We’ve all been there. It’s a busy day in the office, the to-do list is a mile long, and suddenly, a computer snafu stops the workday. It’s frustrating. It feels monumental. It’s time to call for help. You think: How long will it take? Will the help desk rep really be able to help? How long will my computer be down? First take a deep breath then use these tips to help the help desk representative get you back up and running.

Good help desk representatives know that efficiency is important to not only fixing issues but also the customer service experience. Finances Online compiled help desk data from several recent studies.

  • Customers say that good customer service means being assisted by a knowledgeable representative (31%), not having to repeat their data (21%), and resolving their problem in a single interaction (33%). (Microsoft, 2019)
  • 90% of customers see problem resolution as the most critical customer service issue they have. (KPMG, 2020)
  • Customers say they prefer email for inquires (47%) with phone calls and web chats coming in tied for second and third (23% each).

You are the help desk rep’s eyes, ears, and hands. How can you help a rep resolve your issue efficiently in the first interaction? Your first call is their first-time hearing what’s happening, and they know it’s their job to be sure your computer works to get you back to work. Here are tips so you can be help desk ready when you call for support. 

Be calm.

Everything has a fix. Many years ago, I worked for a company with a client who was famous for yelling. Unfortunately, the day I was flying out for a conference, he called with an issue. After he scared most of the staff yelling, he called me when I was boarding a plane. I already had been briefed and knew the team was fixing the unexpected glitch. The client proceeded to yell at me until I had to hang up so the plane could depart. I told him I’d call back when I was on the ground and did. He yelled at me some more.

The problem was fixed while I was in flight, and his yelling didn’t help figure out an answer. As a matter of fact, most of the people in the company never wanted to speak with the client because of this consistent behavior. The moral of the story, before calling a help desk remember, being nice goes a long way in the long run. Take a deep breath and be calm.

Resist the urge to self-diagnose.

Everyone does it. Something in a computer goes haywire, and we think, I’ll Google it and find a fix. Unless you’re a computer expert, don’t do it. Calling a help desk rep and saying what you think it is, is like going to a doctor telling them you looked on WebMD. Typically we find the worst case scenario, and we all know how far that gets us in a doctor’s office, not very.

Make notes before calling.

Instead of self-diagnosing, write down exactly what’s happening, take screenshots of error messages, be factual and don’t over explain. Note when the problem started (don’t overthink it). You’ll be asked if you did a restart. Don’t be frustrated by this. The help desk rep needs to know (and yes, we all know a good restart is sometimes an easy fix). If you choose to use email to communicate, use the list of facts and screenshots in the message to the help desk rep to give them a place to start diagnosing.

Choose the right communications tool.

As noted above, people like to communicate via email over phone. If you need an immediate fix, calling is a better method then email. The help desk rep may ask to receive details via email. But don’t use it as the main method of communication if the help you need is hot.

Check your time.

If you’ve got a meeting in 30 minutes, it is probably not the best time to call a help desk with a big issue. I can think of times I’ve called for customer support and ended up on the phone for an hour. Be sure you have plenty of time for reboots and conversation. If the fix is resolved in a few minutes, it’s a relief.

Be in the right place.

Think about this not just from a metal perspective but also a physical space perspective. Don’t call from a loud coffee shop asking for support. It’s hard to help someone or receive help if you cannot hear what’s being said. Refer back to the story above and the client who called as I was boarding a plane. I not in a place to provide support. Find a quiet place to make the call. Have good access to WIFI.

Know when to escalate the issue.

It’s true that sometimes the help desk rep cannot get to the root issue. Know when it’s time to nicely nudge a rep by saying, “We seem to have done a lot. Is there someone else on your team who might be able to figure out what’s happening?” Often we find an automatic update overnight creates a repetitive issue in computer users systems. Once we figure out one person’s fix and share it with each other, the rest of the callers with the same problem have a quick resolution.

Use these tips to be an active participant to increase your overall experience and satisfaction with a representative. Working with the person helping you by staying calm, giving facts and being in the right space to find a resolution is helpful. Keep in mind, every computer problem has a fix.