|User Friendly Support|
I left some acidic comments on someone's post recently about support forms. I can't find the link but they were along the lines of:
- Provide a dropdown list of common support topics, and have them auto-redirect to the relevant page
- When people enter the subject for a contact email, do an autosearch, and if anything is a good match, redirect
Anyway, as a much broader question:
What features and methods of finding information should be part of the ideal support system?
i.e. category navigation? auto-suggest? FAQ lists? direct contact option at all stages? ...
I really like the auto-suggest in Google Groups. It's the #1 feature we need here on WebmasterWorld.
As you are typing the subject line on a new post, it suggests existing posts in the right margin that might answer the question, and, thus, avoid unnecessary, redundant posts.
jtara - that's one of my personal favourites as well - but is it enough alone? Could a support service reasonably axe FAQ lists, category lists, search, etc. and just replace it with an autosuggest field?
You certainly need all the other features you mentioned.
What I like about the auto-suggest is that it significantly cuts-down on duplicate posts, by finding existing posts that answer the user's question, right at the point when they were going to post a question. It's a pleasant surprise for the user, and less work for support staff.
I wonder what you get from FAQ that a good auto-suggest/search combo won't give you? To my mind, typing a few keywords is faster than scrolling down a list of questions.
|To my mind, typing a few keywords is faster than scrolling down a list of questions. |
Heh i know many people who refuse to let go of their mouse while browsing websites and for them, scrolling through a faq might be more appealing. Personally i like faqs as well because i can use my browser's familiar search functionality instead of whatever the website programmer decided to put in.
In the end it depends on your target audience and how they use their computer, as opposed to what you or i like to do. You may even want to provide two different ways of accessing the information to cover different types of users, at the cost of increasing maintenance work...
|jtara wrote: As you are typing the subject line on a new post, it suggests existing posts in the right margin that might answer the question, and, thus, avoid unnecessary, redundant posts. |
I've never seen/used the auto-suggest thing but if you do use it, make sure it's presented as a "search for answers" function and not triggered only when the user resorts to posting a question, the latter sounds counter-intuitive and those users who are shy about posting questions will never find it.
My 2 cents :-)
|the latter sounds counter-intuitive and those users who are shy about posting questions will never find it. |
This is good evidence that the engineers are still firmly in control at Google. ;)
I think they saw the "problem" as "too many duplicate posts", rather than "users can't find previous posts that answer their questions".