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Jump to advanced tech support

"It's broken, no amount of simple steps are gonna fix it. Gimme some real help."
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When dealing with tech support staff, one frequently finds that they make you go through a series of steps (eg "unplug your modem", "reboot your computer" etc.); often these exact steps are available on the company's website, in the manual included with whatever equipment is playing up, or, heck, are just common sense (see examples above).

What I propose is a menu option along the lines of "I know what you're going to tell me to do and I've already done it, skip that, I need an engineer/proper fault testing procedure," etc.

As you can see, it doesn't really lend itself to a snappy title, unless you guys have some suggestions?

K o R, Jan 11 2007

Computer Stupidities http://www.rinkworks.com/stupid/
This site has the a list of stupid calls tech support gets [dev45, Jan 15 2007]

[link]






       Just an assumption, but isn't tech support only for inexperienced users ? I mean, I'm not calling people dumb for not knowing how to fix their problem, but anyone who needs serious help is seriously stupid, not very smart.   

       Plus that a competent tech support person is nigh impossible to find let alone hire, so the prices would be really, really high. For all the reasons outlined above, I'm a bone'n ya.
Raithah, Jan 11 2007
  

       Obviously this can't work as a simple menu option. But, while you're on hold anyway maybe they can give you a multiple choice quiz on advanced topics relating to modems/ports/daemons/services, and if you answer it all correctly THEN you get jumped to "the good" representative.
phundug, Jan 11 2007
  

       They could maybe do it kind of like the telecom company here do call-outs: If you ask for someone to come and check your phone line in person, and it turns out it was a problem with your phone rather than the line itself, you're charged for the call-out. So people could choose to speak to the advanced tech support, but if it turns out that a simple reboot fixes the problem, they have to pay for wasting the advanced tech support worker's valuable time.
imaginality, Jan 11 2007
  

       I bet if you studied the number of times that a tech support center actually solves the problem within the first few basic questions you would be quite surprised(and a little frightened for the future of the species)   

       What you need is like an experience ID Code that will skip you over the basics based on how many times you have called in in the past and how your technical knowledge has been rated.   

       I have an ICP service techician who knows me by name and doesn't even bother to ask me the basics any more and jumps right to the unusual.
jhomrighaus, Jan 11 2007
  

       I wish you could do this with plumbers. you only seem to get the knowledgeable one until you have been without heat or hot water for months.
po, Jan 11 2007
  

       It's not so much that I get to _talk_ to an experienced engineer, I know they're unlikely to be available as they'll be busy fixing stuff, it was more "the simple stuff has been tried, but none of it helped, so skip straight to the call out an engineer stage".   

       It's for things like a broadband connection, where the user cannot do anything more than the simple steps; anything further requires action on the company's part (i.e, some tweaking in the company's external boxes or replacement of hardware is needed)   

       [phundug] I like it!   

       [jhom] I can imagine, having been in that sort of role before (though I never reached the level of BOFH). Experience ID code is a nice idea.
K o R, Jan 11 2007
  

       I think that however clever or experienced you are, when it comes to fault finding, sometimes it's the silliest things that catch you out. Technical people look for technical problems etc. Or, put another way, if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
I remember a cartoon with some professor scratching his head over a big computer. Alongside, a small kid was tugging at his sleeve and offering the power plug.
Ring any bells?
Ling, Jan 11 2007
  

       It's not quite as clear cut as who's smart and who isn't. I'm still amazed how often I'm the idiot who has forgotten to turn on the power or some such idiotic mistake, yet last week I found a leak that a professional (?) plumber was unable to spot. The main difference is that when I'm dealing with something I know well, I work under the assumption that I'm clever and just wade in. When faced with a problem in an unknown area, I assume that I'm stupid and apply standard step-by-step problem solving techniques. Tech support guys are trained to do simple step-by-step problem solving all the time and so have a higher success rate. Of course their success rate would be even higher if they all understood the technology involved and why they take the steps that they do.
wagster, Jan 11 2007
  

       I'm gonna bun this. But I wish I could only give a half of a bun. I've been the tech support staff, both for large and small companies, and I've been the 2-3 levels up "engineer". 2/3 of the people that call in and choose this menu option are gonna get booted back down the chain because they don't have half the skill or knowledge they think they do.   

       In my current position I occasionally have to make a call for product support. Most of the time I appreciate the guy on the other end making sure that what I'm saying the problem is truly is the problem. It may be a little slower, but we can double-check each other.   

       jhomrighaus has the right idea, if after a certain period of time the caller has demonstrated a proficiency then they get the accellerated track.
Noexit, Jan 11 2007
  

       Some time ago I had a problem with my car that I could not figure out. When I asked my mechanic for advice I neglected to tell him about a cracked air hose because I figured it was insignificant and unrelated to my problem. He didn't ask me about the air hose because he figured that there was no way that I could be that foolish. Long story short- I brought the car in and he fixed the cracked hose and I was amazed at how that was the minor thing causing the bigger problem.   

