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Easing the burden of technical support - Windows 7's Problem Steps Recorder

Problem Steps Recorder - New tool from Microsoft Windows 7
Problem Steps Recorder - New tool from Microsoft Windows 7
Screen shot courtesy of Michael Toney

Have you ever needed technical support and did not know how to accurately describe your problem to the help desk or technical support representative on the phone? Perhaps you can duplicate your problem over and over, but the person on the other end of the call simply does not understand what you are describing. After all, the representative's computer is working properly, and they don't have that annoying error on the screen, or they can connect to wireless just fine!

On the other side of the spectrum, as a technical support representative, you may not be able to visualize the steps that an individual is taking to create a problem or error. Wouldn't it be nice to see exactly what the person is clicking, what order, and what exactly the error or symptom is that they are experiencing? In technical support call centers, such as Columbus, Ohio's Teleperformance where FCR (first call resolution) and AHT (average handling time) are some of a representative's key metrics for measuring performance effectiveness, such accurate relaying of information is invaluable in assisting a customer. Both the customer and the representative appreciate efficient flow of information as everyone's time is valuable.

The answer could be a great new tool from Microsoft included in Windows 7, the Problem Steps Recorder. This tool can be a massive help to you no matter which side of the phone you are on.

The Problem Steps Recorder can be started by clicking Start menu Search box, or command prompt and typing PSR.exe and clicking Open. It is basically a screen capture client that records actions such as keystrokes, mouse clicks, menu accesses, etc... and records the sequence in a stand-alone web page that can be sent to technical support through e-mail or other means.

This makes it much easier to verify the steps taken, or explain your problem accurately to technical support. The interface is a simple one-click menu, consisting of 3 commands, "Start Record", "Stop Record", and "Add Comment", making it easy for even the novice user to use. In addition there is a timer to show exactly what sequence windows or clicks, as well as errors occur in.

The program may be simplistic, but it includes detailed information that can make the difference between someone getting the support they need, or spending an hour on the phone in a loop trying to work out a verbal communication "language" that both the support representative and the customer can collaborate in. Ultimately, such a tool can relieve much frustration on the part of everyone.

Additionally, such a tool can be used to build effective knowledgebases to assist other customers. By attaching screen captures of the event, a technical support organization can assist other customers experiencing the same issue, as well as facilitate training of new representatives and helping them become effective in their support calls much quicker than "trial and error" methods.

The next time you are in need of support, shorten your call and get your point across quickly and effectively by trying Problem Steps Recorder.


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