How to communicate with technical support
Technical support functions
A properly functioning technical support department is an essential part of any company that wants to offer any technology. Today’s products are not trivial, whether they are programmable substations or building materials such as sealants and adhesives. To deploy them, it is necessary to know a number of rules and procedures. We learn something from manuals, something from training, but sometimes it happens that we are stuck. Then it is support’s turn. In the following, we will look at how Domat Control System technical support works and how you should proceed to get the most out of it.
What technical support does
It provides technical information and assists product sales customers, designers and customers for whom turnkey orders have been realized. Provides training, webinars and collaborates in creating help and technical documentation.
Product sales customers, so-called integrators, together with designers are the creators of the system topology and connection documentation. They also provide assembly and production of switchboards, either on their own or with the help of specialized assembly companies. However, their most important task is the creation of application programs, including graphics and commissioning of the device. These activities also raise the most queries.
Technical support communicates in Czech, English and German. The documentation is available in Czech and English. If you need a translation into their language for your foreign customers, we will provide you with source files.
What technical support does not do
More precisely, what technical support should not do: to provide general information, such as the principles of operation of building technologies or the basics of electrical engineering and physics. Dew point, serial or parallel connection of appliances, the principle of a current protector, the function of a hydraulic dynamic pressure equalizer or protection against legionella are quite often addressed. However, this enlightenment is provided with pleasure, because we see that the problem does not concern our own products or services.
Technical support does not provide pricing information, contact your dealer or company reception to be redirected. The support technician also does not know when the goods will be delivered to you, this is the task of the logistics department. Loans of standard products can also be handled directly with logistics.
Multi-level technical support solution
Technical support usually has several levels. In Domat it is solved in three levels:
Support level 1: This is the level you will encounter the first time you contact the technical support line. There should be practitioners who have probably already solved a problem like yours. At the same time, they have experience with building technologies and can put the problem into context. This results in their questions, sometimes seemingly strange – see below.
Support level 2: These workers are approached by first level support if they do not know what to do. These are programmers, test technicians, documentation creators and other specialists who have deep knowledge of hardware and software. During normal operation, they should do their job in peace, support is not their main job. They may only be available at certain times of the day or week.
Support level 3: The greatest “magicians”, software architects, hardware developers, often external specialists. They are contacted by second-level staff if they need advice themselves. Their time is the most expensive and therefore we do not unnecessarily bother them with problems that the first two levels can solve.
This principle of escalation explains why solving more complex or non-standard problems can take some time.
How to contact support
Each company has several channels, the most common being telephone and e-mail. If the matter is not urgent, give priority to e-mail. The technician then has more time to work on the problem, thinks about the solution in advance and does not delay the customer, in addition, the customer is in full contact in the e-mail, so he can call back or send a file without having to spell the e-mail address. The e-mail message is also easier to find if you want to return to the topic later.
We recommend using the central telephone number, +420 461 100 666, as this is always redirected to the mobile phone of one of the first level technical support staff who is “on duty”. If the customer calls directly on the mobile phone of a favorite or well-known technician, it may happen that he does not call – the technician is training, has meetings and so on. He is not guaranteed to respond.
Thank you for not “playing” multiple phone sessions with several technicians at once. In case of a busy number or unavailability (eg another call on Skype), the technician then calls back “on duty”, in missed calls he has the number from which he was called. Therefore, call from the number where you will be available later.
E-mails sent to email@example.com are usually processed on the same day, at most the next working day. Please provide full contact in the report, the technician may need to find out some details quickly and prefer to call instead of depreciation.
If you do not receive a reply to your email within two days, write or call again. The message may have wandered somewhere. When we know that the solution will take us a long time, we will always respond with at least a short message to let you know that your request has been accepted and we are working on it.
The web form at www.domat.cz/produkty/technicka-podpora is a convenient way to ask a question directly from the website. It is especially useful in situations where you are browsing the web from a computer on which you do not have an e-mail program – for example, from the visualization center. We do not want to collect personal data unnecessarily, so phone and e-mail are optional. However, if you want an answer, you should include a valid contact. The query does not lead directly to technical support (it may also concern business topics), so technical questions are redirected to support, which may lead to a slight delay in our response.
Sometimes a short personal consultation is better than dozens of emails. However, always arrange a visit in advance, it could happen that the support technician works from home or from another office.
Sharing a desktop is usually an ideal way to fix a problem while showing its solution in practice. Domat uses the Teamviewer program, the version of which Quick Download V13 can be downloaded from our website, the Windows Remote Desktop, or the AnyDesk program.
If you need remote assistance, prepare one of these programs and make sure your computer is connected to the Internet before you call. The support technician is usually ready to start the session immediately.
Steps to resolve the issue
In order to solve the problem as quickly as possible and to the mutual satisfaction, it is good to follow a few simple rules:
Set a goal
It means being able to describe what I really want, how I proceeded and where and why I ended up.
Correct: “We have installed FCR013 controllers, so far only in autonomous mode – without central bus, most rooms work properly – they heat at the set 21 ° C, but several of them heat only at 14 ° C and the temperature does not rise for more, even if we change the wheel required value. ”
Wrong: “We have your thermostats here and it’s cold in some rooms.”
