It’s early Tuesday morning and you’re just entering your trusted car mechanic’s garage because last night your car was really acting up on your way home from work. You don’t know exactly what’s going on, but there’s no doubt that something is really wrong. The mechanic greets you with a smile and asks you what he can do for you to which you reply “my car is broken”.
What do you think happens next? Is this enough information for the car mechanic to help you?
No, not even close. Firstly, what do you mean by it’s broken? Does the car start? Is the windshield broken? Does the car make any noises? Does it rattle? And so on.
Basically the mechanic will first try to get a basic assessment of what’s going on. Saying the car is broken just isn’t enough. It’s much too generic with too many possible meanings. The mechanic needs to know more.
The exact same is true with software technical support. If you truly want to maximize the effectiveness of the help you’ll get from the support department, give them as MUCH RELEVANT information as you can.
For the car mechanic, you could say something like the car makes a loud rattle, but only when I turn. And this only happens if I’m going at least 30 mph or more. I’ve also noticed that it’s coming from the back left section of the car. I just started last night, I hadn’t heard anything before.
When it comes to support, a surprising number of people seem to just say things like “the software is broken”, “it no longer works”, “I can’t use it”, “it won’t let me close”, “it won’t let me enter my data”. All of these are too vague and to do any real troubleshooting with unless there’s more information to give it a context.
For example what does it’s broken mean? Does the software start up? Are you getting an error message? If so what is the error message? Is it a report that’s not generating the results you’d expect? Are you not able to perform a specific task? The list of possibilities are endless.
And please don’t take this post as me complaining about our customers, because it’s not at all about that. I really do appreciate all of our customers. What I’m trying to give here are some tips to help everyone (me included) to get the best support experience possible. And this isn’t just with us, but with every company out there. Not just software, but with anyone you’re trying to get help from. The more context you can give the better your results will be.
Imagine going to the doctors and just saying you don’t feel well. What does that mean? Do you have a headache? Do you have a stomach ache? Are you bleeding profusely (well you would hope that one would be obvious)? Did you bruise something? The list of possibilities are endless. You have to give your doctor some context so that they can help you.
The same is true with technical support. The more context you can give the better your results will be. I know we always appreciate it when people give us more details. And more importantly, it lets us respond immediately without having to send a request for more details. Adding relevant details and context is a win-win scenario for everyone.