Before joining Intact Software I spent a number of years working in a support/customer services environment dealing with customers with different levels of IT expertise. Over the years, I have dealt with a variety of IT related issues; some hardware related, some software related and many other ‘user related’ errors (more commonly known as ‘user errors’).
One characteristic that still stands out today is the lack of information supplied when reporting an issue. My aim with this post is to help you, the end user (and in return, your primary contact) to quickly find a resolution to your problem. To do this, it is necessary to furnish your contact with as much information as possible from the outset.
Below, I have outlined 10 steps you can take before contacting your channel partner. Not all steps may be necessary but your overall goal is to provide as much information as you can. The better informed your support personnel is, they quicker the troubleshooting can begin, the faster your issue can be resolved.
10 Tips before contacting your Intact channel partner’s support department
- Can you replicate / reproduce the error / problem?
What steps did you take to arrive at this error or to cause the system to crash? What data was entered, what fields were populated, what controls (i.e. mouse or keyboard) were used? All factors are equally suspect until we are able to isolate the cause of the issue.
Giving the steps to recreate an issue will vastly increase the issue turnaround time – we need to know what breaks the program before we can fix it. Recreating an issue can often be the most difficult and time consuming part of troubleshooting. If you know what you have done, please document the process step by step.
- Does the error occur every time?
Can you recreate the issue time after time or was this a once off? As you can imagine, an intermittent issue is the worst type of issue to troubleshoot. You can’t fix something until you know what breaks it
- Exact error message
What is the exact error message that you are getting? Ideally, take a screenshot of the error – it’s important the exact error message is captured. Partial or incomplete error messages generally won’t suffice as they may be omitted from knowledge base search results. Even a typo can adversely affect these results.
- Link to more information
Often there is a link which provides further information (online or somewhere on your computer’s hard drive – possibly a log file). One may think this is jargon, however, this information may be very useful to support or development staff. Intact iQ gives the user an option to send this information directly to the Intact Software support and development team. You can reference the time and computer where you sent this message from. This may be useful in a case where the channel partner needs to contact the software vendor.
- Are other users having the same problem?
Can a colleague carry out the same steps successfully? Is the issue specific to a user or to a PC? Can your IT people (if available) assist with troubleshooting the issue at hand? Is this a PC/network issue?
- Has this happened before?
Is this something that was fixed previously? Is this something that used to happen and previously seemed to ‘fix itself’? Has anyone else in your company come across this issue before? Perhaps they have already fixed the issue or know what the cause is.
- What have you tried already?
What steps have you taken in an effort to fix the problem? Have you tried changing some company /configurator settings? Have these setting been changed back or have you left the setting enabled/disabled as the case may be. Have these changes affected the error? Are you getting the same error message or has the error changed?
- What is your current setup?
Many support cases submitted have already been resolved i.e. it may be a “known issue” that you don’t know about. What operating system are you using? With regard to Intact iQ; What version of .net is installed on your PC? What version of SQL server is your company using?
- What has changed?
When did this problem first occur? Have any system or application updates been applied recently? Have you upgraded any hardware? Installed or uninstalled any software? Again check with your IT people (if available). If something has changed on your side and your channel partner doesn’t know about it, the case may be forever unresolved as support personnel could be missing a vital piece of the puzzle.
- What are your contact details?
Your channel partner may need to liaise with you for more information or remotely access your PC. They may request a back-up of your data/configuration etc. Communication is vital when getting to the bottom of an issue – leave contact information and specify a good contact time for your support provider to make contact with you.
I hope you find the above useful. By providing this information to your support provider you will not only save aggravation on both sides but could also save a whole lot of time. And time is money, after all!