How to Write Support Tickets to Solve Your Problems Faster

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In Nelio we understand how frustrating it is when something fails. That’s why we try to offer a high quality support service. Because it is in those moments when we can make a difference—f our customers are satisfied with our response when something goes wrong, they’ll keep using our services.

We’ve been helping our users for a few years now and we’ve learned a lot about it. Sometimes we screw up (we are human 😇) and sometimes we just have bad luck. But the important thing is to be there when you need us. And we take this very seriously. However, sometimes being able to help you solve your problems is no easy task. Let me explain it with a quick example.

I am in the office developing awesomic functionalities that you’ll soon enjoy on your website when, suddenly, we receive a new support ticket with the following information:

This is what we see when we get a new ticket in our support system.
This is what we see when we get a new ticket in our support system.

At that point, we stop everything. Helping our users becomes our number one priority. Bu they’re not making it easy for us. What information can we extract from the support ticket? Let’s look at this scenario in detail:

  • That person needs help, that’s for sure 😁
  • His name is John. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of people named “John”.
  • He has a problem with a plugin. But what plugin? In Nelio we had 5 plugins uploaded to the WordPress.org directory when we received that ticket. He probably has a problem with Nelio A/B Testing or with Nelio Content, our premium plugins and, as such, the most popular ones. But that’s just a guess 😓.
  • Since he opened a ticket, we now have his email. This means we can look for him in our customer base, to see if we can find anything else. But there is no luck—that email wasn’t used to make a payment in the payment system we use.

As you can see, our intention is to provide help quickly, but we cannot always do so. Our only option is to respond to the support ticket requesting more information to the user.

If the initial ticket had included a more detailed explanation, we could have understood much better the root of the problem and even provide a way to solve it. However, in a situation like that, the person asking for help won’t be able to have the problem solved until at least 3 interactions later (my answer asking for more information, their response providing that information, and my answer solving the problem). And this is the best case scenario… 😓

This article is aimed at advising you so that when you write a support ticket to any online business, you make life easier to the support technician that assists you. That way, you help him to help. Because many times losing a few minutes writing a ticket in detail can boost the rest of the support process in an incredible way.

What Information Should You Include in a Support Ticket

The first thing you should include in your tickets is an introduction; something that identifies you. At the very least this is your email or the email used to make the payment for the service or product. This way the support agent can find you in the system.

It is also very important to include in your tickets the web address where you have the problem. In our case, this helps us a lot because URLs are related to the logs of our services, allowing us to quickly check if an A/B experiment doesn’t work as expected or if the client didn’t create it correctly, whether or not we have calls to our API from that address, verify if the timezone in WordPress is not well configured and that’s the reason the tweets are sent at a different time than the one expected by the client, etc…

The description of the problem must be as detailed as possible. If the problem arises punctually after performing a series of steps, describe them in order without skipping any. If the support technician is not able to replicate the problem because you haven’t described everything, it’ll be more difficult for him to help you properly.

The best thing you can do for the support team is to include captures in your explanation. If you also attach a small screencast where you show the problem, we’ll thank you very much. No need to record half an hour of video. In most cases, videos of less than a minute help a lot. Here at Nelio, every time a client includes a screencast explaining the problem he’s suffering, our satisfaction goes over the moon. It is not very common, but we love it when it happens.

Maybe you think attaching captures or screencasts is complicated, but the truth is that today is easier than ever. There are many tools that allow you to record screencasts for your support tickets. For example, Recordit for Mac or Windows, in addition to recording your desktop allows you to upload the video so you can share a link in the support ticket. Also, most operating systems today allow you to make captures of your desktop with a simple key combination (CMD+Shift+3 on a Mac).

Developer Console in Google Chrome where you can see JavaScript errors.
Developer Console in Google Chrome where you can see JavaScript errors.

In WordPress, JavaScript is more important every day. So, if you have a problem and you have something frozen on the screen or some loading spinner never stops spinning, there may be some mishaps with JavaScript. In these cases, open the developer console in your web browser and make a screenshot so that we see the bug (usually marked in red). This link explains the key combinations to open this console depending on the browser you use.

If the problem is more serious and it’s your server the one that dies (showing the typical white screen that we have already commented on other occasions), check the error log of your server at that time and if you find something suspicious, attach it to the ticket.

From here, everything else you can include will also be of help (as long as it relates to the problem you are having, of course). Remember: a support ticket with a 10-word sentence won’t help us that much.

Checklist You Should Review Before Submitting a Support Ticket

Before clicking on the button to send an email or a support ticket, you should take a few minutes to validate all of the following:

  • The ticket includes your name and surname, the name of your company and your email (or those of the person who contracted the service), in addition to the URL of the web in which the problem occurs.
  • You described what is happening and when in a clear and precise way.
  • You described the scenarios in which the issue occurs. For instance, if the problem appeared after making a change (updating or installing a plugin or a theme, for example), you explicitly mention that the issue occurred after updating plugin X.
  • You included the steps to reproduce the problem.
  • Optional, but highly recommended: you added screenshots or a screencast that depict the problem.

Putting yourself in the shoes of the person who is going to deal with the ticket usually helps a lot. Note that such person has no context and needs to understand your problem. Always re-read the text of your tickets to make sure it is understandable by someone else

Conclusions

You’ve seen that providing support to users is not always easy. It’s crucial to understand what problem they have in order to be able to solve it as soon as possible. If the customer is not satisfied with your support, it’s very likely that you will lose it. But if he is delighted, he’ll keep the trust on you for a long time. But that’s a two way street—as a customer, the more you help the support service to get started, the better they’ll help you. Next time you need help, put in practice everything explained in this article. In essence, the more information you give and the more precies it is, the faster you’ll get the right answer 😉

What’s your opinion on this topic? How often do you write/receive poorly-detailed support tickets? Any advice? Tell us your experience in the comments; we’ll be happy to read them!

Featured Image by freestocks.org.

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