3 ways for the Support department to get the monkey off its back

Q. What’s the biggest gripe in Support?

A. Getting the unnecessary calls off their backs, so they can find the time needed to tackle the really important problems. Really, they are looking for a way to be pestered less.

So what are the three key ways to relieve this headache?

1. Enable users to serve themselves.

If you are getting loads of traffic via your help desks, it is just proving the point that the existing (or non-existent) manual is not clear? (BTW Cherryleaf can help you provide documentation that works.)

2. Eliminate the problem at source.

You need to look at the reasons why people get stuck. It’s likely to be due to poor design, poor instructions or poor training.

3. Understand your users, in all their different forms.

Recognise there is no single “typical” user. Instead, identify the types of  “personas” that use your product, and make sure the customer experience makes sense to them.

Failing that, there’s always the option used in The IT Crowd:

Any other factors? We’d welcome your thoughts and opinions.


Bill Kerschbaum

Excellent points. I think #3 in particular has great value (and is under utilized) at the beginning of documentation. I’d guess most tech writers have a basic concept of their typical user, but nothing that’s very developed – just a vague profile.

Joan Travis

All are valid points. I might add another item to the list: work with Support on a regular basis to find out what problems customers are having. It’s a bit obvious, but I’ve rarely worked for a company with a direct line of communication between Pubs and Support.

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