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What to Do When Tech Problems Strike

March 11 2014

mistakeTechnology is a wonderful thing. When your devices function properly and you know how to leverage them, your work and personal lives run so much more efficiently. However, when your electronics are down, your business is down, too.

This is especially true for real estate agents. Not only are most agents mobile--using their smartphone, laptops, and tablets on the go--but as independent contractors, they have no employer IT department to turn to when their computer, phone, or printer stops working.

Some try the DIY troubleshooting route--but too often this ends in wasted time, energy, and frustration. So where can an agent turn in a tech crisis? Well, that depends on what you need help with. Today, we're going to guide you through different support options for various tech issues.

Help! I'm having problems with my real estate software!

Because modern real estate solutions are largely web-based, many difficulties have been eliminated since there's no software to install. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's all smooth sailing. Sometimes data is accidentally deleted, or upgrades make old features hard to find.

Fortunately, most real estate software comes with robust tech support options including phone, email, and live chat support. Many also have video tutorials or a built-in Knowledge Database that lets agents use a search feature to find answers to a specific question they may have. Check with your vendor for tech support options. Tech support is important, so if you find that your vendor's options are inadequate, consider switching to a new solution. If you need guidance, many of our product reviews provide available tech support options.

If you're simply looking to use a product better, many vendors offer live training webinars. Check your vendor's website for more information, or see our webinar listings here. If a solution is offered by your broker, MLS, or association, there may be training sessions available through them. Check with your organization for details.

Help! I'm having problems with my computer/tablet/phone!

Whether it's the dreaded blue screen of death or a device that won't turn on, few things are more frustrating than a computer, tablet, or phone that's out of commission. After all, since you rely on them for your calendar, contact data, and even transaction information, they are the support system for your entire business.

First, don't panic. Even though you may be having hardware problems, know that your files are probably just fine. Next, call your device's manufacturer for tech support. Apple users may have the best luck here. According to Consumer ReportsConsumer Reports, Apple offers the best tech support of all manufacturers, solving over 82% of issues--far ahead of second place IBM's 69% success rate.

If you are having no luck with your manufacturer, consider a third-party tech support solution. Many of these offer help for a one-time or flat annual fee, depending on your needs. Before signing up with any third-party support provider, be sure to check that they offer assistance for your device or operating system.

Tech HelplineTech Helpline, a nationwide support service operated by Florida Realtors, is one such solution. They offer unlimited tech support for both Mac and PC computers, smartphones, and tablets. The service is available to individual users, but is more commonly extended as a member benefit to MLS and association members. Tech Helpline also assists real estate and MLS software providers by offering support to users of their technology products.

Help! I'm having problems with my printer/wi-fi/email!

Even though things aren't always as dire as a broken computer or phone, other tech issues can still significantly slow down your business. DIY types may be able to fix their printer, wi-fi, or other problems via information gleaned from a Google search. Those less tech savvy--or those unable to invest time and energy in figuring it out themselves--should have a tech support solution available on speed dial.

"Every business, whether it's a single broker or an independent agent, needs a go-to technology expert to fix tech issues," says Robert Calderon, Manager of Tech HelplineTech Helpline. "Unexpected technology problems can eat up a broker's or agent's time. Having fast access to an unlimited tech support plan as a member benefit paid through an association or MLS costs much less than paying for a one-time computer repair."

Tech support is not helpful only in times of crisis. Prevention is the best cure, so regular upkeep of your computer--via virus and malware scans, software updates, and system optimization--is crucial to keeping it healthy long term. When the time comes for an upgrade, consider consulting with your technology expert for advice on what to buy to suit your needs.

And, as always, don't forget to look to RE Technology's daily educational articles for technology advice, best practices, and more!