Computers can do a million things – when they’re working. But when they break, a million different things could be wrong. When you call your IT support person to fix your computer, half the battle is figuring out exactly what the problem is to begin with. Only then can the technician fix the issue.
Let’s address the elephant in the room: most people have had bad experiences with customer support, and IT support is no exception. You’re just trying to get your computer fixed so you can get back to work. Meanwhile, you’re dealing with endless robotic menus, script-happy call centers, and IT jargon that you can’t understand. As an IT company, we know how frustrating it can be (which is why our IT team answers the phone live).
However, the trick is that your IT person isn’t sitting there in front of your computer. You know best exactly what you’re doing and seeing. Regardless of whether you’re an experienced computer user or not, you are their best resource for being able to understand the problem. By giving your IT technician the most detailed information possible, you will empower them to identify and solve your issue faster.
What Kind of Information Does Your IT Person Need?
IT troubleshooting is essentially a process of elimination. Your IT technician is trying to narrow down all the possibilities for what could be wrong to reach a solution. So when all they know is, “your computer isn’t working,” that doesn’t give them much to go on.
When talking to IT, think about identifying the who, when, and what of the problem.
Is anyone else experiencing this issue?
Let your IT person know if you’re the only one experiencing the issue, or if it’s affecting others too. This lets them know if they’re looking for a problem related to your individual computer, or if they’re looking for a larger network-wide issue.
Do you experience this issue on any other computers, devices or networks?
Again, your technician needs to know if the issue is localized or not. An issue with a specific device is very different than a problem with communication or networks between devices.
When did the problem begin?
Let your IT person know whether the problem happened this morning, or it’s been going on since last week. That narrows down the timeframe for their search immensely. It also helps identify events that may have caused the problem. Maybe there was a power outage, or a software update that affected how your computer is operating.
Has this issue occurred before? If so, when?
One-time problems may be flukes or simple errors, but a recurring issue is often a symptom of a much deeper problem. Let’s say your computer shuts off unexpectedly. If it happens once, perhaps the power flickered, or you bumped the power button. If it keeps happening, it becomes much more likely that your computer is overheating, or a piece of hardware is failing.
What exactly were you doing when the problem occurred?
Finally, here’s the meat of it. Describe the exact steps you were taking when the problem happened, and give details, even if you don’t think they aren’t important. Don’t just say, “my printer isn’t working.” Explain that you opened a Word document, opened the Print menu, selected a printer, clicked print, and went to the printer, but didn’t see the document or any error messages. That gives your technician a lot more information to work with so they can ask logical follow-up questions.
If you’ve already tried to troubleshoot the problem on your own, let them know exactly what you’ve done. We know it can be frustrating when IT tells you to “check whether it’s plugged in” or “try rebooting,” but ironically, most IT problems have very simple causes. Unless we know you’ve tried it, it makes sense to cover the basics.
Write down error messages or send screenshots
Error messages are your computer’s way of trying to tell you what’s wrong. These can be extremely helpful to your IT support team to identify your problem. If you get an error message or Blue Screen of Death, write down any error messages or codes, word for word.
Even better, take a screenshot if you can. That way your IT person can see exactly what you’re seeing. Windows 7 and later have a built-in Snipping Tool that you can use to take quick screenshots.
Here’s how to find the Snipping Tool on your Windows computer:
Your IT Provider’s Side of the Deal
When you call with a problem, it’s your IT person’s job to narrow down the possibilities until they can discover and fix the issue. You can help them do that a lot faster by providing more detailed information, but ultimately, it’s up to them. It’s also their job to support you with courtesy and respect throughout the process.
Here at EZComputer Solutions, we have a client Bill of Rights to ensure that our clients are responded to quickly with utmost courtesy and in plain, understandable English. Whether you’re working with us, or another IT provider, you as the customer should demand this level of service from your provider.