In this article we shed light on how technical customer service works and how can customers help us solve their problems.

I am a technical customer service person. Hence, my job is to help our customers overcome problems they encounter while using our products, which are mostly web services and e-commerce systems. In this article I will do my best to describe what we do in tech support, and – if you ever have to contact us; how can you ensure you get your problem solved as fast as possible.

To put it simply, tech support consists of three different areas: (1) helping customers to use the products, (2) investigating problems customers have identified, (3) mending these problems, and making estimations on how much work is required to develop new features.

During an ordinary work day I work with several different kinds of systems and people. The process works the best when all the parties work together and do their part.

The work flow

The procedure I go through every day goes something like this:

  1. Receiving feedback from customers.
  2. Analyzing and reproducing the reported problem.
  3. Possible contacting a third-party responsible for a specific part of the system.
  4. Making an estimate what is required to address the problem.
  5. Assessment of whether the problem is a desired feature or error.
  6. Actual repair work.
  7. Informing all parties involved.

There are several ways how tech support process can start, and the common ones are repeated almost daily. The most common one is direct contact from the customer, either by phone or e-mail. These situations are definitely the easiest, since communicating directly with the customer allows us to get much information on the problem.

In addition to direct contacts we also get problem reports through various intermediaries. These can be, for instance, other customer service persons, sales people or project managers. In these situations the big picture is often harder to grasp, since the some parts of the original information often get altered or even lost when it travels through several middlemen.

In extreme cases the feedback comes from an end-user, whose contact information is not available. When this happens we often have almost no additional information about the problem or about the situation where the end-user has encountered it.

E-mail or phone? From our point of view e-mail is almost always the best solution. E-mail always leaves a trace, which is useful because we often need to go through the description of the problem many times when addressing it. The problem should always be well documented and e-mail will do this automatically.

It is quite understandable that from the user’s point of view calling us often seems as the fastest and easiest solution. Yet, if we are talking about a problem in the system, e-mail is better than phone. Only on very rare occasions any problem can be fixed during a phone call.

How to help us fix the problem?

  1. The feedback must be accurate. The more accurate information we get, the easier it is for us to fix the problem. The more additional details we have to ask, the longer it takes for us to start the actual repair work.
  2. Good feedback includes information about the circumstances when the problem was encountered. How the problem can be reproduced? How was the system used? Was the used device a PC, laptop, tablet, or mobile device? In addition we usually need your web browser’s name and version number.
  3. Good feedback might also include a screenshot of the page, especially in case of user interface related errors. The screenshot also often gives additional information about the problem, such as whether the user was logged in. What user is affected by the problem? What products the user tried to buy from the online store? It is also essential for us to know the exact error message given by the system; this can be easily done by taking a screenshot.
  4. If you are acting as a middleman, and the problem has been reported by one of your customers, please try to get as much information as possible before contacting us. This is very important, because we might not have the possibility to discuss with the user who initially discovered the problem and we rely completely on the information delivered to us by you. If there is not enough information, the chances of getting things fixed decline significantly.
  5. When the things mentioned above are in order, the last step is to pay attention to the written text itself. A well-written clear feedback will be easier to grasp and more pleasant to read. As I already mentioned, we often consult the original text many times during the repair process, and often several people read the same text, so it helps if the problem is clearly expressed from the get-go.

I hope this article shed some light on our daily work. Understanding and principles and tips presented here will ensure that your cooperation with tech support will be efficient and problem situations can be resolved as quickly and smoothly as possible!

Picture credit:

Man by Simple Icons from The Noun Project
Woman by Simple Icons from The Noun Project
Headset by Marwa Boukarim from The Noun Project

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