Online Support: 5 Tips To Get Better Results

Online Support
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As a website owner or admin, it’s pretty reasonable to assume that you’re going to need to request online support from a number of different organisations, including web hosts, plugin developers, domain registration companies and more.

Improve Your Online Support Experience

In a world where the expectation of instant gratification is high, there’s a lot YOU can do improve the standard of support you’re requesting.

As a WordPress support provider I am continually surprised and often frustrated at the requests for help I receive that provide too little information for me to be able to assist. So, here are my top 5 tips that will improve the quality of support you receive.

Be pleasant & friendly

OK, so it sounds a little obvious, but if you start a support request with an aggressive tone, it immediately puts the recipient on edge, and is likely to make them less inclined to help you.

Adopt a friendly tone to your support ticket even if you’re a little unhappy. Appeal to the better nature of your support agent,and you can expect a positive, friendly response in return.

Provide as much information as possible

When submitting a ticket, generally you’ll expect a speedy response and resolution to your issue. To that end, a support ticket stating that “my website isn’t working” doesn’t really give your support agent much to work on, so don’t be surprised if the reply is a request for more information rather than an announcement that the issue is resolved.

It’s always useful to provide the following;

  • When the problem began
  • The location of the problem, i.e. web address, domain name, email address etc.
  • A screenshot of the issue, or copy/paste the error message you experienced
  • What steps you took leading up to the issue
  • How to replicate the issue again (This is essential to help the support agent see the problem for themselves if possible)
  • What you have tried so far to resolve the issue
  • A licence key, account number or something that will help the support agent confirm you are a valid customer or have a qualifying product

Be clear about what you want to happen

In the same way that it helps to explain what your expectations are when making a complaint, the same can be useful when requesting support.

If your issue is of a technical nature, support agents can often assume prior knowledge or understanding and reply with information or guidelines that can simply go over your head.

Make clear what your limitations in understanding are, i.e. if you’re a complete newbie, then be honest and say so, you’re far more likely to get a more constructive, step by step response.

If you’re looking for a specific outcome or response, be clear about what would resolve the issue for you.

Be Patient

If you’re anything like me, you’re not the most patient of people, and when you’re in a hurry, sometimes it can be extremely frustrating when waiting for a reply to an online support issue.

If your issue is urgent, there may be a live chat option available offering immediate communication.

The nature of the internet means that while you may submit a support ticket or enquiry at 2pm, it could well be 3am in the country where the website is based. This is particularly common for me when requesting support for WordPress plugins, the result being that the reply often arrives overnight and is waiting for me when I open my email in the morning.

Also beware of submitting multiple replies to your ticket when you don’t receive an immediate response.  Many online support applications will simply place your ticket back at the end of the queue each time you submit more comments, hence you’ll wait longer for a reply.

Don't be afraid to say you're not happy with the support you've received

Sadly not all online support agents are as helpful as you might hope. One of the most frequent and frustrating situations is when the agent has clearly read only the first line of the request and quickly fired off a canned response without paying full attention to what you were actually asking.

In these situations, be persistent and don’t allow the agent to fob you off. I recently had a support experience spanning several days where I knew exactly what needed to be done, and despite being told that it had been resolved, I was still experiencing the original problem..

Fortunately, 3 days and many exchanges later with 3 different support agents, the job was finally completed correctly.

A lot of online support portals now offer the option to escalate an issue if you’re not happy with the agent you’re dealing with. Don’t be afraid to use it if you’re unhappy with the way you’re being dealt with.

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