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How To Contact Tech Support (and avoid frustration)

This post is for anyone that ever submits a help ticket to technical support (web hosting specifically in this case) then gets mad when you get a “default” reply that asks you for more information.

Let me start by saying that there are default replies for a reason.  Certain information, as trivial as it may seem, is often very necessary to help solve your problem.  For example, here are a few common “issues” I see at work that elicit a default response:

  • “My e-mail isn’t working.”
  • “I can’t login.”
  • “My site isn’t showing up.”
  • “My site is broken.”
  • “FTP won’t work.”

That’s it.  A customer submits a ticket and that is all the information I get.   It makes my head boil.  I reply with what we call a “pre-def” (predefined response) asking for more information which includes a list of specific questions related to the issue.  If the customer did actually provide some information, like what mail or FTP client they are using, their domain name, or – god forbid – a way to replicate the issue, I kindly remove those parts of the pre-def to not make them repeat the same thing (unless I’m in a bad mood).

If you want to avoid these “pre-def” responses I suggest the following for any type of tech support ticket (web hosting or not):

Provide as much information as possible, including but not limited to:

  • Operating system and version you are using
  • Browser type and version, if applicable
  • Mail client and version, if applicable (Outlooks comes in so many flavors)
  • A ULR to replicate the issue, if applicable
  • Any error messages that you encountered – copy them exactly, including the error codes
  • A way to create or replicate the error
  • A time-frame, ex. it always happens, sometimes happens, etc.
  • Your IP address (http://ipfinder.us works great)
  • Any username(s) or password(s) needed to replicate (change to a temporary one if it makes you feel more comfortable)
  • Location, if applicable (connecting from an office or workplace can cause all sorts of problems)

Basically, the more information you provide, the more time tech support can spend fixing your problem and not having to wait for more information from you.  Most tech support people are more than happy to help you but you have to throw them a bone first!

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