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How to handle question askers that are never satisfied

Dirk Ronsmans Community Leader Feb 27, 2020

Hi,

I'd love to hear how you more seasoned answerers would handle this situation.

Lately I've started answering several questions of people that provide very little detail about what the actual issue is but expect you to provide them with basicly a completly worked out solution by almost reading their mind and preferably before they even type it.

Then when you provide them with a full page of analysis and links to documentation they get frustrated and want you to give a full step by step solution for their issue which keeps changing and often add "and no documentation links I don't have the time or don't find what I need"

How do you handle questions like this? Initially you want to help the person but when they start treating you like their personal support hotline and you cannot make them happy with your answer they are annoyed (while this is something we do in our free time).

Let's hear your take on this! (and see whether I'm just having a bad day or some misplaced frustration :))

 

5 comments

Jimmy Seddon Community Leader Feb 27, 2020

Hi @Dirk Ronsmans,

I have been there, however thankfully it hasn't been a frequent activity.  Being a community leader gives me the ability to ask other leaders for assistance.  Sometimes, I find that have an additional voice to help with the conversation can help steer it back to that fact that this is a "community" vs "support".  I would imagine that this group might be a way for you to get help from other answerers in the same manner.

At all times I will remain as positive and helpful as possible.

Not sure if that helps answer your question or not, just my two cents!

-Jimmy

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Dirk Ronsmans Community Leader Feb 27, 2020

Hi @Jimmy Seddon ,

Certainly, all opinions and experiences will help in a question like this!

I'll be sure to include you when my conversation threads turn "less than friendly" ;-)

Like Bridget likes this
Jack Community Leader Feb 27, 2020

Welcome to Customer Service! ;-) Though that is a bit tongue-in-cheek it is also true, when people are asking for support a significant portion of the questions are incomplete or misstated. Sometimes this is just because folks are lazy but often it is because they really don't know how to ask the question. There lack of experience/knowledge is making it hard for them to know what to ask. Analogy - have you every tried to google something obscure? You struggle with what words to put in to drive the results.

Now as to how to improve on getting the necessary info upfront, that depends on what forum you are speaking about. Here in the Community we discuss this in the Community Advisory Board constantly and try to drive the application improvements to help steer better question; simple example - requiring the hosting platform. If you are talking about Jira or Jira Service Desk then creating well formed forms is vital.

Finally, as to answering questions, for sure the majority of those seeking support simply want a 1-2-3 answer. However, I almost always try to add a bit of education into my answers, you know the "fish for yourself" goal. It is generally difficult to really know what the person is looking for in an answer at least initially. My answers in the Community range from very details to "here is a document, please read it". This is driven mostly by my availability but also is influenced by whether I feel the individual has done any homework on their own.

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Dirk Ronsmans Community Leader Feb 27, 2020

Oh I've seen my fair share of customer service in the past :)

I am indeed talking about the Community and don't really mind if we need to build the question itself over a couple of question-answer back an forth.

People might not know the right terminology or just assume that we are talking about the same thing so we cannot expect every question to be perfectly formed from the first moment.

The thing that does annoy me personally is a question that is basically a one liner such as "emails are no sent out" and that is the entire question. Everyone should know that even the most basic of questions should have some context.

I also think that it's not clear for everyone that this is a community and not Atlassian itself (aka people who answer these question as their job) so they tend to get worked up when we don't provide them with the perfect answer.

My final post in a conversation could be to send them to the support form just to make sure they get the right information from the people that have the time to answer it to the fullest.

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Jack Community Leader Feb 27, 2020

yep it is an issue for sure. sometimes i just skip past those TBH unless I have extra time. that to me feels like a "i'm too lazy to ask this question". :-(

on occasion I might answer "we need more info". As I think this can drive the point home.

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Davin Studer Community Leader Feb 27, 2020

When I see a question that is scant on details I will usually ask the OP to fill out the question further and maybe even provide some screenshots to help with the answer.

As for posting links to documentation I typically don't do that unless the documentation is succinct and self-encapulated. The reason for this is that the typical person asking a question often times does not know even where to begin and pointing them to documentation may not help. Typically documentation is not meant to be jumped into mid-ship. It builds off what has come before. So pointing someone to the middle of the book at times can be unhelpful as there are many concepts that they probably are missing. The exception that I will typically do for this is if someone is asking about a specific procedure that has already been well documented. For instance if someone asks a question about how to put Confluence or Jira behind a reverse proxy to enable SSL I will point them to the docs for doing that in Apache/Nginx/IIS (depending upon their platform). There is no need to re-write the book on those. The on-page tutorials on that are sufficient and would just be what I would write anyway. So it's better to point to the documentation and that way if the documentation changes to better align with best practices my answer doesn't need to change to match as it is just a link to the official guide.

