James P DeVellis | How to Talk with Tech Support

James P DeVellis: How to Make the Most of Tech Support Calls

James P DeVellis has worked in IT for most of his life. As such, he is his family’s go-to guy when it comes to troubleshooting and solving problems with computers and other electronic gadgets. He has decided to write a regular blog containing useful tips for solving common IT and electronics problems. Today, he gives tips for making the most of calls to tech support hotlines.

Whenever a gadget breaks down, it is common for users to try to figure out the problem by themselves. While these types of issues can easily be solved by experienced IT professionals like James P DeVellis, most people don’t have that sort of expertise. As such, they turn to tech support hotlines for help. While the people who answer calls to tech helpdesks are trained to solve problems, there are certain things that users and callers could do to make their call a short and informative one. James P DeVellis lists some of these tips below.

Be specific. A lot of things could happen to a computer and make it useless. For instance, the monitor on a desktop computer might not switch on even if the CPU’s lights all seem OK. The user could also hear unnatural mechanical noises coming from a computer. Sometimes, programs just “freeze” and the caller couldn’t do anything. Worse, the computer won’t even turn on at all. James P DeVellis believes that saying “my computer doesn’t work” is very useless, even to experienced tech support agents, and urges computer users to be more specific about what they are experiencing.

Be prepared. Many callers are frustrated because they quickly find out that IT support agents still need information to solve their problems. To make the call easier for both parties, James P DeVellis suggests that callers take notes of the problems that they are experiencing. For instance, they should write down the exact error message that appears on the screen. In the absence of an error message, they could also look for telltale signs such as the “blue screen of death” on Windows machines or the “spinning beach ball” on Macs.

Be calm and clear. When you make a call to tech support, always keep in mind that they are only there to help you, not to make your life miserable. There are many cases of agents hanging up on their customers because of abusive or threatening language. Being overly emotional won’t make your computer boot up by itself magically; polite language, though, will help your agent understand what you need. In the same way, James P DeVellis says that users should communicate clearly. Many agents have difficulty dealing with confusing directions. They may also have trouble hearing you through any sort of noise, such as street sounds. For best results, make sure that you call the helpdesk from a quiet spot where you can hear each other clearly.

Always get a ticket number. Also known as a reference number or an incident number, a ticket number is given to you by an agent when you first make a call regarding an IT issue. This number will help you track the status of your service request. James P DeVellis says that in case you have to end the call, you can give the ticket number to the next agent you talk to, and they should be able to pull up the details of your issue right away.


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