Hello, PR readers! Apologies for the skipped column last week - work was a bit crazy.

This week, I'll be covering something that can be vital to getting your IT issues resolved whether at home or at work: how to help IT help you. While we do our best to help resolve your issues, there are things you can do to help us identify and quickly resolve your issues.

Here are the basics:

  1. Be as detailed as you can be about the issue you're having

    I cannot stress how important an accurate and detailed description of the issue is. If you're having a Microsoft Word issue, for example, simply stating "Word isn't working!!!" to your IT person isn't enough for him/her to go on and will delay their ability to help you. If, on the other hand, you say, "Word is giving an error about a plug-in being unable to load," that helps your IT person more quickly identify the problem and work with you resolve it.

    If, by chance, you've taken any steps to try and fix the issue, please let the support person you're working with know what actions you've taken. This will help them avoid retracing your steps and lead to a faster resolution.

  2. Be honest with the support staff

    We all know mistakes are sometimes made. Yes, even your IT staff can make mistakes, as hard as it is to believe.
    If you make a mistake, such as accidentally deleting a file, please don't tell us that you don't know what happened. If we know what happened, it makes it a lot easier to undo any damage and get you back up and running.
  3. Be as calm as you can

    When you call in for technical support, you're likely going to be frustrated. As IT professionals, we get that. That said, however, it's much harder to assist you when you're raising your voice or yelling at us. When you try to be calm and rational with us, it will take much less time to resolve your issue and it will be less stressful for all.
  4. Follow any given directions as best you can

    Sometimes, the IT instructions you're given sound very silly (such as the suggestion to reboot your computer). As pointless as it sounds, going through the basics will solve the problem. If not, the information gathered can help the support staff member determine what the problem might be and work with you to resolve it.

    It's also worth noting that, in many cases, the support team member you contact may have a script he/she must follow to troubleshoot. Trust me when I say that the tech hates having to follow the script just as much as you hate having to hear it, but it's the procedure they must follow or risk being disciplined or losing their job.

While following this advice will likely make your support experience better, choosing not to follow it does not give IT support an excuse to be unprofessional towards you. If a member of the support staff acts unprofessionally towards you, ask for a supervisor or manager. As somebody who has supervised an IT team, I can tell you that most IT teams consider unprofessional behavior unacceptable and will not tolerate it.

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I hope that this advise helps make the next tech support call you have to make much smoother and get you back up and running more quickly. Until next time, I'm Nick Burns.

Oh, by the way, you're welcome!