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The smart user's guide to getting better tech support

Galen Gruman | Aug. 24, 2015
As a user, you can do four things to get issues resolved faster and more completely.

And remember: Being negative in your dealings with others can quickly paint you as a complainer no one wants to work with. That can hinder your issues from being addressed, because everyone starts avoiding them. Be someone who they want to help or at least someone they don't want to avoid.

2. Make an informal inquiry -- you may get help faster

There's a tendency in organizations to have everything go through a formal ticketing system. That's great for resource, issue, and resolution tracking and for pattern analysis to look for deeper issues that may be surfacing in multiple guises.

But often, especially, for operational issues, the issue is already known and may even have a workaround. Or it's a training issue, perhaps around a feature that was changed but not well communicated (or that the user didn't pay attention to). Each ticket goes through several hands, so routing everything through tickets can be very inefficient.

I've informed most of the staff they should ping me when something doesn't seem right or isn't working as expected. (On the other hand, a bug or clear failure -- such as when things crash, do not save, or return error messages -- should be filed as tickets ASAP.)

More than half the time, the issue is either known or a question of training/education that I or a colleague can handle quickly, and not consume the time of our product managers and developers. This way, I also get to see the users' operational patterns, which helps me figure out process and enabling-technology improvements to propose to the development team -- my core responsibility on the tech front.

When it is a bug or an issue I can't figure out or don't recognize, I've usually drawn out the details from the user that will help focus the project managers and developers on the most likely cause for use in the ticket that I file or ask the user to file.

3. Provide the details -- they matter more than you think

It's extremely common for users to provide no context on the environment the issue occurred in, resulting in reports like "This isn't working in my browser."

What browser? What operating system? What location? (After all, network issues could be the cause, not the browser.) Do you have ad blocking enabled? Have you tried another browser (so we can see if it's a cache issue or a browser-specific bug)? What were you doing? Does it happen again in the same circumstances? In other circumstances? Links to what you were doing, screenshots, and/or copy of the files you were working with will help immensely see if this issue is local or broad.


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