Help Tech Support, The Sky Has Fallen


It is inevitable. No matter what your business, online or off, technical problems are bound to happen. They will happen without (apparent) rhyme or reason, they will strike at any time – often at most inappropriate times. Yet, many small businesses fail to work out some kind of emergency support.

Here’s what I’m talking about. You are launching a product, tested everything. The first few orders come in without problems but suddenly, all hell breaks lose. Your web site goes down or your order system quits. Irate emails start pouring in. You try to fix it but realize you have no clue what to do.

You call on your trusted developer. Bad news. Since they’ve heard nothing from you nor have you requested to be on their schedule, they’ve booked out their time to other clients who are working on a time sensitive job. She replies she can probably squeeze in an hour to look at the problem end of tomorrow but that’s not a promise of a fix at the end of tomorrow. It’ll all depend on what she finds. On top of that, she’ll have to work around the other clients’ jobs.

One whole day of doing nothing. That’s pure agony. Marketing wise, you may never recover the momentum. You say OK to her but try look for another developer who can look at the problem right now. Maybe ask if your friends on Twitter may know someone. They do and the stand in is hired. But because they themselves are not familiar with your set up, they take more time trying to understand the system, poking around.

Finally, the first developer comes in the next day, fixes the problem in 2 minutes flat. You end up with lots of down time, a ton of stress, lost momentum and 2 bills.

This scenario can so easily be avoided if you had simply negotiated an emergency support option with your existing programmer. And of course, better planning helps.

Most developers know that technical problems to not discriminate nor do they take holidays. Many will help you as soon as they can break free because we know it is frustrating. But a client who always expects you to be there at the drop of the hat during all hours and days of the week is also one who’ll soon be fired.

So what do you do? If you haven’t yet discussed an emergency support plan with your resident techie, do so. Offer to pay a little bit more for being available to you on short notice. You may be paying more per hour for emergencies, but it’ll still be worth it because you have less stress, the problem is taken care of quickly and you don’t look like a poor planner to ‘friends’ on social networks.

Once you have that emergency net set, it’s time to work on the planning. Here are some things you can do to reduce the need to call for emergency tech support.

  • When launching anything, always inform tech support ahead of time. If it’s a particularly new item or big launch, something that makes you nervous, consider paying them to be on standby.
  • If your web host is upgrading, moving or doing anything. Let your tech team know.
  • Keep tech support in the loop. The more they know about what you are working on the easier for them to trace problems.
  • Don’t implement anything big during Friday, weekends or holidays if you can help it. If something must be launched for the weekend, makes sure you do a couple of dry runs.
Lynette Chandler
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  1. Gawd Lynette, just reading the scenario made me cringe. You see I’m in the midst of developing my first email marketing campaign. There are so many parts and while I’m not an idiot technically, I am not a geek either. So setting up the systems is VERY confusing at times.

    One piece of advice I would give is to have materials ready that address technical problems and our sincere efforts to resolve them. This would go out in the form of an email. If the volume is modest I would call the parties affected and personally give them piece of mind that their money is safe until the problem is fixed.

    This personal touch would be my first choice as it it elevates my brand in the distressed buyers eyes. Some times technology is just too impersonal.

    My efforts in everything I do MUST be on-brand.

    On the systems provider side, I suggest that they have a live chat area for Tech help. I use and love this type of support. As you say, planning is the answer from all perspectives.

  2. In my business planning process, I’ve been considering implementing some form of do-it-yourself emergency help via my new company’s website for existing clients. That way, if for some reason we’re not available to help, they have an alternate resource for a fix. Some sort of FAQ or “common solutions” list may be a good starting point. That way, I can still provide computer support to my customers without the need to be at their beck and call 24/7. Win-win!

  3. @Ed: Excellent advice! I am 100% in agreement. The system we need to set up is not so much for outsiders but a quick guideline that should answer the crucial question, “What do we do if there is a complete melt down?”

    @Your friendly neighorhood computer guy: I think you should do it. A knowledge base is one of the first places I head to when in need of help. It really can cut down a huge load.

  4. Deffinitely tech help is key!

  5. WHile technical problems is unavoidable, the single best piece of advice is to always have your data backed up. Even today, people dont do this properly.