Use system view
This is probably the most important thing. If we look at the problem systemically, we often come up with the solution ourselves, before we can call support. The system view consists in dividing the whole (for example, non-functional temperature measurement in the PLC) into parts that are interconnected via known interfaces, and then checking one interface after another.
Correct: The outside temperature shows -50° C. I disconnect the passive outdoor temperature sensor from the cable and measure its resistance directly on the sensor. I know that at 0° C the Pt1000 measuring element has a resistance of 1000 Ohm, with increasing temperature its resistance increases. The ohmmeter shows say 1023 Ohm. According to the table that accompanies each sensor or can be searched on the Internet, this represents a temperature of around 6° C. If it corresponds to the estimated outdoor temperature, the sensor is OK. Therefore, I proceed as follows: I reconnect the sensor and disconnect the opposite end of the cable at the terminals of the switchboard or input module. I will measure the resistance again, this time a combination of cable + sensor. The value should not change significantly, only the parasitic resistance of the cable will show. If everything is OK, I focus on the input module or PLC and continue by trying only this input and disconnect all the others (pull out the connectors) so that the measurement is not affected by any interference from other inputs. I can also try to connect another, demonstrably functional sensor to the suspicious input …
Wrong: I’m calling for support: “My outdoor temperature sensor isn’t working!”
Consider whether the problem concerns measurement and control at all
Especially with equipment that has already been put into operation, there may be a problem elsewhere than in the building management system itself. We often encounter problems in IT infrastructure, air conditioning, heating.
Correct: “The hot water pump in front of the storage tank is running, but the heating does not give the required output. The tank temperature is 25 ° C. I’m going to see what the temperature on the primary looks like. There was no outage in the heating plant, is the emergency valve in the autonomous control of the exchanger station not closed? Is the strainer in the charging pump circuit clogged? Isn’t a cock accidentally closed by hand somewhere?”
Wrong: “The hot water pump is switched on and only lukewarm water is flowing from the tap, fix it!”
Describe seemingly obvious circumstances
The problem that is bothering you may have been solved by several people before you. The technical support staff will be better able to come up with a solution if you mention even seemingly insignificant facts.
Correct: “Passive temperature sensors at all inputs show tens of degrees more than the actual temperatures. It is an air handling unit with frequency converters, which are unfortunately installed directly in the switchboard. We control the inverters with analog outputs from the PLC. The cables to the sensors are in parallel with the power supplies of the cooling towers … ”
Wrong: “All temperatures are measured, it doesn’t show anything right!”
Use a concise description of the situation
The technologies we work with are not easy. It is all the more important to describe the situation clearly and concisely so that the dialogue is not misleading.
Correct: “I can’t connect to the PLC from the development environment. The notebook is connected to the PLC via a simple unmanageable switch. Physically, it is perhaps OK, the LEDs on the switch and on the Ethernet socket of the PLC are lit as usual. I haven’t tried to ping yet. ”(It was the test of IP connection and setting of IP addresses, so-called ping, that would be the first thing a support technician would ask.)
The problem was with an incorrect password.
Wrong: “Ethernet communication does not work!”
This may also be true, but in this case Ethernet (and several other layers of network communication) was without problems…
Don’t underestimate the preparation
Exceptionally, it happens that the customer leaves for the order completely unprepared: he does not have application software ready, or even a development environment installed. One of his colleagues described this situation by comparing it “hello, I bought a guitar from you yesterday and I have a concert the next day, what should I squeeze?” These are, of course, extreme cases. However, it is advisable to check the documentation before leaving, prepare for the task I will solve, download all sorts of configuration programs and, if possible, try the settings in the peace of the office or home. It may turn out that we need a special cable (such as RS232 between the modem and PLC), a reducer, a tool or a 12 V power supply.
Don’t be surprised at seemingly stupid questions
The last, but no less important rule. The support technician is actually thinking out loud. They try to proceed systemically – see above – and sometimes it may seem to ask unnecessary questions or underestimate your abilities. Let us realize that the technician does not see your situation over the phone, does not know that you have been solving the problem for several hours and you may be in mental and time stress.
“Is the switchboard energized? Is the green LED on the PLC lit, is the yellow RUN LED flashing? Is the red TX light on the I/O modules flashing? ”
Correct: “Yes, other devices under the same circuit breaker are working properly. I measured the voltage at the PLC supply terminals and there is 26 V AC. Green on the PLC is lit, yellow RUN flashes about once per second, only green on the I / O modules – red does not flash. ”
Wrong: “Sure, everything is shining as it should, I’ve checked it THREE times!!!”
Some customers are unnecessarily shy and lose hours because of experimenting. This is also not right. We recommend that you spend twenty minutes, a maximum of half an hour, and then call or write. Usually, nothing new will come to light after this time. On the other hand, we welcome when the caller first thinks about the problem for a while. This will also prepare the information for a smooth call. It has even happened several times that the customer answered himself during the inquiry – all he had to do was sort out his thoughts.
Our aim is to solve as many problems as possible immediately. Here, too, the 80:20 rule applies, so twenty percent of problems take 80 % of the time. In particular, cases where the error occurs only occasionally and therefore require long-term testing can take weeks or months. In all cases, however, we do our utmost to make our devices and programs user-friendly and open at the same time, and your feedback helps us significantly. Thank you for her and we look forward to further cooperation!