Spotlight: Support 101, Etiquette & Tips
Company Spotlight by Jon Fossheim, Videonor Support Technician Apprentice
When I started my time here in Videonor, I did not quite know what to expect. I was fresh out of high school where I learned what it’s like being part of an traditional IT-Department, but this information is almost inapplicable where I am now. 2 years later – looking back at my first few months here, I realize not only how much the videoconferencing industry has grown, but also how I have grown when it comes to customer support and troubleshooting. I guess that is what I love about working here. To be given an arena to evolve and learn from the best. Now that we have new techies with us, I would like to give them (and anyone listening) a portion of what I have learned so far.
Customer Support Etiquette
Breathe, don’t panic
I try my best to lower my shoulders and take a step back to look at the issue as a whole. Sometimes **** hits the fan and you panic. Strong emotions like rage and panic will not help you and it will take your focus away from the task at hand.
Smiling will set a positive tone for your video call (remember to smile off camera as well, it really does affect the tone of your voice and writing, try it!), which makes it easier to talk to the customer. Smiling will make you look confident and it is important to make the customer feel like they are in good hands.
It does not matter if you get contacted via video, voice or email – the message is the same, listen. Take your time to listen to everything the customer has to say, and take notes! Every little detail they can give you could be helpful, and if you are good at taking notes you will not have to go back to request the same information twice.
Solving the Problem
Once you have listened to the customer and established an understanding of their situation, use the information you have gathered to create an overview of what you know. Remember – you & your team are a fountain of knowledge! Compare your case to older cases, ask your colleagues if they have seen anything similar, use forums, blog posts, official release documents or even flowcharts! I really like Vyopta’s ”Troubleshooting a Video Call”. Now begin eliminating causes. Take your time and go through them one by one.
Consult the OSI Model, always. If you’re not familiar with this model, Lifewire has a great breakdown of the layers. Going through each layer of the
OSI Model will help you paint a picture of what is going on and where the issue resides.
Once you’ve identified the problem, the next steps are to find a solution for it. Usually finding a solution for a problem is a lot easier than actually figuring out why something is broken. All you need to do now is communicate to the customer what caused the problem and what you did to solve it. This way, in the future your customer may be able to solve issues on their own, and will walk away with a better understanding of their system.
If you are unable to solve your customer’s problem on the first phone call (either identifying it or solving it) – be transparent. Let the customer where you are in the process, and a timeframe you hope to meet. It is important to let the customer that you are working hard to help them out, and even if it’s not solved right away. Their issue is your own until you can fix it.
Some knowledge I’ve accumulated over the last few years at Videonor has given me some insight into quickly solving support issues. Some of the most common issues I find resides within layer one of the OSI Model; the “Physical Layer” – Wifi issues.
Reasons your Wifi could be the culprit:
- In most office buildings (and in residential neighborhoods, too), many different Wifi networks compete to use the same radio spectrum. This causes unpredictable slowdowns – we call it Wifi “weather.” Wifi congestion on a busy network becomes a vicious cycle. Congestion in this case, is translated into overlapping WiFi Bands which ultimately causes dropped packets(a packet is a unit of data made into a single package that travels along a given network path), which have to be retransmitted, which leads to more congestion, which leads to more dropped packets, and so on… Like a traffic jam!
- Wifi systems are exceptionally delicate to radio “noise.” Microwave ovens are particularly good at messing up your connections.
- Wifi gets worse the farther you get from your Wifi access point. Especially if you are transmitting through walls. All of this affects live audio and video calls more than any other kind of network traffic. If you are streaming a video from Youtube, your computer is buffering that video and can afford to wait for a few packets to be retransmitted. But on a video call, there is no time to buffer (doing so would introduce extra delay and make the call a bad experience). So any dropped packets mean freezing video and stuttering audio.
Using an Ethernet connection eliminates all of the above issues. Your data packets go straight to and from your Internet router with almost no opportunities for interference. You may still sometimes see issues with a video call, but if your local connection is Ethernet, rather than Wifi, those issues will be with your (or someone else on the call’s) Internet connection, not your local network.
We always recommend that people use Ethernet for video calls whenever possible, but if you need to use Wifi and are having issues with your video calls, here are some things to try:
- Move your Wifi access point to the most central location that you possibly can. The closer you are to your access point, the better your signal is likely to be.
- If you have a large office or home, consider one of the newer Wifi systems that makes it easy to setup multiple access points.
- Check and see if you are using the older, 2.4Ghz Wifi band. If so, it will probably help a lot to move to the 5ghz band. Some Wifi access point only supports 2.4ghz.
I hope these tips help & best of luck with your next support ticket!