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Short support requests


#1

I recently noticed a number of very brief support requests from customers. Some real examples:
“need my registration key”
“i have a problem”
“help my server radio”
"I like to know"
and so on…

Really, this is the whole message. There’s no “Hello”, no punctuation, question marks, capital letters, nothing else - just 3-4 words and that’s it. Note that requests like this come from different customers.

What is this? Is it some sort of “twitter-generation” where the fewer words, the better? Or maybe they are saving keystrokes for some reason?

My main question is, how should one handle messages like this? At first, we replied to them: find what services or products are registered for this email and somehow determine what the problem is and find a solution. But this is too much effort - we have multiple products, services and plans. I’m thinking to simply start closing tickets like this, my support staff agrees. This way we’ll save energy for our other customers.


#2

Hi Dmitry,

I am of the opposite opinion. In fact our support form is a one line field as we want to encourage to the point questions. “I have a problem” is of course useless, but haven’t seen that one myself yet. Often our customers can express what they need in one sentence easily.


#3

“need my registration key” should be solvable given their email address

What does your support form look like? If you’re asking a question, you may be seeing people literally answering the question.

Lastly, a form response will probably be able to be sent to 95% of these folks instead of costly guessing on behalf of your support team.

“A bit more detail will help us sort out your problem quickly: Which product are you having a problem with? Could you go more in depth about your problem so we make sure we fight a solution that fits you well? If there is a help button in that product, please click it: it can help give us information about what’s going wrong, to better help you.”

If they don’t respond, then close it. If they do, you’ll have the context to solve a problem.

A paying customer for whom english is a second language still is a paying customer, it’s often worth the struggle


#4

I would never close them without reply, that is just bad service. If they don’t give enough info to reply ask them for more.


#5

We’ve always received support emails like this. Except sometimes they are cruder: “your s***ty software isn’t f***ing working.”

We answer them all as if they were polite. Then we ask for more info, screenshots, etc using auto-type phrases.


#6

Thanks for replies! Our support form is a standard one: name (1 line), email (1 line), message (multiline), send button. Most of the requests come directly to support email address.

A canned response is another solution that we should consider. But still, silently closing has its advantages - the most important one is that customers will know that no one is going to bother replying to those “one liners”. Thus, the next time they contact us, they will provide more information on their problem or question.

It’s still hard for me to understand, when someone writes a message “I like to know” (or similar nonsense) - what do they expect? I use lots of services myself and I never contacted their support with requests like this - for me it doesn’t make any sense.

I think I’ll try contacting PayPal support with request like this and see what happens :slight_smile:


#7

Don’t think so - they will just assume you’re out of business or not responding. Don’t assume people think like you. Don’t take things personally (or at least try not to). You’re not going to be able to ‘fix the internet’!

+1 For canned response for more detail.

I sometimes get similar emails “Had a an error, how to solve!?!?” for my software (no details at all) which come from IT professionals at large companies - the very sort of poeple who MUST know better so its got to be worse B2C.

(I am assuming that with these when you do probe you do actually get responses and can solve so you know there are real customers on there).


#8

Do you know if they’re genuine customers? I’ve received a few enquiries like that, and I’ve often tracked it down to comment spam bots and attempted software pirates. (A lot of my “need registration key” enquiries turned out to be from people who never purchased the product and never replied to requests for more information.)

If you can, you might also like to include the IP country code silently with the support form request. It will help identify if it’s possibly due to difficulties writing in English, but you might also identify other country trends.


#9

We removed all contact forms from our application, specially those that look like a chat form. People tend to simplify messages when they fill in a form. We just show our email address, and we don’t usually get messages like that.

In case we have a one-sentence message, we ask for more information with a canned response.

On the other hand, a good knowledge base with the most frequent questions reduces the number of support tickets by far.


#10

I often wonder why the call center workers are not the majority among those receiving the Christian canonization (i.e. “promoted” to saints).

If they knew the one-lines was a bad thing, they’d send more lines from the beginning. Not replying will not make a connection to one-liner as a cause, but will just establish a belief your support is not responding, and this will promptly reported in some forums.

Maybe they are not native English speakers?

Some people just have troubles to freeze their thinking into words. I personally know a very good performance test team lead who, for all her professional skill, cannot write emails that make sense to any newly exposed reader. The skill to understand them only comes with time.


#11

Reading all the replies, I changed my mind and the canned reply way now seems better to me. We already implemented that and it seems to work (although only about 50% of one-liner authors reply with more details, others just disappear).