that you were'nt being nice to the call people.
And i totally agree that they are exploiting a vonurable economy. they should pay more. but for right now, it's all they got until the US companies actually feel like paying a decent salary. Face it, american businesses are tight-arses. But then again, would you rather pull the american businesses out of india and have all those people loose their jobs??? That would leave millions jobless, and if and when they got another job, they would most likely earn less.
If you have talked to a couple of techs and still have issues, politely ask for a supervisor.
This is one of my hot buttons. I work in a call center as well, this is stuff that we really do appreciate. and as he said, we do have the power. I've talked to people that have been so rude, or refused to do what I asked, that I've charged for parts when I could have just as easily sent them for free. Remember, if you work with customer's, treat the people that help you how you want to be treated. We have the power to keep you on the phone for hours, or try to get you fixed as soon a possible. If you call in ranting and raving, expect the tech to get her revenge. Also, I work in the US, and I am not robot.
You can actually charge people for parts? I think that has been done to my stepdad, he has a short temper for tech support (even though he is asking them for help). BTW, I was wondering, how much do tech support people make?
MattBurch1579 (author)  Doctor What7 years ago
I am paid pretty well, but I have the degrees to justify it.
You have to have degrees to become a tech support person?? And how much in Ks.
Yeah, I kinda figured that it wasn't to terribly fun. I was just curious. BTW, I like dorky cubicle gadgets and USB powered crap from china. And you sound like you don't like your boss. You mentioned "her". Not him/her or the usual him. Sounds like you need a change of scenery.
Why do you guys have the oldest, crappiest equipment? My work computer is 9 years old, yet I can still pull stuff up quicker than a hi-tech support center.
If I have given my info 6 times already, shouldn't you have it by the time you pick up the line?

Did I have you on a call last week?
Think of it this way, your computer on your network. Not that big.
My computer on the call center's network that is running somewhere around 2400+ users at anyone time. That is Big.
No matter what kind of equipment you have, there is always going to be a spike in the network and pulling up info could be slow for a little bit.

As for the info you gave the last guy. You phone call (read voice) came through the line. Words don't display on a head set. One day yes it will. Until then, remember we are trying to help. If you need to repeat yourself a few times then that is what you have to do. The guy answering the phone is trying to get you to the guy who answers the phone for the department you are trying to get to.
MattBurch1579 (author)  hothmob7 years ago
don't forget the DB queries that are being processed and the additional apps running on the network. Thousands of queries per hour = slow responses.
MattBurch1579 (author)  hothmob7 years ago
OK uber-user. I will make sure I charge you for everything I can when you call in. I really can't stand guys like you. If tech support is soooo crappy, and you are a master of network protocol, then you don't need my help. Please, don't call me.
MattBurch1579 (author)  hothmob7 years ago
And you will be the one we bill. I don't like you.
Doctor What7 years ago
Great advice, i frequently have problems with my dish, and i have to call in alot. The only problem with this instructable is the pics. whats the cow for??
MattBurch1579 (author)  Doctor What7 years ago
I wasn't able to comment them. The cows are for an explanation of close and far away.
If you go back you should be able to comment now. Give it a try. Thanks
MattBurch1579 (author)  joejoerowley7 years ago
Done and done! Thx!
Sure, anytime at Joe's tech support that would $22.39. Crash, credit or debt. jk :)
It seems that there is a glitchy-buggy thing with the instructable maker, you have to save your instructable, then go back. it takes a while to go through all the pics, because you have to save, then go back.
cubemonkey7 years ago
Also remember, if you are a jerk, and incompetent, we will be making fun of you after we get off the call. Or sometimes while we are on the call, alot of places have MUTE buttons.
callmeshane7 years ago
Tech support??? I am so smart I even give the head of Microsoft in Australia a run for his money - much less the entire department...... Ummmm outsourced call centers, where almost all the people read from scripts? Ummm....... How about when it comes time to buy a new and expensive product with warranty, I ask, "Is the service department located in Australia?" No??? Ummmm given that tech support ranges from the occasionally brilliant to the really awful and the lack of hands on training and backed up by people who only recite crap by rote from a computer screen - I think that I shall only buy a product that is supported by technically qualified and locally employed staff..... Goodbye.
callmeshane7 years ago
Motorcycle Spares Dept: Woman rings up and says she needs a part for her husbands motorcycle. Sales guy asks, "What sort of motorcyle is it?" Woman replies, "It's a red one".
