As most of my regular readers and followers know, I do a lot of on-line technical support as well as providing support services to our resellers and ACT! Certified Consultants and one of the things I notice is that I regularly need to ask users the same questions to diagnose the problem and provide a solution.
This means that the support person's time is spent asking these and so the incident takes longer to resolve and get the user up and running. So, I thought I would provide a basic list of items to include to help any support technician resolve an incident faster.
When asking for support via email or an on-line site, it's much easier if you write your query and add any necessary information in short points rather than large paragraphs. They are easier to read and respond to. Also, if asking about multiple, unrelated issues, it's often better to do each one separately.
Not all of these will be relevant to all support calls, but the more you provide the more likely you'll get a faster solution.
If running on a LAN, supply any of the relevant items for both workstation AND server.
While these are targeted for support of ACT! by Sage, many are applicable for other software products also.
These items are usually necessary for any support incident:
* Include the full version and build of the software. This is usually found under Help | About
It is worth-while checking to see if there is an updated version available and, if so, applying it.
Remember that, with ACT!, EVERY system sharing a database MUST be of the same build and Hotfix
If related to ACT! connecting to a Microsoft Office product, also include the version for Office.
* Include the operating system - also note the service pack and if it's 32-bit or 64-bit
In Microsoft Windows, you can find this by right-clicking on My Computer and selecting Properties
* If you have an error message, include the full error.
Hint: If sending the error via email or posting to a web site, don't do this via a screen shot.
For most Windows software, you can do this most easily my clicking on the error dialogue box and pressing Ctrl-C.
Then going to the email or web post and pressing Ctrl-V.
This means you get the full error without having to re-type it
And the technician can copy directly from it into any search engine they might need to use.
* If you still think a screen shot will help to convey the problem, don't paste it into Word.
Open MS-Paint (usually in Programs | Accessories), paste it there and then "Save As" a JPG file.
This makes the file smaller in size and easier for the technician to read.
* Did you first notice the problem after an update to ACT!, Windows or anything else on your system?
* If you can replicate the problem, include the EXACT steps you take.
What you expected to happen and what actually happens?
* Do you regard yourself as technical or not? This will help a good technician provide support at the right level for you.
Which items from the following list are necessary will depend on the type of problem you have:
* Include hardware specs like RAM, Processor and, if known, Hard Drive speed (in RPM)
* Include database specs like number of contacts and file size
* If the problem is related to emailing from ACT!, include the email client you are using:
Outlook, Outlook Express, Lotus Notes, Eudora, Internet Mail (POP3/SMTP) - include the version
* If running any add-ons or plugins for ACT!, name them if they might be related to the problem (or if not sure)
* If for an issue with a PDA or Smart Phone, include the brand, model, operating system version
* What brand of anti-virus or firewall are you running?
* If your problem causes a crash or other error, see if there is anything in the Windows Event Viewer or ACT!'s logs.
For instructions to do this, see: Tools for Viewing Error Logs -
* If the problems seems database specific, have you tried to repair it? For instructions on this, see either of:
ACT! by Sage Database Repair Procedures -
ACT! 5.0 or 6.0 Database Repair Options -
You should also include anything you might have tried to resolve the problem. Some items you might try doing, depending on the type of problem could include:
* Have you checked the ACT! Knowledge Base (
This should be your first port of call as finding an answer there will take less time and get you up and running faster
Especially for common questions and errors.
* Does the problem happen with another database? Try opening the demo database and trying the steps.
Hint: The login user for the ACT! demo database is Chris Huffman with no password
* If running on a multi-user database or network:
Does the problem happen when logged into ACT! as a different user or from a different workstation?
* If related to a template, report or layout, does it happen with other files?
* If a connection issue, have you tried disabling the firewall and anti-virus for a test?
Remember that the best and fastest support option for ACT! by Sage is by working with an ACT! Certified Consultant (
), they are not only well trained, but can personalise their support to better suit your specific needs and can look at your environment and business needs to suggest improvements in ACT!'s operation, design and usefulness.
For better web searching of ACT! related information, links to support and other useful sites as well as updates on ACT!, please download the ACT! Fanatics Toolbar -
Another good site to read and subscribe to is the blog "Life and Times with ACT! by Sage" -
Please add comments if you think any other points would be useful.