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Not everyone is computer savvy, and from time-to-time we all need to call in some expert help.

If you find yourself needing to call in a computer pro to your home or business, here are some tips to consider on how to get the most out of your tech support visit:


  1. Know your schedule:
    • When calling for an appointment, have your calendar ready to go so that when prospective time slots are offered, you can be quick to say yay or nay.


  2. Time is everything:
    • If your computer takes 20 minutes to turn on, please do not start the conversation with, “it takes 20 minutes to turn on, here, I’ll show you.”
    • Have your systems fired up and ready to go.
    • IT professionals bill by the hour, it is rude to tack on extra questions after the bill has been written up.
    • Our Time; Your Dime.


  3. Time is everything: Part II
    • Some problems are really trivial to solve; free, over the phone.
    • So when you call, have your computer ON and ready.
    • If you say, “Oh, let me just turn it on and see if that will work”, you’ve lost your window of opportunity, and your tech will simply schedule an in-home visit.


  4. Make a list:
    • Before your appointment, make a list of the problems you are having and the questions you have.
    • Be clear on what is troubling you.  “It doesn’t work” or “It’s broken” isn’t enough.
      • What doesn’t work?  When doesn’t it work?  Is the computer slow for all programs, or is it just slow on the internet?  All internet sites, or just one in particular?
      • Are there any error messages?  These are a good thing to have when trying to troubleshoot a misbehaving computer
    • Make sure your IT technician knows the extent of your list so that they block off an appropriate amount of time.
    • This ensures things are not rushed or forgotten, and will help keep everyone focused on specific objectives.


  5. Have resources ready to go:


  6. Frustration is contagious:
    • Your technician understands that you really really  need your computer up and running now!, but persistently reminding them of how frustrated you are doesn’t help. It will likely make them frustrated and possibly overlook suitable solutions to your problem.
    • Calm down and leave the situation to the professional. That’s why you called them in the first place, right?


  7. Give your IT consultant some room:
    • You will never get the best results from anyone if you hover over their shoulder.  Trust them and leave them alone to do their professional best or decide they are not a fit for you or your organization and terminate the session.
    • IT work requires concentration and thought.  Please do not interrupt them with every question that pops into your head.  Silence does not need to be filled with meaningless chatter.  If your words are less important than silence, keep quiet.
    • Most IT techs will happily answer your questions as to “why is it broken?” after they’ve have had more than 10 seconds in front of the computer.
    • Remember, this is not a collaborative project. You called an IT technician to fix a problem, not to work on the problem side-by-side.
    • I am happy to have you sit with me while I work and I will try to explain the salient points as I go, but I don’t want you standing behind me jiggling the change in your pocket while subjecting me to a barrage of questions about my every move.


  8. Hands Off
    • When a tech is on-site, do not start dusting, organizing cables, or playing with your device
    • I cannot count how many times a new computer setup has been brought to a crash because the owner decided NOW was the time to figure out the power cables and unplugged the entire works. This happens daily. STOP!, don’t touch that!
    • If the tech working on your iPhone/iPad/Galaxy/Surface/whatever puts your device down, do not immediately snatch it up and start fiddling… chances are, they are in the middle of working on it.


  9. Keep on topic and to the point:
    • Keep to the facts and answer questions honestly.
    • Do not pepper your tech person with distracting (and often irrelevant) questions.
    • Long background stories are not needed.


  10. Put Fido away:
    • Personal Pet-Peeve: I don’t care if he’s really friendly or if she’s really excited to see company.  I don’t want your dog jumping on me, I don’t want your dog’s hair all over me, and I don’t want to smell like dog for the rest of the day.  I also don’t want your dog knocking over my equipment, getting into your newly opened computer case, or generally interfering in any work I am doing.  For best results, put Fido in the back yard.
    • I’ve honestly been told, “oh, he hardly ever bites”.  Yeah, that’s nice.


  11. Understand terms and conditions before work commences:
    • Make sure you know how much your IT consultant charges for an in-home / on-site visit.  Get a best-guess estimate on how long the visit will take and what your final bill is likely going to cost.  If you have a limit to your budget, make sure you communicate that with your technician and ensure they understand.
    • If you can’t afford to fix your computer, do not call in a technician.


  12. Virus, Worms, and Trojans, oh my!:
    • Determining the origin of a virus can be pretty tricky and time consuming. Your technician will usually spend their time removing the virus and patching your system against future problems, rather than spending time investigating the source of the virus.
    • All too often people want to blame someone, some program, or some action on why they fell victim to a virus.  In the digital age, you will likely pick up a digital bug.  Yes, it may have been an attachment your nephew opened when he was visiting, yes it may have been a website your house sitter went to, but NO, I cannot pin-point it nor will I testify to that effect.  You had a virus, you are all cleaned up, you have the latest antivirus / security software, you know more now than you did yesterday, let’s move on.
    • See: How did I get a virus?


  13. I can explain it for you, but I can’t understand it for you.
    • You may have to do some homework (i.e., read a book) in order to fully get your question answered.


  14. Errors can be a good thing:
    • Being able to reproduce the error is vital to troubleshooting.  When a tech is able to have the error re-occur, please do no jump in front of the screen and say, “there!, now I don’t feel so bad, it even happens to you”.
    • One example of an error is all we need; having you sit at the computer demonstrating how the error message appears on every website isn’t helpful.  Show us your problem and move out of the way.
    • When a tech opens programs and files on your computer (i.e., Picasa) they are most likely testing performance and functionality and are not interested in hearing the full background story of your trip to Italy.


  15. Passwords – the key to a healthy relationship with your tech guy:
    • Your email requires a password.  Your user account requires a password.  Your wireless network requires a password.  They ALL require passwords.
    • Knowing them can save a lot of time.
    • Knowing them can save a lot of money.


August 20, 2012 – Originally written.
February 26, 2013 – Updated