In my last entry, I discussed the benefits of using technical support and the importance of handling issues promptly to maintain user support and morale. So now that you are calling support, allow me to address a few key things you can do, as the user, to expedite any support call regardless of the issue. At IQMS, we consider each support call as an opportunity to partner with our customer and identify the best possible solution to the challenge at hand. Where the issue and outcome are dynamic, the means by which we get to each solution are often the same. The key to resolving any support issue is information. Likewise, the lack of information, or worse yet, wrong information can be the bottleneck of even the most basic support call.
A common phrase heard on our support floor is, "A good answer later is better than a wrong answer now". So while we strive for short call resolution times and first call resolution whenever possible, we won't sacrifice quality and accuracy to accomplish it. Our focus is always on delivering the best solution, even if that means it takes a little longer.
Generally speaking, the information that will be needed when calling any technical support team can be grouped in three main categories. Having this information up front when you first call in will help expedite the issue and have you on your way to a resolution much quicker than if you have to transfer this information over multiple calls.
1. First things first - who are you? Have any information necessary to indentify you and your company with the support group ready when you call. For IQMS customers, that means your name and company. However, for other support groups that could mean a service agreement number, a password, payment information, or other authentication information. Having this ready promptly at the start of the call is very helpful. Also, if you have a parent company, make sure you know which company name your service agreement is under. The other information I like to include in this category is version information. Know what version of the software you are running as this is almost always needed up front by the technician. For IQMS users, this can often mean your EnterpriseIQ Release and Module version plus the Oracle Server and/or client versions you are running. This information can be obtained from using the Help-> About menu for the module you are in. Also, using the 'Email Support' option from this screen will ensure that the necessary version information will automatically be included in your email to IQMS.
2. What's the problem? Be prepared to talk about specifics with regards to what the problem is. Sometimes, the person experiencing the problem and the person calling are not the same. If that is the case, get as much information from the actual user as possible and have them on standby to be part of the call if needed. You will need to know things like:
- The series of events leading to the issues or steps to reproduce - the more exact the better.
- If there is an error message involved, the exact text of the message is needed. Screenshots are great additions.
- Is it reproducible or was it an isolated event?
- Does it happen every time, on all workstations, as any user, etc. or is it limited to a specific machine, user, or circumstance?
- Does the operating system of the workstation make a difference in the results?
- Did it just start happening, or has it been going on for awhile? Was it triggered by a specific event?
The more pertinent information you are able to provide, the better. Even pertinent negatives should be included in the information you provide to the technician and can help eliminate steps in troubleshooting you will be asked to do.
3. What are you trying to achieve? - Sometimes the gap between issue and resolution derives from trying to put a square peg in a round hole. A good support technician will strive to understand the desired end result opposed to merely giving a quick answer to the single specific question asked of him. For example, an end user recently called IQMS Technical Support with a "quick question" on doing a physical inventory with EnterpriseIQ. The user asked, "We are going to do a cycle count tomorrow for a few specific items. Do we need to use the scanners for that process or can we just enter tag quantities manually in the system. The quick answer would have been, you can do a physical inventory either with manual tag entries or by scanning the serial numbers. It would have been a two minute call and a first call resolution. However, it most likely would have also resulted in additional calls after the fact with an unhappy user who didn't get the results they were expecting. Thankfully, the technician didn't take that route. Instead, they asked a question in return. After a full discussion, a few more questions, and twenty minutes later, the user hung up with a full understanding of both ways they could handle their cycle count the next day and the best solution for their desired result. Make sure you have a clear picture of your desired outcome and are prepared to discuss those details with the technician. The more you are able to convey to the technician, the better their ability will be to assist you with all your options.
Remember that the support technician, at least at IQMS, is on your team. They want to provide you with the best solution possible. Having the necessary information available will help them help you.