Tech Support would be a lot easier if…

…customers didn’t start the conversation with their own fault diagnosis.

Quite often the hardest part of the conversation is trying to coax the customer back a step to the original problem. And then working forward from the problem to a diagnosis.

Providing good remote tech support is one of the hardest jobs in the tech industry. You are at the end of a phone or email, cannot see the users set up and only have the highly edited highlights of what the customer is willing to tell you.

A lot of people are not very good at diagnosing problems. One of the challenges with technical support is that the customer has already, in their own head, diagnosed the problem. Sometimes the customer misdiagnoses the problem. So the interaction with tech support is then coloured by that misdiagnosis even to the point selectively missing out crucial information that may not fit the customer’s narrative.

A recent tech support call went something like this:

Customer: Hello support, I need you to send me a new X mine has stopped working.

Tech support: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Can I ask have you made any changes to X?

Customer: No, it just stopped working.

Turns out that the customer had made a change. The customer may not have been overtly dishonest. There may have been some time between making the change and discovering the fault.

We don’t have a problem with replacing faulty equipment. Quite the contrary. But, there is no point in going to the considerable expense of replacing equipment if that wasn’t the root cause of the fault. All that happens then is that customer now has two pieces of equipment that don’t work and are still no closer to knowing what the original problem was.

Whilst the customer won’t appreciate at the time being dragged back through a thorough diagnosis, they probably will appreciate in the end getting to a solution a little bit faster.

Author: Jack Hughes

An experienced software engineer with 20+ years experience writing products for Microsoft Windows based operating systems as well as 12+ years experience hosting websites on Linux and Windows including e-commerce and CMS systems.