Technology is a wonderful thing! It enables us to stay connected to our loved ones, keep all manner of information at our fingertips, and stay constantly entertained. But when it doesn’t work properly, it can be very frustrating! Getting the help you need can seem absolutely impossible, because sometimes it seems like the people who know how to fix your equipment and services speak an entirely different language, or their job is to do something other than to actually help you. You can get angry, but that isn’t likely to get things working right again. It makes much more sense to release the anger and focus on getting the help you need.

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Make sure you’re contacting the right people. Generally, if your cell phone isn’t working, you call your cell phone company, right? (Well, maybe. You might need to call your cell service provider, and you might need to call your cell phone manufacturer.) If your internet connection isn’t working, you call your internet provider. If your wireless network isn’t working, you call whoever provided or set up the wireless router (often the internet provider). The fact that you bought something at a particular store doesn’t mean you should call that store for technical support. In fact, you probably shouldn’t, unless you also bought a technical support subscription from them. You need to call whoever made the item—the publisher of the software or the manufacturer of the hardware. If you’re talking about Kaspersky Internet Security, then you call Kaspersky. If your problem is with Microsoft Office, you contact Microsoft. If your problem is with a Hewlett Packard printer, call Hewlett Packard. You might have bought all of the above at Office Depot, but that doesn’t mean you can get support for them from Office Depot. (Or you could, if you bought tech support from them, but I wouldn’t generally recommend it if you can help it.)

What You Need

Next, gather the information you need to give to whomever you’re going to contact.

  • Take a few minutes to get your thoughts on the exact problem you’re having clear. Write them down. Be precise. “It doesn’t work” isn’t going to be helpful to anyone. Neither is anything using the words “thing,” “stuff,” or “whatchamacallit” prominently. Be as descriptive as you possibly can.
  • Deal with one issue per call. Do not wait until you have a laundry list of problems and then call expecting the technician to fix your email, set up your printer, teach you how to use your word processor, and get your MP3 files shared across your network. That’s rude.
  • If you’re seeing any error messages, write them down as completely as possible. Take a screenshot of them if you can.
  • Take note of what you’re doing when the errors occur. Don’t rely on your memory, because trust me, things will get blurry after you’ve waited on hold for a support person. Write down notes, like, “Tried to play video on CNN. Got error message and Internet Explorer closed.”
  • Have any account credentials that might be needed on hand. If you’re calling because your internet connection or wireless network isn’t working properly, you should have your router’s administrative login name and password and your wireless network name and password on hand, as well as your internet account name and password. (Why yes, all three of those are usually different. If you didn’t set up the router, the person who DID set it up should have left you that information.)

Time to Call!

Now, get ready to make your call.

  • Make sure you have the equipment that’s being troublesome available, and you aren’t busy doing anything else with it. If the problem is on your computer, don’t start a big download or anything like that while you’re on hold. Most certainly don’t make a VOiP call using said computer to the tech support line! If the problem is with your cell phone, call from a different phone. If the problem is with your printer, have it turned on and connected to your computer with the ink cartridges and paper in place.
  • Whatever device you’re having trouble with, if data is stored on it and there’s any way possible to back it up before calling the support line, do so. I mean it. Even if you have to look up how to back it up, and it takes a long time, backing it up is worth the time.
  • If you aren’t always connected to the internet, go ahead and get connected, because the agent might ask you to look at something online, or she might want to get connected to your computer remotely.
  • Remember the notes you made about what’s going on? Have them handy.

No, the support tech doesn’t have time to wait for you to gather the above after you call, because they are graded and paid based on how long their calls last. They can’t say that to you, but it’s the truth. Please don’t ask.

Write It All Down

Take notes. Write down the name of the support technician, any case numbers (if you aren’t given one, ask!), and any instructions you’re given. Make sure you can find those notes later, and that they’re legible. That might save you further calls in the future.

Paying attention to the information above will make your support experiences far more effective and pleasant than they were in the past.