Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Engaging product support conversation

I receive 2 support email from one of my customer couple of days ago. He encounter an error when he was trying to do something.

His email is one of those which are very difficult to understand. The email is made up of "short fact statement", some sentence has broken grammer, some sentence is incomplete(I remember one of the sentence only have half of the sentence and then follow by Is he asking to me guess the second half of the second?). I couldn't really make much sense from his email.

When I ask him for more details and describe it in a better way, he responded with another email that say he already give me details up to the database table. He doesn't know what else he can give me. Database table doesn't help me much either.

I guess he has never engage in any kind of support with his users or answer any kind of enquires before.

So, what is the missing piece here ?

If you are using a product that hundreds and thousand of other peoples are also using and only you have a problem with a particular feature of that product, there must be special case that you have done.

In a support conversation, it is important and the first thing you should do is :
1) Give a small description of what your problem is.
2) Give details of what you have done and how to reproduce it(the features you are using, how you have get to that features, what interaction you have done, what data you have input, what you do after that and so on).
3) Look for other details you can give such as product version, your platform environment, have you done any changes to the environment recently(such as changing configuration or applying patch), application log files, event log, database log and so on.

Giving as much useful information as possible that would help the support people to narrow down the trouble shooting and reproduce the error more quickly. This will speed up their respond time to you in return.

Simply telling them that this doesn't work and that doesn't work is not helpful at all.


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