Computers. Whether you love them or hate them, every business depends on them. When your computer or a software program isn’t working correctly, it can be incredibly frustrating. So when should you call an expert for IT support? How can you get the best outcome?
When to Call IT Support
You want to have the right balance between having your IT team on speed-dial and staying up all night to troubleshoot a problem. Our recommendation is to:
1. Check all the obvious solutions.
- Is the computer plugged in?
- Are the cables connected tightly?
- Is the monitor on?
- Is the internet working?
- Have you rebooted the computer?
We’re not trying to insult your intelligence. These things happen all the time. We once got a call because someone unplugged the server to plug in a coffee machine. Oops. Doing the basic perimeter checks saves time, money and frustration for everyone involved.
2. Spend 10-15 minutes diagnosing the problem.
- What changed recently?
- Is there anything new plugged in?
- Was anything new installed?
- What happened right before the problem started?
If you can’t figure it out in this short amount of time, document what happened.
3. STOP THERE. Call an IT support professional.
One of the biggest mistakes we see office professionals make is getting in over their head with do-it-yourself technical troubleshooting. They spend hours reconfiguring, reformatting, and reinstalling their system. By the time we get involved, the clues to “what happened” have been erased and overwritten, making the problem much more difficult to diagnose and solve.
Getting Better IT Support
We all know the quality of technical support can vary widely. At some point, every one of us has been on a call with a support technician who is completely clueless. Also, IT support may not be instantly available. You may have to wait. But here are some tips for getting the best IT support available for your business if you don’t have dedicated internal IT support.
1. Have a relationship with an IT service provider.
Some businesses prefer using a managed services provider that continually maintains their systems for a set recurring fee. Other businesses prefer to pay by the hour for a break-fix technical support. There are pros and cons of both approaches. But either way – pick an IT consultant and stick with them. They’ll get to know your business and you’ll get to know them.
2. Be kind. Be patient. Be calm.
Support technicians like to help people. You may be frustrated, but “you’ll catch more flies with honey” and have a better support experience if you keep your cool. If the support task will take a while, go grab a cup of coffee or work from a backup device if you can.
3. Document what happened.
Capture a screenshot or video when possible. Preserve the scene so your IT team can find clues to the origin of the problem.
4. Keep your systems up to date.
When systems go out of support (like Windows 7 for example) you will find fewer and fewer IT professionals who are willing or able to provide technical support. Any critical software program should be kept current.
5. Know your passwords, administrators and configurations.
For every one of our clients, we maintain a “red binder” that holds all essential information about the IT environment. When you have to reset passwords and track down who has admin permissions, it slows down the technical support process significantly.
And…ALWAYS have a reliable backup that you could restore if the problem cannot be fixed. Some problems are unrecoverable. Major malware attacks. Catastrophic hard drive failures. In these cases, the best option is to go back to the setup before the problem occurred.
If you’re looking for business IT support in Michigan or in the cloud, reach out to us. Our IT team is right-sized to give you personal attention and pragmatic advice. Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 586.263.1775.