Ed. note: As always, lots of great tips here and one of my favorite is at the very end—how easy it is with technology to forget that real people are at the end of our tech traumas. Gayle helps us remember and respond with grace.
Sooner or later, it will happen!
Your computer is humming along when suddenly a strange message appears. You copy it down and note exactly what you were doing when the crash occurred. You thumb through the manual, find and try some options, noting each as you work.
Nothing helps. It’s time to call in the big guys. Being a professional, you calmly turn to your updated list of support line numbers, websites, and email addresses and select the most likely source of help.
Before you pick up the phone, type the email, or visit the website, give yourself the best chance of getting fast, accurate answers by getting all your ducks in a row.
• Have at hand the notes of the exact wording of any error message on the screen, the actions you were taking when the problem occurred and the actions you tried. Have the software in question running.
• Be prepared to describe specifically what happened. Be direct and to the point in stating your difficulty. Use proper terminology, never whadayacallit, etc.
• Have pertinent information at hand: the make and model of your computer and of any relevant peripherals, the program name and version, serial numbers.
• To give yourself uninterrupted time, arrange to have someone else take care of office business while you are with the support technician.
• On your preliminary notes, make a place for the name of the support person you contact. Ask for a phone number and extension or the best procedure for contacting that person if you need more help on this problem later.
One last suggestion from a technical support person: “Please have patience. Support lines are always busy. One of the most helpful things callers can do once they connect is to get right to the problem—even though they are upset, have backed up work to do, are having a bad day, whatever. We know people are not calling us under happy conditions, but the sooner we can solve a problem, the sooner we can help someone else—maybe you.”