How You Ask For Technical Help Greatly Determines If You Will Get It!
.. and no, in this post I do not intend to single anyone out or mock any person ( if you recognize yourself by description, I’m sure it is purely coincedential ) but to simply help both sides: Giving Help And Receiving Help as I was personally on both and can attest how frustrating it can be at times. Our goal here is to establish basics that will save time…
Asking for technical help as well as giving it has been a long standing tradition on Internet but from a gratifying experience it can quickly turn into name calling if some of the basics ignored. Here are a few guidelines that should help…
- Introduce yourself. Whether it is a free support on some blog or forum or a support provided with product you have purchased – use your name or at least a “nickname” you are known by on the Net. Even if you are paying customer – DON’T assume your name is known. It is the very base but you’d be amazed how many people don’t even bother providing name and when I reply to support request from a “nameless” person – I find it harder to associate with that person and somehow feel less motivated. With free support you can quite easily find yourself completely ignored!
- Be Polite. Another one of the basics and yet, so often ignored. Don’t demand support unless you are 100% sure that issue with the product provided and even if you do – demand politely. While not too often I do get sometimes a demand to FIX IT! when the issue was actually created by the customer himself. Apologies later, when issue clearly identified and points to your actions will do NOTHING for good relationship if it was started with Blind Demand.
- Ask First. This is especially applying to the free support offers on Forums or Blogs. Ask if you can get help. Just because something is offered for – doesn’t mean it will be always available or provided to each and everyone. I have several posts where I offered time and number limited support offer that still get requests for support, even when I clearly stated that offer is closed! Even if you are asking for support on a purchased product – you need to be aware of what is actually covered by actual product support and if your request is outside of the support scope – Ask First If You Can Get The Help and don’t assume it will be free!
- Provide Detailed Description. The more info that applies to the problem you experience you will provide – more chance you will have of getting support. If there is an info post that defines how to ask for help – make sure you read it (forums) or at least provide as much as you can think of that might apply. Simple questions that will go a long way toward solution:
- When did you notice the issue?
- how it is manifesting itself,?
- What error message (if any) you see?
- How can one reproduce the issue?
- And what changes (if any) were implemented or done before the problem started.
- When did you notice the issue?
- Provide Access Info. This one generally applies to a support provided for a paid product. If you are asking for a help with your blog – do provide all the info needed for support person to work with your blog: hosting login URL, username and password and blog URL, admin username and password. Don’t assume that info is known because you previously provided it. Do make it simpler for support person to HELP YOU.
- Allow Ample Time. Just because you didn’t receive a reply within few hours doesn’t mean you are ignored. Keep in mind that Internet is Global marketplace and just because you submitted your request during early hours of your morning it will be replied right away. In fact it can be the end of the work day for support people and they will not even see your message for next 12-16 hours, much less have time to reply! Other people do have lives too… It is not uncommon to get first reply in 24-48 hours.
- Act On Closure. If the problem was resolved – do go back and comment on resolution in the ticket, unless it was already auto-closed. Provide your feedback or even simply state that it was resolved to your liking or other wise. I see it time and time again where people are very vocal during the duration of the problem and then you get no reply. I personally close tickets I know were addressed with assumption that customer happy if I don’t get reply within 2 weeks, in fact it has gotten bad enough that I have actually changed the settings to auto close support requests if no reply from customer received within 2 weeks. Support is a 2 way conversation and with your voice missing it is harder to keep it going.
- Rate Resolution. Poor support is always a topic for conversation and with more and more people outsourcing it – I don’t see this going away. But not all support is bad and letting people know your opinion helps business owners to judge the effectiveness of the people they hire. More and more helpdesk scripts incorporate an option to RATE the resolution. Be it good or bad – voicing your opinion will help the business owner to take appropriate action. I know many tend to act on BAD support but rating good support is even more important. Because it is so seldom – chances are your name will be remembered and your vote appreciated to the point that next problem can be solved a lot quicker (just an insider tip for ya).
As you can see the steps above are very simple, based on common sense and common knowledge and yet very few follow them. Go ahead try them next time you have an issue and see if I was right! Share with me your results and I’m sure other readers will be interested to learn. Always remember: