This article is the second 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. Click here to read the first article in the series, How to Get the Most out of Your Tech Support Calls: Part One, Basic Self-Troubleshooting.


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Imagine this. It’s still Monday afternoon, and you still can’t open that important report you need to finish. You’ve already tried your self-troubleshooting steps, which didn’t really help, so you’ve determined that you really do need to call tech support.

However, it’s still not time to pick up the phone. Before you even think about talking to anyone, you should spend a few moments gathering your thoughts, and other important information, so that you don’t have to go digging for it later when you actually have the tech on the line.

Here are some items you should gather (depending on your particular problem) before you call support.

Model and Serial Numbers

Gather any model numbers, serial numbers, service tags, or any other special codes that you may have to give to tech support or type into the phone system before you’re connected.

Determine System Version

Whether you’re talking about your operating system, browser, or another piece of software, know which version you’re using. Problems are often version specific, and having this information can help guide your tech to locating the right solution.

Know Your Error Messages

Is your problem producing a particular error message? If yes, take a screen shot (pressing print screen and pasting the image into Word or an email often works well), or write down the message, so that you can tell the tech the exact wording of the error.

Having the exact message on hand isn’t simply a nicety, it’s a requirement. Many times error messages contain codes or other pieces of information which identify the exact problem, and having this information on hand can not only help your tech know which way to proceed, but it will also save you a lot of time on the phone.

What Surrounds the Problem?

Before you call, it helps to think about and formulate your issue, so that you know how to communicate the problem to the technician.

When did your problem start? Did it just start happening today, or has it been happening for a week, and you’re just now getting around to calling?

Did anything else happen around the same time your problem occurred? Sometimes issues are interrelated, even if you don’t realize it, so try to think about all the things that happen at the same time as the issue – like not being

able to print when your email program is not responding. It is these little pieces of information that help ensure entire problem is fixed, not just one small portion.

What Troubleshooting Have You Already Done?

Aside from explaining the problem to the technician, you should also tell them what troubleshooting you have already done. This serves two purposes. First, it saves you time by not having you repeat steps you’ve already taken to resolve the problem. Secondly, it can also help the tech further understand the problem.

Create a Plan

While you’re gathering your information, make a brief list of the points you want to discuss with the tech, including the items listed above. Remember to also write down any other issues or questions you would like to discuss. Having a plan like this will allow you to get the most out of your tech support call, and will save you from having to call again because you forgot to bring up an important point the first time around.

Once you have performed these information gathering steps, it is finally time to call tech support and have your problem resolved. Looking for tips for actually talking to tech support? Stay tuned for How to Get the Most Out of Your Tech Support Calls, Part Three: Clear Communication.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you get the most out of your tech support calls. Email: [email protected].

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