Encouraging users to read online help

Subject: Encouraging users to read online help
From: "Ivan Weiss" <ivan -dot- weiss -at- centurytel -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2001 17:04:36 -0800

"CHRISTINE ANAMEIER" <CANAMEIE -at- email -dot- usps -dot- gov> wrote in message
news:<0033000045187556000002L062* -at- MHS>...

Ouch. The tech support people would have to be VERY careful with
tone of voice if they use this approach. It would be all too easy
sound patronizing.

Which of these two messages do we want to give the users?
(1) "Go away and stop bothering us, you cretin, the answer's right
front of your nose if you'd bother to look for it-- see?"
(2) "Here's the answer to your question" ...(blah blah blah)...
by the way, for questions like this you might find it more
to look in the online help. Here's how to access it..."

If the user's calling tech support, chances are they're already
feeling frustrated. Give them the answer they need and THEN nudge
toward the documentation. And make sure the documentation is

>From my experience, I'd agree with this. I have a protocol for dealing
with help desk employees that rarely has failed me. Once I get to talk
to live bodies, I

1) tell them what my problem is
2) tell them that I have tried the online help
3) tell them I have read the manual
4) tell them I have searched their knowledge base
5) narrow down, as specifically as I can, what remedies I have tried and
what error messages I have gotten, if any
5) tell them I am calling them only as a last resort, and
6) tell them how much I appreciate their help

Then I take careful notes on what they tell me and keep them in easy
reach. It's like interviewing SMEs, no? I even have had help desk people
e-mail me, days and even weeks after the call, with helpful information.

If the Help has not been helpful, I tell them that, too. They say
they're glad to have that information. Certainly I would be if I were in
their shoes.
Ivan Weiss http://www.nwguild.org
Vashon WA http://www.unionrecord.com

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