Tech Support Stinks?

“How may I provide excellent service for you today?”

My friend Tina just spent eight hours, over the last several days, on the phone with her internet service provider, trying to solve connection issues. She spoke with a number of off-shore support people, and was eventually moved up to a senior level technician who still was unable to resolve the issue. Finally, today, she called me. I asked a couple of questions and the problem was fixed in less than five minutes! I did nothing amazing. I have no secrets or special talents. I have a good amount of experience but more importantly, I do not follow a script.

Large corporations must gear their tech support operations to handle “most common denominator issues” and they must have a system that gives the average employee the ability to troubleshoot a wide variety of issues. Part of this system is that this employee must follow that carefully designed script; a series of yes or no questions and general test suggestions for problem resolution. For us, the customer, just this part of the process can be quite frustrating. So often, we have already tried the basic suggestions they offer. Regardless, they must follow that script in order to confirm, for their notes, that we have indeed performed these tasks. In some cases they actually get in trouble if they do not follow the script.

Steps to Success

Here are some suggestions which may help, as you call any tech support team.

1. Allow them to follow their script. Be very patient. Take notes on absolutely every step they are asking you to do. Learn their process. These scripts, with their corporate jargon, do not change much. This will be a killer help if you ever need to call back. If you call back some other time…when the rep asks you what the problem is, you calmly walk through “all the things I’ve tried before I called you.” using their exact jargon and steps. This could possibly save you a bit of time. You may need to remind the rep that you have “tried that per their suggestions” and are now ready to “escalate” the issue. Ask, “How do we escalate this issue?” and allow that to become the new reason for your call.

2. Learn their lingo. Listen to the words they use and use those same words when you are discussing the issue. It may feel like tech speak, but speak it.

3. If an agent puts you on hold and there is no music… they can hear everything you are saying. Let that one sink in just a bit. Don’t complain about the #$@* service. No music means they have muted their mic so it sounds like you are on hold but you are not. They did not just put the phone down to go “check the file”, they are wearing a head set. You are not on hold. On the other hand, background music is a good indication that you are really on hold.

4. Get a case number. Many times, your case may not be escalated to a more knowledgeable rep without this number. If you are calling back in, explain immediately that you have a case number and wish to speak to a second level support team.

5. If you feel like you are getting nowhere with a particular rep, end the call by saying, “You know what, I need to go. I will call you back if I am still having problems.” Then call right back to get another rep. You’ve got that case number now… right?

6. You can shorten the long and drawn out “quality control farewell” when your issue is successfully resolved by once again using their script lingo before they do. “Thank you so much for providing such excellent service today and I will require no further assistance. I am completely happy with your performance and I do not wish to sign up for long distance service or a new credit card at this present time. I will indeed call you in the future and recommend you to all of my close friends and family. Thank you and good day.”

Things to try before calling

Make sure it’s all connected properly.

When I resolved my friends issue, I really did nothing amazing. I just made sure that everything was connected the way it should be. Here’s what happened…

Me: Look for a large telephone like cable plugged into the back of your Macintosh. Unplug it and plug it back in.

Tina: Ok. Found it. Done

Me: Trace that cable down to the Cisco Router. What hole is it plugged into?

Tina: “Internet”

This was the problem.

Me: Remove it from the Internet socket, and plug it into the socket labeled 1, 2, 3, or 4.

Tina: “Done”

Me: “Now move your modem’s cable from 1, 2, 3, or 4 and plug it into the Internet plug on the router. Restart the router and the modem”

Tina: Done…everything works! Why couldn’t the support people do this?”

Me: “They follow a script.”

Power cycle your devices.
Make sure you have turned off the computer, the modem and the router and turn them all back on again. Don’t dive down on the floor to unplug stuff. If your modem and router are on the desk, simply unplug the little black power cord to the device for a few seconds. The absolute, number one fix for most technical problems is a good ol’ fashion restart.

Check other devices which may be connected to the same service line.
If you use a cable modem and have Cable TV service and the Cable TV is out, your internet will not work either. Someone hit a pole with their car. Wait for the crews to fix it. If you have DSL through a phone company, see if you have dial-tone on your phone. No dial tone, no DSL. Call the provider to report the outage.

One computer works but the other one doesn’t.
If you are on a wireless network, could it be possible that you are on a neighbors network and not yours, which you believe to be inoperable?

Call us.
Seriously. If you get stuck, utilize the free tech support your provider offers. If the free support is not working, call us. We are fee based but can cut through a lot of junk so you don’t have to. I am a certified consultant and that usually carries some weight when I must talk to a service provider. I especially rely heavily on telling them all the steps I have walked through before I called. It seems to help.

Calling tech support and customer service can be a pain. But let’s try to put ourselves in their shoes. Do we realize that every single call that individual gets, all day long, is someone telling them about their problems? A bit of compassion and genuine concern for the rep and a “how’s the weather where you are?” can be another really big help in making the experience better. Now I certainly hope that I have provided most excellent service.


Mac Tutorials Guru



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  1. danahaynes September 6, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    Thank you for your kind words.

  2. marilynstephan September 2, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    This is really an AWESOME article. I’m certainly glad I read it before my call to my internet service provider about internet speed issues…. but then again, you usually offer the most sage advice and have done so for the past 23 years I’ve had the pleasure of having you work on my Macs!

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