Friday, July 12, 2013

A "Bad" Ticket Just Needs a Little Context

by: Claire Talbott

We’ve all been there as support agents. The dumb question, the demand “add this feature or else” or the cryptic ticket with a single sentence that tells you nothing.

The fifth ticket like this is no big deal. The 75th and you feel like you’re going crazy. After a 100, you’re asking yourself, is this person crazy? Do they think I’m a genius and can figure this out from a single word? We’re not building a feature just for them!

(If these thoughts haven’t run through your head, you probably haven’t been doing support very long)

You can’t say any of those things, and so you write out a civil email (not necessarily super nice) and say, “No we don’t have that feature.” Or “Here’s an article that will help.”

Not bad, but it doesn’t get to the root of the issue. With tickets like this, there’s usually more going on than you realize.

I recently got a ticket from a customer asking to use one of our premium features for free.

The first thought that went through my head is, “You want to use one of our top features, but not pay us a dime? Um…no. “

Instead of saying, “It’s not possible,” I asked for more details about why they didn’t want to upgrade to a paid plan. Did they just not want to pay us anything?

Then I got their response. Turns out they were a start up, were still waiting on funding, and couldn’t afford a paid plan yet. And in order for them to use the tool, they had to have the premium feature.

I wasn’t dealing with a “cheap” prospect, but a new company that would most likely turn into a great long-term customer.

The same happened with a user who asked an obvious question about how our product worked. I was surprised at such a basic question, but it turns out (when I got some context), they knew how it was supposed to work, but couldn’t get it to function as expected. It was a bug.

Being able to really help customers requires getting context, so you have all the pieces to the story. And customers often forget that you need that context to really help them.

Instead of getting annoyed with those “bad” or “frustrating” tickets, ask for context ;)

Claire Talbott started out as nanny and spent several years as a copywriter before falling in love with customer support at UserVoice. When she’s not helping customers or putting together documentation, she enjoys writing fiction and hanging out with her dog, Mr. Knightly.

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