Before helping your customers, help yourself!


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A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.” Einstein

Not too long time ago I had a question related to the use of some type of online service. The first thing I did – went to their online help. It took me a while to play with my search terms to finally get to an article that was somewhat related to what I was looking for. But… it did not contain clear instructions on how to solve my problem.

I immediately decided to use their real-time online chat. Well, the person who was on another side apparently was using the same knowledge base that I was searching in my step 1 of solution finding journey.

And then I had to move to step 3 – writing an email to that company’s support department describing the issue yet again. I did get a response back, but it was the same one that I already heard 2 times before. I responded. My response contained less than admirable words towards the support services of the company which product I was trying to use. Magic! My request got finally escalated! And I did hear back from THE expert. The one who understood my issue and helped me with the solution.

Just for the fun of it, I went back not too long time ago and checked the online knowledge base of that company to see if they have updated the solution I was trying to use with the data that helped me with resolving my issue. No, the content was still old, no updates.

Why I am telling you this story? You probably have dozens of the similar stories you can share with me. My main reason is … Social Media and all the hype around how great social media is for customer service support.

Your company’s social media service support will be as great as that knowledge base article that has not been updated for a long time.

Before you through more money and people on these new service/support social media channels make sure you have your back end systems and processes under control.

Here are some of the questions you need to address:

– Do you have a process in place to analyze social media generated service/support requests:

  • What was the root cause of the issue?
  • Is there a solution in place in online Knowledge Base?
  • Can that solution be easily located?
  • Do you need to make changes to your product [UI, layout, flows, etc..] to avoid service/support questions in a first place?

– People

  • Do you train your service/support people to listen to incoming requests, or they are trained to follow their scripts?
  • Do you train them to comment on why they think service/support request has been generated in a first place and suggest methods/solutions that could prevent similar type of problems to appear in a first place?

Instead of me re-writing everything that relates to Knowledge Management, I suggest you hire top notch Knowledge Management consultant who can look at your back end systems, processes and can advise you on how to set things up so 80% of most commonly asked questions can be solved online using online help. And you can focus on those remaining 20% unique “hard” requests that most likely relate to unknown bugs and product functions that need to be developed…

Going back to where I started – with that problem that took over a week to solve and all the time and people that were involved in solving it… Nothing has changed. There is someone else who is going through the same process I went through not too long time ago now… Oh, I forgot to mention that I did check their online user forum – had the same issues – could not find the right discussion and when I did, there were no solution in place either.

So please, when you finally update Knowledge Base, go and find that discussion on user forum and post that solution as well! Thank You!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Tatyana Kanzaveli
Tatyana Kanzaveli has broad experiences in sales/marketing/technology areas. She held executive roles in number of start-ups and large multinationals. She was an early adopter of social media/social networking channels, using them to build successful online and face-to-face communities. Tatyana runs strategic social media marketing consultancy . She can be reached on Twitter: @glfceo.


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