Commit to an End-to-End Support System
The first and most important commitment to make is to an end-to-end support system. Effective product companies adopt a philosophy that says, convincingly, that support starts before the user becomes a user and doesn’t end until after they were long since moved on.
Making this commitment puts support front and center to your philosophy of engagement. Your first question then becomes how to do it effectively and efficiently. The answer to that then becomes end-to-end, comprehensively and with a great deal of forethought.
In truth your support system should take a fair amount of time – one rule of thumb says creating an end-to-end support system should take 25% of your roadmap and launch plan. The good news is that investing in support has a direct impact on the bottom line – unlike that quirky bell or whistle of a feature your boss made you add.
Create a Quickstart Guide
Consider that getting people up and going on your product is the most important step to getting them to use it. Create a quick start guide. Is it is quick? Is it simple? Could it be made more simple? Are there things you or your system could do to make it easier? Do that whenever possible – lowering the barrier to entry is essential in the early stages of a user relationship.
Install a Helpdesk Ticketing System
Use an online ticketing system Kayako, FreshDesk or ZenDesk are good examples. A low number of tickets and issues still need to live somewhere, be tracked, documented and resolved. Training your users to go to a helpdesk with their issues gives you a leg up on getting their issues resolved, identifying training needs and usability issues that you can then address for the larger population.
Create Many Kinds of Support Materials
Understand that some users want to figure it out by using the product, others want to read something front to back, and still, others would like video tutorials. Leveraging a variety of different delivery formats will satisfy more users, and more satisfied users are only good. The challenge is keeping it all up to date so take care to make updating support materials a part of every release schedule.
Commit to a Turnaround on Tickets
Decide on a baseline level of service delivery and abide by it. If you answer all tickets within 24 hours or 60 minutes or even a week – it becomes predictable for your users. Predictably is roughly equivalent to reliable and reliable is desirable; it benefits your reputation and keeps you out of fire drills as well.
Build out Knowledgebase Articles and Troubleshooters
Creating support content doesn’t have to be painful. Your quick start guide is a good start. After that, you can use tickets, questions, and issues to guide the demand. The challenge it keeping it all updated so make support content management part of every release schedule but also a weekly task for support engineers to consider what tickets need to result in training (knowledge base articles or video tutorials), interface/usability changes, or bug reports. Staying on top of support content and how it impacts the development will keep support from becoming a nightmare.
Revisit the Entire System Often
Committing to good support means keeping it up to date. There is a direct relationship between good support and your bottomline. Make keeping support up to date a high priority and your users will love you, forgive you, and stay with you.