Golden Rules of Good Support – Episode 2

Here’s another Episode of the “Golden Rules of Good Support”- putting down in writing what makes for good technical support!

2) Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

When an issue comes up and you can’t recreate it, the scenario is complex, or you just don’t get what the customer is saying, don’t just put it into the “too hard” pile or ask a series of piecemeal questions. Try to be honest, but polite, and ask all the questions you think are relevant. If you think you understand what’s going on, but you’ve only got part of the story, try running through the narrative in your questioning and lead the customer into helping you- after all, they’ll be keen to help you if it results in a fix!

Consider the scenario:

Mail from user:

My printer’s broken – help me!

Not a lot of use to you from a troubleshooting point of view! (but familiar I bet!). You’ve got a vague idea of what’s going on, but it could still be multiple things, so you could just ask:

What printer’s broken? What exactly is wrong with it?

Ok, so you’ve asked a couple of questions- but none of these are going to take you directly to the answer or solve the problem. There’s probably going to be at least another couple of round of emails, probably more. How about leading the user into diagnostics- you know a thing or two about printers after all (hopefully if you’re getting mails about fixing printers you know more than one or two things!):

Hi User,

Sorry to hear about the printer thing. Can you confirm which printer’s broken- the one by your desk? If it’s the HP, can you confirm the lights on there? If it’s the paper indicator (it looks like a squiggly line) can you try unloading the paper and restarting the print job? If it’s one of the other lights lit, can you tell me when the problem started?

We’ve suggested a fix for one scenario to the user- hopefully that’s an instant resolution to our problem. If it’s not that, we’ve got some other data to work with too.

This might seem like common sense (and these Golden Rules generally should be)- but you’d be amazed at how narrow minded you can get when you’re sending mails to customers about support cases. It’s the classic case of thinking you’re saving time and keeping on top of things by sending a quick mail- but if you spent more time on the mail and made it into a better one, you’d save more time and get to the overall resolution faster.

On this subject, don’t be afraid to engage with all the wonderful tools the web offer too. Screen-sharing technology is every where- and you can put together quick videos, published on you-tube or similar to show you thoughts or describe your processes. This might seem time consuming at first, but once you’ve built a video showing how the app should work, you can work this into your documentation to prevent further queries, or point other users with the same problem towards the video to see if they’re going down the same road. It’s also an opportunity to do some marketing- YouTube is a massive channel now for people looking for reviews and to get to know products- and if your product is featured heavily, and your illustrations show how features work, then these “how to get out of a rut” scenarios can actually appear to be simple “how to’s” to potential new users.

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