How to think like a techie

by | Tech Support | 0 comments

Let’s start with the facts of life. There are three things that can’t be avoided – death, taxes and Tech Support. Much as you’d love to only put your energy into creation, connection and community, if you’ve been running your show online for more than five minutes, you’re gonna need a techie to help you at some point.

And yes, this does include me. I also need Tech Support at times. This might come as a shock to some, but I really don’t know everything about tech. It’s not the 80s anymore and there’s hardware and software and networks and clouds and protocols and scripts and … Ok you get the picture. let’s put the geek back in the corner.

But there is an art to getting tech support effectively. A way that will save you time, save you money and help prevent your lappy being hurled against the wall.

How to get it wrong, so wrong.

I see people taking this approach all the time, which all too often leads them into being more confuddled and confused and overwhelmed than ever.

SIDE NOTE – if you’ve been doing any of these and have a massive dent in the middle of your forehead, you are NOT ALONE.

Here’s two things I see when emerging business owners turn their minds to tech:

Going into Facebook groups and asking what the best systems are (the extroverts)

Or

Going into deep research mode, spending hours reading “tech tools I use” blog posts from other business owners, reading tech tools’ sales pages, maybe even setting up a spreadsheet to compare system features (hello fellow introverts)

Both these approaches are at best a massive time suck and at worst a recipe for holding your biz back by months (or even years).

So what to do instead, I hear your cry!

Buckle up Buttercup, I’ve just promoted you to the head of your newly founded IT Department.

I’d love to give you a rainbow unicorn and say you’re never going to have to engage with tech support but I’d be a bare-faced liar.

But I can give you the superpower of using tech support effectively.

If there’s one thing certain with tech, it’s that it will go wrong at some point. Anyone who guarantees you 100% success is either a bullcrap merchant or is going to invoice you thousands.

Tech can be extremely reliable though, which is one of the main reasons people get so upset when it does break.  For example, did you know that email isn’t guaranteed to be delivered? And that it can take anything from 2 seconds to 2 weeks for an email to arrive? It’s rare, granted, but the point being tech will go wrong at some point.

Tech can go wrong when you’re setting it up or when it’s out in the field. The approach you take it the same in both cases.

First, calm your tits

First, DO NOT PANIC. Capitals because this is vital. Ok, you will panic, that’s natural. But before you take any action, you have to rid yourself of that panic. Pace around the room, shout at your computer, take a break (even overnight if you can), meditate.

Do what you do to chill yourself to ICY FOCUS

Don’t feel you have to do it all yourself, but similarly don’t make your problem into someone else’s problem. It’s your biz, and you are accountable for it. But you don’t have to do it all alone. Being your own Tech Guru is a bit of a misnomer. It really means that if you can’t do it yourself, then you know who to go to for help and how to get the best out of them.

Who to go to?

The systems tech Support is your first port of call. If you’ve paid for a system, you should have support with it, it’s built into the price. Contact them, they are there to provide support.

You can ask the Great Internet Public – which is usually the first port of call for most – but be a bit wary. These people may not know the tech you’re having a problem with or if they do, they use it in a different way to you. I’m not saying don’t listen to them, I’m saying don’t take their advice as gospel.

How to ask for tech support

First up, here’s what you should NEVER do. Seriously, if I see a call for help along these lines I have zero inclination to help:

Example one

“Gah! X isn’t working, I’ve been on it for HOURS and it’s just so USELESS! Does anyone know what’s wrong with this?”

Example Two

“I can’t get X working, I’m so stupid and thick are there any techies out there who can help me?”

What’s wrong with these?

The first one is an angry reply. This person is obviously in panic mode.

The second one is a plaintive cry. This person might not be panicking but they’ve chosen to dump all their power and play the victim.

(By the way, I totally feel these things when I’m working through problems. The difference with me is I don’t put them on the internet. Yay me and yay you cos you won’t anymore.)

Both approaches also give no detail whatsoever about what the problem is. As a techie, not only to I have to deal with someone’s emotions (which requires us to switch thinking away from the side of the brain required for tech problem solving) I also have to tease out of them what they think the problem might be; what they want to do, what they’ve tried, what result they were expecting and what result they got and so on. I don’t do my best work this way.

In both of them as well, there’s an inference that they can hand the problem over to someone else. Usually for free. Sigh.

How to make tech support fall in love with you

The ones I leap on with joy are like this:

“Hey all. I’m using X and I’m trying to do Y. So far, I’ve done A, B and C. I was expecting result D but got result E. Can anyone point me in the direction of where I’m going wrong?”

I LOVE this approach. They’ve taken responsibility for the problem, they’re happy to fix it themselves, they’re not panicking, and they’ve given some detail. Lovely! I’m much more likely to jump in and reply, the answer I give will be a lot more helpful and they’re likely to get their problem solved a LOT quicker.

Also – be prepared to pay someone for their time fixing it. There are a lot of people I see on Facebook who say things like “ah – I know what it might be, inbox me and I’ll sort it out for you”. Now, that’s FINE if it takes no longer than 5-10 minutes to fix. I’m always happy to help with a quick fix.

But expecting me to log in to a system, find the problem, then present the answer clearly and concisely? That’s a skill and I use that with my clients only.

(People often ask me if I’m afraid that people starting out, who are offering to help for free on the internet will put me out of business. My belief is that to do that long term will put them out of business, not me. So no, I’m not worried.)

Tech Support Cheat Sheet

To sum up, if you have to go for tech support, here’s your cheat sheet:

Keep a record of what you’ve done ready to hand over to tech support.

Always tell them what you hope to achieve

Tell them how you’ve tried to achieve that

State what unexpected outcome you got – include error messages, I know they look like a robot’s greeting card, but they mean something to techies

Include tech details like what operating system you’re using and which web browser you have, down to the version (find that in Help – About)

Add any other info which may or may not be relevant, but state that you’re not sure if it’s helpful or not

Need a hand?

I work with clever, creative and curious coaches to free them from tech overwhelm so they can focus fully on community, content and creation.

If you fancy a chat, pop your deets into the form below and we’ll see if you & I can make sweet tech together.

Hi I’m Jenn.

I am the love child of Marie Kondo and Caitlin Moran, if that love child was a sweary systems and process nerd.

I write about the online business world. I make it funny. Because if you’re not having fun, you may as well just get a job.

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