Here Here. Just wish I could email this link to some of my customers.
NachoMahma7 years ago
. Fantastic! . I've found it helpful to go ahead and immediately let the Support Tech know my level of competence, whether it be high or low. If I have a good idea of what's going on, I'll say so and give a quick outline of the the troubleshooting I've done before calling. If I've got a good Tech (one that actually knows the product and is not just following a flowchart), this can save a LOT of time. If I am totally lost/ignorant, I'll 'fess up and we can start from the beginning. . > ... 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 ... I have that power. . ROFL This is oh so true. I've had more than one Support Tech save my butt by conveniently forgetting to note that _I_ caused the problem.
MattBurch1579 (author)  NachoMahma7 years ago
Mostly we are there to help you and we do care. There is a small minority that just hate their job and couldn't care less.
No offense but I think when ever I call I get that small minority that just hate their job. Hopefully I will get a nice person such as your self next time I call.
crapflinger7 years ago
two more for the support caller and one for the support provider for the caller: if you're an advanced user, ask for your call to be escalated to the next tier of service...the person that answers the phone is at the bottom rung of the support ladder and GENERALLY only knows how to follow his/her support script....escalating your call will speed the process up for the support provider: if a user calls in and says they are an "advanced user"...stop asking if they plugged the damned thing in....i spent 2 hours on the phone with dell a few years ago (before i knew the escalate trick) because i had a dead PSU...the guy on the other end of the line couldn't get past the part of his script about "is the computer plugged in? whate happens when you press power? does machien boot up to bios?" no buddy....the PSU is dead just send me a new one!
But you have to understand, that they can't send you a new one, until they rule out every possible problem. People can say they tried all the simple things, but if they send you a new one, when the problem was actually just that the power bar wasn't switched on, they're out all that money. Instead of insisting that you are too advanced to put up with that, maybe you should just go a long with it, and quickly answer the problems so that you can get to the real tech support faster.
MattBurch1579 (author)  Weissensteinburg7 years ago
Yes. Please see step 4, Rule 5.
MattBurch1579 (author)  crapflinger7 years ago
You would be suprised at some of the "advanced users". A lot of times, something they say they already tried mysteriously works when I get them to try it with me on the phone.
Escalate trick? Please, do tell. I work in IT for a company that has tons of Dell PCs, and every time a component needs to be replaced I have to go through the whole song and dance to get the support person to come to the same conclusion.
T4RIQ7 years ago
Hi, in some threads i cant seem to view the video...any idea y?
i say to post a question about it in the forums. more people will see it, and you should get helped faster.
bluemandrew7 years ago
My biggest pointer is be respectful. We in tech support know we can make your life hell. We will use that power if you are rude or abusive. You can be upset, but don't make it personal...
Great instructable. I really found it interesting that you can't suggest a translator.
snoyes7 years ago
Specific nouns, rather than general pronouns, are vital. I can't see your screen, so I don't know what "it" is that has just started blinking or turned yellow or caught fire. Experienced users know the terminology, so they can give a succinct and accurate description which contains the bare facts. Everyone else needs to tell a story. "It doesn't work" is not a story. "Normally, I push this round button and it glows green and my screen comes on. Today I pushed it and it glows green, but my screen doesn't show" is a good story. Remember those 5 W's you had to learn way back when? There was a reason for those. WHO usually uses the system, WHAT happened today, WHEN did the problem start, WHY is the behavior different, WHERE did the coke spill, etc. - the faster you can paint a detailed picture of the problem, the faster support can help you resolve it.