Taking the Tech out of Tech Support: Less Tech and More Service

With all the new technology for consumers hitting the market, tech support is in high demand, leading to the potential for greater communication problems between consumers and customer service help desks.

A common source of these problems is callers who aren’t sure of the technical terms, equipment, etc. Often, those calling in for help don’t know anything about the item they have purchased. All they know is that it is no longer working like it should and they want it fixed. Some of the questions from the help desk may include: what version of browser are you using, have you cleared your cache, have you tested your network to make sure that port 80 is open, or are you using a POP account or STMP? Many callers have no idea what the service reps are talking about, which leads to a very long call that will probably not end well.

Tech support gets upset because the callers don’t understand what they are saying, callers get upset because they feel like they are being made to look stupid. Just because reps know the lingo doesn’t mean they have to use it. There are times when there is no choice because, well, let’s face it, a browser is just that, a browser and there is really no other name for it. However, it’s important to find a way around this to help customers understand what is needed from them to get the correct information to help them solve their problem.

This is when true customer service skills come into play. Anyone can do tech support. Not everyone can provide the level of customer service needed to keep the customer calm, worry free and knowing that their issue is being handled by a professional who will get things fixed and back to normal. When dealing with those less-savvy customers, trying something along these lines:

“When you get on the Internet, what is the symbol you click on the desktop? On the home screen of your phone I would like for you to click on that picture of the gear. That is your tools section. Now look for email and click on that, please. Can you tell me, does it list there a POP3 account, which is your Post Office Protocol or an SMTP, which is your Standard Mail Transfer Protocol?”

At this point you have done two things at once. You used the tech names, but you also explained to them what it is called and had them give you the needed information without it sounding like you were flaunting your knowledge by your word choice. Word choice can make or break a call really fast. Instead of “you need to,” try “I would now like you to…” or “can you please….” This may seem like common sense, day-one training for customer service courtesies but think about how many times you have called someone for assistance and you didn’t hear this, and overall were left thinking, “Hey, I’m the customer here, why aren’t you doing your job?”

And don’t forget to smiles. You can hear a smile on the phone. Keep your tone calm and low. This is great for disarming a high-strung caller. If the caller is becoming so irritating that you feel you might lose it, put them on a brief hold. This will do two things — one, give you time to calm down, and two, give you time to come up with a different strategy on how to help them.

Knowledge may be power, but the words you choose will determine how you use the power of your knowledge.


— Jessie Johnson has more than 15 years of customer service experience in backgrounds including in person and over the phone. He has five years in tech support, most of which he learned on his own when his desktop got high-jacked with a fake blue screen of death that he figured out how to fix on his own. He is a gamer and a writer who currently lives in Texas and is working on his first full novel.

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