How to Improve Response to Your Support Requests
Even technical wizards seek Support from time to time. Whether
it's a simple check on your billing or a more complex technical
issue, requesting Support can become a bit frustrating, or
a time consuming process, with the wrong approach.
There are several things that can make the interaction run
more smoothly and easily. The key is providing all the information
necessary. Support is a methodical process, normally referred
to as troubleshooting.
Support is simply taking a problem and breaking it down into
its most basic elements. Offering technical support is the
same as many problem solving process, from fixing cars to
diagnosing illness. Whether an auto mechanic or a doctor,
the steps and questions share very common similarities.
The most frequent problem is that support requests are too
brief and do not include all of the relevant details of the
problem. We regularly receive support requests such as:
"My client was receiving our ezine for the last
6 months, and now they have missed the last 2 issues. What
A request like this, wastes time for you because it will
only generate a request for more details. A properly formed
request would read something like this:
"My client, John Doe, was receiving my monthly ezine
"How to fly a jet fighter in 10 easy lessons". He
received issues 1-6, but has missed the 7th and 8th issues.
His email address is [email protected], is it possible
to find out why he stopped receiving the series?"
A request like this makes it easier to break down the problem
into simple elements. You see that the questions follow a
logical train of thought, where one element leads to the next:
- What is happening: Client John Doe is not receiving autoresponder
- Which autoresponder series it is: "How to fly a jet
fighter in 10 easy lessons"
- What is their email address: [email protected]
- Further information: He was receiving the messages, and
now is not. Something has changed, or there is a difference,
between the first 6 messages and the last two.
With this amount of detail, support requests are often answered
correctly the first time with no further clarification required.
Here is a Support Request Checklist. If you follow these
steps, you should see a dramatic decrease in support response
times and an increase in your satisfaction with replies too:
Where is this problem happening?
Be specific about where the problem is. What section of
the program, where on your site etc. When you give a specific
place to look it saves time and confusion. Rather than saying
my signup form on my site is not working, indicate that the
form located at www.wherever.com/signup.htm is not working
correctly, and the specifics of 'what' is not working. Indicate
that when you submit the form it does not take the prospect
to the right page or that it is not signing them up to the
Who is experiencing this problem?
Be as specific as possible about who is having the problem.
If everyone is having a problem with not being able to complete
their order indicate that. If it is one client that cannot
place an order, be sure to indicate that. Is there a common
message? Are they all being declined or are they getting some
sort of gateway error?
Further, finding out specific information from your customer
is really important. When your customer contacts you about
a problem ordering, find out what web browser they use (Internet
Explorer, Netscape, Firefox) and what operating system they
use (Windows, Linux, or Mac OS). These details are extremely
helpful when requesting support.
What steps do I take to see this problem?
Giving exact reproduction steps is probably the most important
part and encompasses details from the other two questions.
Offering up an overview of what you or your client were doing
when the problem was encountered allows Support to quickly
and easily see the problem. Be sure to include relevant details
of exactly what you were doing. If you are getting an error
creating a product; be sure to include details, like what
you were naming the product, the price of the product, and
any other details that your Support Representative would not
necessarily do in their own tests.
Following these three simple guidelines will help you resolve
your support requests quickly, with as little back-and-forth
Cliff Van Kempen
Customer Support Manager
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