Car radio on the fritz? Shopping cart down? Can’t figure out how to use an app on your smartphone? No matter the problem, there’s support for that. The question is, at what cost?
Along with a growing number of Internet users (it’s been steadily increasing for the past decade) comes a growing need for businesses (and individuals) to implement additional support strategies. For some companies, adding more employees (techs) and implementing newer technology is a cost that’s passed onto the consumer. For open-source, it means less bug fixes and features created while those oh-so-brilliant developers spend time answering questions.
There are some “internal” labels created by support teams, which describe the types of users many techs deal with. There’s the ID-10-T error (if you’ve ever heard this term, they’re actually calling you something – ID10T). There’s the always popular RTFM problem (that means Read the F***ing Manual) and there’s the utterance of “moron” immediately after the line goes dead. Don’t take offense, that’s their way of dealing with the never-ending frustration. Chances are good you’re not the slowest dope in the long trail of support calls and email support threads, and it gets better – IF you take action.
Here’s how to help yourself, save money and be a true winner when it comes to the guys and gals behind the curtain who are not-so-eager to take the next call.
1. Retrace your steps. The majority of problems we run into are because of our own actions. Pay attention while you work and it will be easier to determine what went wrong.
That means don’t just click “Yes” or “Okay” until you’ve read the actual dialog box.
2. Read the manual, help files and FAQ. Trust me, more often than not, the problem you’re having is addressed in these key spots. In fact, you’ll most likely get your answers quicker than it takes to even draft a lengthy email.
Did you know that everything you could possibly know about how Google products work resides on the web?
3. Search at topic-specific forums. Active forums usually consist of members eager to help others. The majority of common, yet undocumented problems are addressed amongst threads maintained by people just like you.
Google again – there are thousands of community people (many just like you) who have experienced far worse than you. They’re happy to give advice if you’ve previously searched and provide all the info they need.
4. Search the web. Start with a specific phrase, such as the error you receive, verbatim. You may need to broaden or narrow your search terms, but, again, this action will often yield you to sites and forums you never knew existed.
Sometimes it helps to type a question in the same way you’d ask a person.
5. Post on Facebook or Twitter. Ask your followers or friends if they have any insight.
Don’t immediately point the finger elsewhere. Being put in your own place is never fun.
Keep in mind that support teams cost money. Even if you pay for a service you don’t want to abuse the support line. This typically results in one of two things: you’ll experience longer and longer wait times, or the cost of the service will increase. Besides, who wants to spend 10 minutes on the phone when the right answer may only be 30 seconds away?