If something goes wrong with your system, you might need to log a support call. This might be the result of a hardware failure, or it could be an application that has crashed—or at least isn’t performing as you expected. Whatever the issue, it’s important to know how to log a support call and how to provide the information the support team needs. This article shares a simple tip that will help you diagnose and fix system problems quickly. It applies to all kinds of IT issues that need to be escalated to a support center.
How Do You Spell HELP?
It’s surprising how often people scramble to find out how to get in touch with support when they’re having performance problems—or when systems are down. Even if you know the number to call or have a link to a support website, you might still have some hoops to jump through. You can lose an awful lot of time just working out how to log on, finding the customer service number, or collecting and sending diagnostic information.
If you can log your call online, you might need to register first, and that could involve checking whether you’re entitled to get support for the system or application you need help with. That process alone can significantly slow the time it takes to get your problem looked at. It’s much smarter to have that figured out well before you face a system failure.
Who You Gonna Call?
If you—or someone else on your team—has registered for online support, be sure you have the login details handy. If the support you need requires a phone call or an email, you’ll need the support center’s contact details. It’s also best to be ready for the questions you’re typically going to be asked. The sort of information you’re likely to need for logging a support call might include:
- System model and serial number
- Your customer number
- OS version
- Other software versions
- What was running when the problem occurred
- What changes have recently occurred on the system
- Any errors reported
- Hardware indicator lights or other warnings
- What steps you’ve taken to diagnose or fix the problem
Even basic information such as your system serial number can be hard to find if you don’t know where to look for it. Don’t lose precious time in a real emergency finding basic information that you could have easily gathered ahead of time.
Where Does it Hurt?
When contacting support, you’ll also usually need to spell out the business impact of the problem. Is it a show stopper, with hundreds or thousands of users unable to continue working? Or is it a localized problem with a possible workaround?
A very practical way of working through the support call process and making sure you have all the information you need is to log a test call. This will help highlight any speed bumps you might face before the support team at the other end of the line can start diagnosing and fixing the problem. A test call can help you iron out those difficulties in advance. For example, if you have to upload logs to a website, be sure you’ve arranged a straightforward way to get those files uploaded, because you could face firewall rules that block uploads, file size limitations, and slow network speeds. If you have to email files, do all you can to ensure they don’t get blocked because of their size or mail filter rules.
We’re Here to Help
Naturally, good support centers want to provide the best service they can within the limits of their resources. You can understand why they might ask you to do some of the leg work in gathering information about you as a customer, as well as information that will help them diagnose the problem.
Over the years, various support teams I’ve contacted have encouraged me to ask what I thought were dumb questions—or at least basic questions. Their answers have often been enough to prevent much bigger problems further down the track.
Many support sites offer knowledge bases as a means of answering customers' questions without them having to make a call. These can be very helpful ways of finding quick solutions to common problems, meaning you might have your question answered without even logging a call. That’s why it makes sense for support teams to issue fixes, provide answers to common problems, and keep their documentation up to date.
If you’re the one providing support, try to get an end user to log a test call so you can determine how difficult the process is and streamline it. If you send an automated email to users advising about the support call and a knowledge base, include links to these resources.
We’re On It
When system problems arrive—whatever their nature—it’s critical to get the people who can help fix it on the job as soon as possible. A key step to solving problems quickly is knowing who to contact and what information they need to get started with the diagnosis.