In customer service technical support, your staff’s ability to troubleshoot and diagnose problems for clients is a key component of customer satisfaction. Accurate and faster troubleshooting leads to higher customer satisfaction scores, helps improve first call resolution, and saves your staff and customers time.

You may have a support team who possesses advanced technical knowledge, but if they don’t systematically go through a troubleshooting and diagnostic process, they could be missing the root of the problem, applying temporary fixes, and spending longer on the issue than is necessary.

To help your team improve their troubleshooting and diagnostic skills, you need to teach them how to apply problem solving and critical thinking skills. A consistent process is also a crucial component of troubleshooting. Follow our five essential troubleshooting and diagnostic tips to help your team improve their practices.

Troubleshooting and diagnostic essential skill #1: Never assume

When customers call with a problem, it can be instinctual for technical support teams to jump to conclusions about what the issue is. Their assumption may be correct – or it may be false – and the “fix” could end up causing further problems. The first step in troubleshooting and diagnostic customer service, therefore, is never assume.

Troubleshooting and diagnostic essential skill #2: Listen carefully

A key lesson to remember in troubleshooting and diagnostics is that your customers don’t necessarily speak the same language as your technical support staff – figuratively speaking. While both may be speaking English, the definition your customers have for a term, or the manner in which they describe the problem, may not be the “correct” way to refer to the issue. Similarly, your technical support team may be so immersed in the products that they are unable to drop their jargon, leaving the customer more confused.

To fix a problem, the burden is on the technical support team to carefully listen and ask questions. For example, if the customer states that it’s a connection issue, make sure the rep doesn’t also conclude this is the problem until the issue has been further investigated. Learning to listen carefully to customers, interpret their way of describing the problem, and asking questions in a non-jargon way (so the customer actually understands the terms), are important communication skills when diagnosing issues.

Troubleshooting and diagnostic essential skill #3: Establish priorities

Technical glitches are not always as simple of a fix as we wish they could be; frequently, there are multiple issues going on that are causing the malfunction. As part of the logical steps to go through when training your team, coach them to prioritize. If there appear to be multiple issues, what is the sequence in fixing the problems? Typically, there is an order of steps to go through so that fixing one issue out of sequence doesn’t undo another solution that was already applied. Teach your team to look at the issue holistically before immediately diving in and trying to fix and diagnose the “major” problem. Have them think through the other malfunctions that could be occurring, and then prioritize where to start.

Troubleshooting and diagnostic essential skill #4: Confirm and validate before taking action

Diagnostics is a logical process, whereby the technical support rep takes information, applies it to what he or she knows, and systematically works through potential fixes. Once potential solutions are arrived at, your reps should then go through the process of confirming and validating. Research, cross-reference, and test before the problem/solution is verified.

Troubleshooting and diagnostic essential skill #5: Understand why the fix worked

Oftentimes, a technical support team member will understand how to fix a problem but not understand the underlying cause of the problem. Incomplete knowledge of how the whole system works together is not true diagnostics – it’s simply fixing an issue, without being mindful of how the solution could affect other components in the system. In your technical support training, make sure your reps understand how the complete system works, and when they apply fixes, teach them to think through why the fix worked and how their solution may have impacted other components in the system.

Teach your team how to approach technical support – not just “do” technical support

If you simply teach your team how the technology works and how to fix the issues, without teaching them how to logically go through a troubleshooting and diagnostic process, you are only giving them half of the necessary skills required for successful technical customer support. Training your team how to think, go through a mapping process, and apply logic are essential technical support skills that will elevate your company’s diagnostic and troubleshooting abilities to the next level, which will improve your ability to offer great customer service. Follow our five tips outlined above, and you’ll be on your way to improving how your company approaches diagnostic troubleshooting and customer service.