Help Your IT Department: Help Yourself

November 16th, 2011

It is a given that you will need to get some assistance from your IT service provider at some point.  However, it is hard for them sometimes to help you because of their busy schedule, trying to solve a lot of people’s difficult problems.  When seeking IT support, know that they cannot read your mind, and it’ll help them solve your problem if you are able to offer as much detailed information as possible in the initial request.  Here are some tips to make the process more streamlined for both of you.

Write an Informative Email Subject Line
Often, your IT service provider will get swamped with requests, some requiring immediate assistance, such as “Our servers have crashed and we have no back up system in place,” and a few that are far less urgent – “I can’t seem to turn up the volume on my headphones.” To help them appropriately prioritize requests, use a descriptive subject line. For example, “Installed ___ got error _____” will tell them what the issue is right away, and is much more helpful than writing “THIS IS BROKEN!!!!” which offers no actual description of the problem.

Details, Details, Details
In the body of your support request email, you should add all details you can, such as what OS you use, what actions you’ve taken, and what was the content of any error messages you saw. Error messages may not covey much to those who are not in the IT field, but they do to those in IT! Statements such as “followed some steps I saw online” are ambiguous to the recipient of your email and they may not be able to diagnose the problem without contacting you for further information. It is essential to explain the issue in full.

Be Frank
Your IT provider will probably be busy most of the time, so while details are important, when communicating your issue be sure to keep unnecessary information to a minimum. Simply record the essential information and send the message along. Too much needless detail can delay how quickly the problem is resolved and add to your frustrations.

In the end, you are all busy people and your IT services provider wants to help you quickly and efficiently. Help them do so by following the tips above!

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