As for needy people I will typically help as much as I can, but if the conversation is getting too long I will bow out. This is obviously a very personally subjective thing as every person has their different limits. I think the most important thing in answering questions is to have a healthy boundary. Know how long you are willing to help for free and be willing to stop when you have reached that boundary. Do it kindly, certainly, but don't feel guilty about it. We help out of the goodness of our hearts not out of guilty compulsion.

Finally, I always try to be kind and assume the best of the person. Some people just don't write well and they can come off as rude simply because of their poor writing skills or maybe English is not their native language. Can you imagine trying to get answers to a question but having to do it in a language that you don't use every day? That would be frustrating and mentally tiring. So, I try and give people the benefit of the doubt and assume good intentions of them. Now, if they start cussing me out or being mean that's when I'm done.

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Ha! Satisfaction, so subjective ;)

For starters, my company turned off the "rating" option for tickets. We found people gave low ratings if they didn't like the answer (ie. "use this article to troubleshoot your problem", we don't have the resources to train every person individually, etc.). It's funny how people want stuff done immediately, like Amazon support or other large companies do for the public. Not easy to do when the company is lacking the $$ to provide that level of service.

 

Examples of unsatisfied customers I've experienced

Shifting to self service.

My company also is doing a massive shift in support from "hand me your problems and I will resolve them for you" to "here are resources for you to resolve the problem yourself". People do not like this. Unfortunately, it's due to combining 2 companies into 1, both which had several hundred different ways of doing things :) 

I won't drop everything I'm doing to help them.

A personal favorite, but also incredibly satisfying now that we've added a custom field in our service desks for agents only titled "severity". How is this issue impacting the entire company? Is it affecting several applications because a server is down? This allows me to prioritize the issue with all of my other issues, and not changing what the customer originally put in.

Not replying to emails, Skype messages, shooing people away if they come to my desk and unplugging my desk phone.

It was an absolute pain in the ass to migrate 10,000 users to begin creating tickets (I'm sure we've all experienced this). The immediate gratification is not an option anymore, so I stopped making myself available for every way people try to get my attention aside from creating a ticket.

My trick - I saved in my apple notes a message

  • Skype: "I'm so sorry, I have been helping another customer. Could you please put a ticket in? I am going to meetings all day and I don't want to lose these details."
  • Email: (after waiting a couple days to reply) "I'm so sorry I missed this. I have been helping customers all week. Can you please put this in as a ticket so I don't lose this email? I get ~150/day and I would hate to miss your request for help.
  • Phone: (I legit let it go to voice mail. I send a Skype message saying):"I'm so sorry, I have been helping another customer. Could you please put a ticket in? I am going to meetings all day and I don't want to lose these details"

How do I handle the "unsatisfied" customers?

  • We created Service level agreements (not the functionality in atlassian, but a legit document stating who we are, who we support, what the response time is (not turn around because that isn't always the case) that we put this in a message that is automatically sent when a ticket is created.
  • Canned messages for unhappy customers. I know myself well and I will get to the "why the f*** are you so rude?!" point, so I create canned messages when I'm in a light mood such as the following:
    • For not understanding what someone says: I'm so sorry, I don't think I'm understanding. Can you please share "what you expected to happen" vs "what actually happened"? If you list out in steps for each option, this will help me better.
    •  For people being rude because you won't give them what they want: Due to resourcing restrictions, we don't have the bandwidth to provide the service that you need. If this doesn't meet your standards, please feel free to speak to my supervisor. This would require understanding and having clarity from your leadership on what you do and do not provide.

 

Not sure if any of this is helpful or not, but it's pretty nice having it documented now! This is an excellent topic I believe everyone using JIRA Service desk would benefit from reading!

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DPK J Community Leader Mar 05, 2020

Pretty nice post!

I personally prefer to keep calm all the time, but when things get out of my hands, I simply ask person to raise another question in community for more information that they need.

I tell them, if you ask another question more people will jump in and you might get better solution.

This has worked so far for me.

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