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.