September 23, 2019
Technical support engineers see all manner of issues in support, such as;
- questions about an unrelated product
- simple misconfiguration
- not being able to access accounts
- documentation needing updates
- product enhancement requests
- Simple bug reports
- Bug reports that involved days of investigation to track down
- Many more...
While support engineers always try to get to the route of any issue, there are certain things you can do as a customer of a product to make the task of finding your issues simpler for both the support engineers and customers.
There is nothing worse than getting an email, chat or call into technical support that says one of the following;
"Something isn't working. Please help me."
"I have an error in your user interface."
"How do I use your product."
To get to the root of your issues quickly, it is always best to have as much information possible so we can look into the issue without having to ask multiple questions to establish what the problem is.
If you do not understand an area of a product or how to configure a particular function, try to be specific about the outcome you are trying to achieve, ie;
"How do I make the login button blue."
"How do I change the location of logs."
"I need to disable this function for user X."
If support engineers know what you are trying to achieve in the initial support contact, they can provide you with the resources you need to solve your issue, without having to guess what the problem may be and providing information that does not help you.
If you believe you have hit a bug or issue in the software, providing engineers with logs or screenshots of the problem can prove to be invaluable. Often, before an engineer can report an issue to the development team, they have to reproduce the issue.
Providing screenshots of a UI issue, the console output of the browser, the stack trace of an error or logs that tell us what went wrong helps speed up the reproduction process to get your issue investigated by the developers quickly.
When you are debugging an issue in the code you develop, you gather all this information to solve your issue, support engineers do the same so providing this information on your initial email makes their job so much easier.
There are several cases in support, such as account questions or issues activating software, that require engineers to identify the user contacting support before they can proceed with investigating the issue. They check the status of your account or ensure your license or API key is valid. To do this, they must be able to find your account on their system.
If you have an API or license key for the software, providing this to support in the first communication makes locating your account easy, so there is no need to ask you for this information before we can investigate.
Additionally if you are contacting support from a personal email or on behalf of another organization, providing the email address of the account owner saves time gathering the information required.
One of the most frustrating things the customer in a support case can do is not read or only partially read a response from support. Often if you ask a complex question or several questions in a single ticket, the response is a longer email with much information, possibly including questions asking for further information or suggestions to potentially solve the problem.
Having responses from customers with incomplete information, or where the customer is asking a question that is already answered causes frustration for both the support engineer and the customer as it delays the time taken to resolve an issue.
Understand that support solve technical issues, not give out free training or consulting
The role of technical support is there to resolve issues or queries customers have about the product. Most of the time consulting work or product training is carried out by another department within the organization, while sometimes support engineers do help these departments you should not expect a support engineer to offer free consulting or training as part of a support ticket.
Often if you are speaking to a support engineer, they may offer advice based on past support cases or information they see as they want to help and give you the best experience possible. However if you ask a support engineer to look at an issue not related to their product or want them to train you on using the product, do not be surprised if they say no.
You may end up needing to pay for a specific consulting or training package to get the help you need, but this allows the support engineers to work on other cases and deliver a high-quality support service.
The role of a support engineer can be very demanding and involve juggling many cases concurrently. They respond to each customer as fast as we can; however, at times, you may have to wait for a response or an appropriate time to call.
Typically, when a ticket comes into our help desk software, it is prioritized and distributed to one of the agents within a support team. Depending on the priority it may be that other cases have to be dealt with first, for example, if a customer cannot activate their product they have a higher priority than someone asking for a link to the documentation.
It may be that at the time you enter a support ticket there is no engineer available as they may be on a call, or support may not be operated 24/7 so the helpdesk is unavailable. Being patient and considerate relieves some of the pressure on support engineers and helps us to continue delivering a quality service.
Technical support engineers try their best to help you in whatever way they can. If as a customer you can consider the following points in when working with a support engineer, the engineer will appreciate this as it makes their job more straightforward and allows them to provide you with a better quality of service.
Technical Support Engineer and Developer advocate for nerd.vision and other software projects. Background in object-oriented software development and data analysis. Personal hobbies include simulation gaming and watch collecting.