From the Actrix Online Informer October 2008
by Rob Zorn
Help us to help you
Our help desk crew are a skilled and likeable lot, and they're there to help Actrix customers. Unlike many other ISP help desks, we don't require them to follow specific formulas in helping you. They're able to be flexible and friendly. If you have a problem or question feel free to give the helpdesk a call on 0800 ACTRIX (228-749) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The Help Desk is free and open between 8 am and 11 pm every day.
Many things can conspire together to produce a successful Internet connection or a poor one, and problems are often caused by unexpected factors. Getting to a solution is often a more obscure process than it may seem. Therefore the ability to sort through everything and eliminate red-herrings is a valuable skill.
You can be of assistance to the help desk staff by being prepared when you call. The more information you can provide, the more swiftly they will be to help. Here are a few suggestions:
Know your user name, e-mail address or customer number: Help desk staff need to identify you before they can help you. Check that your account is open and functioning as it should. Establishing your account details can be time-consuming if these details aren't able to be provided.
Have your computer switched on and ready, and be at it when you call: If at all possible, get your phone near the computer (or vice-versa), as talking with you about the problem while you shout instructions down the hall to someone in another room is really going to make things difficult for all concerned.
If things aren't going as they should, try a re-boot: Often the Internet stops working because there is a temporary problem with your operating system, a simple re-boot will fix. Alternately if you have a broadband connection try turning your modem / router off and back on again, giving it 2-3 minutes to reconnect. See if things are now okay before you call the help desk.
Take note of error messages: There are a number of error messages that can be served up to you at various times when things go wrong and usually these are relevant to the problem and helpful. If you're striking a problem, and you get an error message, write it down or memorise its main points before you call. That way you can inform the help desk person and they can begin to narrow down the cause of the problem right away.
Is the problem affecting web site browsing, e-mail or both?: If you find web pages aren't loading, do a quick Send and Receive with your e-mail to check that you can connect to the mail servers okay. If e-mail is your problem, have a quick browse on the Internet to see whether web pages load. It's often really helpful if the help desk staff can know the extent of the problem and what it's affecting.
Check our state-of-the-network messages: Often you can save your own time and ours by checking our state of the network messages. If we are experiencing technical difficulties, we'll usually put a message on our web page stating what the problem is and when we expect it fixed. If you're experiencing a problem, but you can still browse, have a look at our home page (www.actrix.co.nz). You may find the answer there and not need to call. Also, when and if you do call, our auto-attendant phone greeting message will allow you to press the "1" button to hear a recorded message about a current problem and its estimated time of fix. Hearing this may help you understand that the problem is not yours, and that things should return to normal at a given time.
Know your version of Windows: To properly diagnose your problem the help desk staff member will want to know what sorts of settings you have but these settings can be located in different places. It will save time if you can tell them what version of Windows you have (98, 2000, ME, XP, Vista, etc). If you use a Apple/Macintosh, or any other operating system, it would be good to let the help desk person know right away.
Has anything been changed recently?: If recent changes have been made to your computer or its configuration(s), let the helper know right away. This may save him or her having to think down a few blind alleys. Have programs recently been installed or removed? Has your machine been serviced recently? Have any of the cords been removed or replaced? Has someone else in the house been making changes? If at all possible, check into these things before you call.
What were you doing at the time things went belly-up?: As soon as something goes wrong and puts you in a situation where you think you may need help desk assistance, make a note as to what you were doing. What programs were open and which keys did you press? Were you doing anything differently this time around?
Passwords: Password problems are probably the most common reasons for customer calls. Check that capslock key before you call. Passwords are case-sensitive, so if your capslock key is on when you're typing in your password, you're going to get an error.
Check out our online help pages: There's an 'Online help' section of the main menu at www.actrix.co.nz. If you have a spare moment, have a look through the various pages of information and tutorials before something goes wrong.
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