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Five tips for giving better tech support

Having worked in tech support for fifteen years, I find I still enjoy my work. Yes, at times, I feel like a target at a live fire exercise, but at the end of the day, I still find fulfillment in knowing that I am able to help my users. Here are five tips to giving better tech support:

  1. Let the user talk, and listen to what they say
    • Allowing your user to talk may yield clues not only to what has gone wrong, but also to reproducing the problem, and ultimately to fixing it.
  2. Ask open-ended questions
    • By asking questions like “what were you doing when this happened?”, you invite the user to communicate with you, again prompting them to describe their problem
  3. Don’t expect knowledge or skillset
    • The level of a user’s knowledge will vary, depending on their job role, which might be virtually anything. Even with highly educated users, if their degree is not in ICT, they might be barely able to format a Word document
  4. Ask leading questions
    • Instead of saying “could you give me your IP address”, say “do you know how to find your IP address”, allowing an opportunity to teach the user something
  5. Be understanding
    • Many users have little or no knowledge of computing, and will oftentimes be apologetic about that fact. Try to assure them that you are there to help, and help them to the best of your abilities.

At the end of the day, while technical abilities are important, you must also practice patience, kindness, and an ability to describe issues and their resolution at a level that the end user can understand. No two end users are alike, so you will often have to tailor your explanation to each end user. Keep that in mind, and remember that you are there to help.

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