How to Get the Most out of Your Tech Support Calls: Part One, Basic Self-Troubleshooting

IT Calling

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This article is the first article in a series entitled “How to Get the Most out of Your Tech Support Calls,” and aims to provide information to help you have the best conversation you can with your technicians, so that you can get your problem solved right the first time.

Imagine this. It’s Monday afternoon. You’ve been happily working on an important report all morning, but when you get back from lunch, you notice that your computer is acting weird. You attempt to reopen the report to finalize a few things, when an error message appears on the screen. Great, now you have one more thing to squeeze into the day’s busy schedule – talking to tech support.

Don’t just pick up the phone and call tech support first thing. There are some very important, but basic self-troubleshooting steps you should take,

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before you even attempt to call a technician.

Often you can fix simple issues using these steps, whether the problem is occurring on your computer, printer, cell phone, or some other device.

Reboot Your Device

Many times, a simple reboot will fix whatever problem you’re having. If it’s your computer that’s the issue, restart it by going to Start > Shutdown > Restart. For other devices with operating systems, like your cell phone or tablet, attempt to reboot them using the proper restart protocol for the device.

For printers or other simple devices, locate the power switch and turn the item off. Once the item is off, do not turn it on immediately. Instead, count to ten, and then turn the device on. Giving it a few seconds like this ensures the device is completely powered down before you turn it back on.

If your problem is internet related, attempt to figure out if the problem is with one particular site, or all sites. If you cannot access anything online, try power cycling (rebooting) your router and modem by unplugging the power from the back of the device for 10 or 15 seconds.

Check Batteries

If your problem is with a wireless device, such as a mouse or keyboard not working, try swapping out the batteries. With devices being more energy efficient now days, it’s often difficult to remember the last time you changed the batteries. So eliminate any doubt by swapping them out for fresh ones to see if that solves the problem.

Swap out the Device

When possible, try swapping out the broken device for a known working one to see if it makes a difference. If it does not, try your potentially broken item on a different machine to see if it works there.

Doing this will tell you a few things. First, if the device doesn’t work on a second computer, it’s the device that is broken and needs to be replaced. If the device works just fine on the second computer, it’s probably your computer that is having the problem.

Either way, swapping devices like this is one of the fastest ways to determine which item is causing the problem.

Try to Figure out the Cause

If a simple reboot doesn’t fix the issue, attempt to figure out the cause. Does the problem always occur after a particular action? If so, when you skip that action (if possible) does the problem still occur? Is it possible to skip the action that causes the problem and still perform the tasks you need to?

Attempting to determine the cause will not only help to pinpoint what is creating the issue, but may also highlight a possible work around that will enable you to keep working, until you actually have time to sit on the phone with tech support.

Typically, if the problem isn’t a serious one, any of the self-troubleshooting steps above will help resolve the issue. If not, then it’s time to call tech support. Just remember when you call to tell them the things you’ve already tried, to avoid having to try those steps again.

Stay tuned for How to Get the Most Out of Your Tech Support Calls, Part Two: Gathering Information Before You Call.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you get the most out of your

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