When applying for support roles you see some questions crop quite frequently, the exact forms differ, but the general concepts remain the same. I figure here is as good a place as any to try to expand upon my answers and make sure I am providing useful information.
The first one is "What is an example of an ideal support interaction?"
In my view the absolute ideal support is invisible.
Ideal support is the result of a system where the customer never needs or wants to contact support because the design of the product and the resources available to provide help are all so good and useful that it simply never occurs to the customer to contact support as they can quickly and easily fix their own problems.
This is a pretty tall order, it means that the design that is intuitive enough that users can always find the functions they want quickly and easily, but also a design where mistakes are difficult to make and easy to recover from. It also would somehow need to be immune to abuse and misuse.
The help functions would need to always be present, relevant, up to date and useful, covering both common and extremely unusual use cases. Ideally the help would be proactive in surfacing information that users might find useful, especially during the set up phase, where you need good on-boarding tools to ensure that your users get everything up and running quickly and easily.
This is especially tricky both because you don't want to create a new version of clippy and also keeping help resources up to date is difficult in even at the best of times. Documentation is one of the less interesting tasks on any project and most web start ups really like to advertise a fast evolving improving product, which means existing help files go out of date even faster.
So what can you do to move towards this kind of support? Look closely at your on-boarding process, make sure you have tools in place to help people get set up, pay close attention to the kinds of issues your customers contact support over and ensure your help documents keep up to date.
Finally make sure that the reason why people don't contact support is because they don't need to, not because the support experience is bad or that finding how to contact support is difficult.
In the next post for this series I will talk about what I think makes for a good support interaction, because at some point some users will or at least should contact support for help.
What do you think? What makes for an ideal support interaction?