Sooner or later, you may need to call up tech support to fix something. Perhaps one morning you get the blue screen of death, or you get one of those scary error messages on your screen. Or maybe you try to turn your computer on and…nothing. Perhaps it’s not your computer at all, but your website is completely down and you have to make that call to your web designer or web hosting company.
I’ve been on both sides of that panicky call and there are 7 things you can do in order to help make that tech support call just a little less stressful:
1. Don’t panic– This is easier said that done when you’re computer’s on the blink and you’re staring down the barrel of a deadline. But things will be less stressful if you don’t freak out. Chances are the problem is not nearly as bad (or expensive) as you think.
2. Check the obvious before you call– One of the first things that your tech person will have you do is to check for obvious causes of trouble. Like is your computer plugged in? Or is the surge protector your computer’s connected is turned on? Are all of the cables coming out of your computer plugged in tight? Or are entering your password in correctly? Or do you have the “CAPS lock” key on while you’re entering your password? They have you run through this drill because many times the simple stuff is the problem. So run through some of the obvious causes of trouble before you pick up the phone.
3. Get prepared– If you have any warranties or service contracts gather up all of those materials before you call. It will save you a bit of time just in case your tech person requests this information. You may also need the serial number for your computer. These are usually located on a sticker placed on the back, bottom, or side of your computer or they are located in your computer registration paperwork.
4. Be as specific as possible– Simply saying “My computer’s not working” is not that helpful. Tech support already assumes that your computer isn’t working because you wouldn’t call just to say hi. What they need to know is “in what way is your computer not working?”. You need to be as specific as possible. Will your computer not start at all? Is the problem that you can turn the computer on but it won’t go past the startup screen? Perhaps you can get past the startup screen but you can’t open up a particular program? Describe your problem from start to finish; what you were doing when you encountered your problem, what your computer does, and if there are any special situations that seem to coincide with the problem.
5. Write down error messages– Usually when something goes wrong, you’ll get some kind of error message that attempts to tell you what the problem is. If you can’t make heads or tails of the message, take the time to write it down. It may mean something to the tech person you’re talking to and it might help them diagnose the problem just a bit faster.
6. Make note of any recent changes or incidents– Sometimes the cause of your computer trouble is something that’s changed on your computer or some incident that has happened recently such as:
- the addition of new hardware (printer, scanner, hard drive, memory, etc)
- the addition or deletion of software
- a power disruption or power surge
- the addition of deletion of a service
- software upgrades or security patches
Sometimes changes like this can cause some unforeseen problems with other things that may or may not seem to be related to your problem. When you’re talking to your tech person, make them aware of any changes or additions you made before you started having problems. They’ll be able to tell you if these changes are related to your trouble.
7. Keep notes- A lot of times a call to the support department means that you’ll be spending a lot of time on the phone being sent from one person to another. Keep notes on who you talk to, when you talked to them, and what they’ve done to help diagnose the problem. If you find that you have to keep calling the support department or if you have to a repair person fix your computer in person, these notes will come in handy.
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