Working Effectively With Your Support Reps
When someone has a question, or experiences a problem, and contacts us for support, we are eager to help. However, calling and saying "It does not work", does not tell us anything.
Many times I have had customers call and say, for example, "I ran such-and-such, and it didn’t work". From that, I can not tell if the program did not run at all, or it ran but did not give any results, or it ran and gave results, but not the results expected.
A very common one is running a report, and not getting the desired output. Since the output of a report usually depends on what the input parameters are, we need to know what those parameters were. If we run the report to check it, using different parameters, then we may very well get the expected output, and the problem is not solved. By having the exact parameters used, we should get the same results. Then, it can be determined if the results are in fact correct, or if there is a problem in the report. Many times, it is a matter of the parameters used, and what effect they have on the output generated. There are times that selecting a particular option will affect the output in ways that are not what the user expected.
The other value that having all the parameters has, is it allows us to check against the data. For example, the customer that I just worked with was questioning why an item was not showing on a report. They were requesting a report where one of the criteria was a specific code range, and the item in question did not have this code set. In this case, after several emails back and forth, requesting the parameters used, they finally sent the exact parameters. After I received them, the issue with the code was identified in about a minute.
Identifying in what way "it did not work", and what steps were taken to get there, is a great benefit. Error codes, options, parameters, even the user login, can all be relevant, and the more information that you can supply, the quicker you are likely to get a resolution.
Other information that can help us find the problem are:
Time of day the problem occurred can show a pattern for recurring problems that is more subtle. For example power problems.
Error Codes and Messages: even if these are very technical they can lead somewhere for a technician.
User ID and Permissions: you may be blocked. e.g: Admin privileges required.
Other Programs Running: your program may be waiting for another to finish or be blocked by it. e.g: Posting when registers are open.
Recent Changes: Have you applied any updates recently? Has your physical environment changed? Is this a new employee?
Are there any recent Problems in other Areas: For example the Internet was down yesterday and is now backup, or the power went out this morning, etc.