Why Can’t They Read The Manual?

In support we frequently tend to chalk all customer questions on how to do things under the unflattering RTFM umbrella.  However, some careful thought will lead us to see that there are at last three classes of such cases:

  • The customer is trying to accomplish a really unique and complicated task
  • They are trying to accomplish something relatively basic, but can’t exactly figure out how to do that due to lacking or inadequately organized documentation
  • The caller is under-qualified and needs more education on the platform or the product than what support can provide while managing a case
If we look at the three classes we can clearly see the different direction we need to take for each.  In the first and second cases we need to help the customer accomplish what they are trying to do.  We’d also want to document the information we provided, which will help us (assuming we are using KCS) understand two things:  First, how common is the ‘unique and complicated’ task the first customer is trying to accomplish, and second, the impact of not having the way of accomplishing that simple task properly documented, and give us a way to discuss a fix to the documentation, which, as I wrote in an earlier post, is a part of the product.  

When dealing with customers with inadequate knowledge there are several considerations we need to make.  If the contact we are dealing with is lacking in basic platform knowledge, we should find a way to raise it with their management.  

In cases where the customer  is missing product-specific knowledge a system that worked for me well in the past worked as follows:

  • Support engineers mark cases where the contact could use product knowledge
  • Education department uses these cases as leads to sell training seats
  • If they were successful and the customer signs up for training, the support engineer gets  a small reward
What’s your experiences collaborating with the education department?  Other departments?  Handling customers who need more knowledge than they have?
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