       So I had to bone this one simply because there is no "half-bun" as NoExit suggested. On one hand I run into the same crap and get impatient when I call tech support with a REAL problem and the guy is still trying to determine whether I have the device plugged in, but on the other hand I have been known to overlook some of the simplest things. So having said that, if I ever get into a position where I can't figure it out, then obviously I don't know as much as I thought I did.   

       One thing that is good, however, is that they give you a case number so when you call back, they already know that they took you through the baby steps eariler.
Jscotty, Jan 12 2007
  

       Are you definitely plugged in, Mr Tindale?   

       My experience on helplines (from calling in, working on and, for a short time, managing) is that few helpdesks have problems with the way they are designed. The majority of the problems occur when the realities of a budget begin to bite and operators are given bonuses on number of calls per hour or ar inadequately trained/qualified for the tasks they are given to do.   

       Unfortunately what is proposed here is a way to circumvent the questions that need to be covered to eliminate certain possibilities. In my experience, the people most in need of checking the common faults were those least keen on doing so. An option to voluntarily jump the basic steps would lead to a poor level of expensive support as the more skilled (and therefore costlier) members of the helpdesk would be pulled in to check that Mrs Miggins' toaster is actually plugged in and that the power is on.   

       As an aside, the best support I have ever used (now discontinued for reasons unknown) was provided by Palm Inc. As well as the usual phone support, they provided support over a web chat agent. This meant that the call was logged in a way that could be picked up by successive operators, operators could deal with multimple 'calls' and the boring but necessary 'who are you', 'what product do you have' and 'what is the problem' questions were handled by a computer rather than an operator. Best of all you could carry on with other things while waiting for and receiving support. Having been tied up in a phone queue for over two hours once, I appreciate how useful that can be.
st3f, Jan 12 2007
  

       After a call with tech support today I have decided to change my vote. I will bun this because even though I still strongly believe that they should go through every little step, I do not need step by step instructions on how to navigate my way around the PC. I dont need to be walked through every little step on how to shut the PC down, how to reboot, how to get to the control panel, and how to access the device manager.   

       The semi-english speaking rep was wasting a lot of my time telling me to go to START and then he would ask me if I could see MY COMPUTER and then he would tell me to click on MY COMPUTER, and then he would ask me if a window came up and to read what was in the window etc... and by the time I was able to figure out where he was trying to navigate me to, I was frustrated because I could have gone straight there immedately.   

       If we had the "Jump To Advanced" feature then the guy could have said, "Go to the device manager and check the network settings. Are all of the devices enabled?" I do not need 13 instructions on how to get to the device manager. And then to add insult to injury the man told me to power cycle my internet router and leave it off for 15 minutes. I don't know if that was an attempt to get rid of me or what so I butted in and told him that my wireless internet works fine from the other computers. That definately threw him for a loop because he had no idea how to respond.   

       Either this guy was new or he was trained to answer the easy questions like, "How do I change my screen saver" because he had to put me on hold 5 times during the 90 minute call. But one thing that I must admit is that on the flip side of tech support is that I have seen many of the guys who were very knowledgeable get impatient with the people who call up asking how to type a Word document and they don't even know what a mouse does.
Jscotty, Jan 14 2007
  

       I have to agree with [st3f] on the web chat - I have had some very good experiences that way. I have also had one incredibly bad "you would never believe this" experience - that I have a written record of. (For both my own enjoyment and the edification of upper management at the provider site.)   

       I just use e-mail with my current ISP - I have found on several occaisions that documenting all the steps I have taken leads me to an answer without taking up anyone else's time.   

       [Ian] - //when you talk to your doctor// Yes, it can work extremely well. The horrible part is when you have to move on to another doctor who doesn't think you have quite the mental capacity to handle being told what the white pills are.
lurch, Jan 15 2007
  

       Just thinking - how about a menu system that asks you for the area where you're having the problem, then asks a multiple choice question. For example, if you chose networking, you are then asked for the definition of DHCP (or something; random-select questions) and the right answer takes you to a different level than the wrong ones do.
lurch, Jan 15 2007
  

       [Ian] that's a good idea. Better then randomly throwing in a few technical terms in a feeble attempt to up the technical level.
phundug, Jan 15 2007
  

       I do some tech support (for church, friends, family, and such) this is needed but not as a menu option maybe as a [jhomrighaus] said a Id you get after a number of calls the number of times I call my ISP and go throw all the 200 steps to find out I've not dean transfer to there new mail sever or some other problem of theirs.
dev45, Jan 15 2007
  

       Good point Quest! I have a friend that I have tried to help over the phone who complained that her laptop kept shutting down. I suggested that she try another outlet but she swore up and down that the outlet was fine because the computer was working for a good 40 minutes. Of course she had trouble understanding that the laptop was running on the battery the whole time so when I was ready to hang up on her, she said, "Wait- Hold up.. let me try another outlet" and as you can imagine, IT WORKED!   

       Now in order to manage the people who jump to advanced but should not be there, the technician can ask them a couple of questions like, "What do you have for your TCP/IP settings?" and if their response is, "The T-C-I what?" Then you can politely transfer them back to the "regular" queue.
Jscotty, Jan 17 2007
  
      
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