I spent three years of my career as a Support Engineer at prominent companies such as CircleCI, Travis CI, PSPDFKit, and Bitrise. In that time, I learned about a lot of things but the biggest takeaway for my future roles was how to write an effective support ticket.
Imagine receiving this email - no metadata, no links, just:
Can you fix my problem?
I would help current and potential customers integrate, maintain and optimize my employer’s tool or SDK. I’ve supported customers using a variety of methods such as email, ticket-based, instant messaging, phone, and video chat support. Customers are generally more forthcoming in the second half of that list: phone and video chat. Generally friendlier too! But often times it was like pulling teeth to get any sort of helpful information while interacting with customers over email, ticket-based or instant messaging style support.
In those three years, I interacted with a lot of people. Ranging from 50 to 200 tickets a week depending on my role and the topic I was covering at the time. My favourite customers were the ones who were appreciative of my work and cognizant of my time. My least favourite were the ones who were derogatory and swore at me and my manager in chat. You suck Eric!
I will show you how to write a proper support ticket at the end of this blog post but for right now let’s cover some key tactics for being a good customer to support workers.
Don’t be an entitled free customer. We all love free stuff. Heck, I’ll go looking around on garbage day for free stuff. But understand we live in a capitalist hell-scape and free tiers of products will never receive the same level of support as paid customers. If you want top-tier anything, pay for it. Whether that be by paying for a paid plan, support contract, or hiring a consultant. At the very least, don’t take it out on the front line people as we don’t make the rules, we just follow them.
Don’t post on social media about specific employees but especially if it’s negative. Let me set the stage, I start my shift and receive something along the lines of that bad support ticket example. I try my best to help them but they are slow to respond and won’t provide any pertinent additional information. They stop responding and then I get a message from my manager saying they tweeted something along the lines that the companies support is useless with a screenshot naming me directly. On top of looking like a dumbass because any reader can see he didn’t answer my questions, it was just a dick move. If you have a concern, send a private message to their manager or a public message not naming them.
Do say thank you but don’t be creepy. Support workers love having their work appreciated. A lot of people view support as being an entry level position but it takes practice and training to be effective. Say thank you after a pleasant support experience but don’t be creepy. I’ve had multiple occasions where I was made uncomfortable. I’m a femme with a femme name and don’t need men commenting on my Zendesk profile picture.
Don’t stalk your handler on social media. During a instant messaging chat, I had a customer say I looked nice in my most recent Instagram post. How do you even respond to that? This rolls into the same area as the previous example but please, for the love of god, don’t search up a support worker without permission. This varies person to person, but I had a recurring customer who one day asked if they could follow me on Twitter and asked for my handle. This provides consent. I am okay with this but don’t just search up someone’s name and especially don’t comment on their posts during a support chat. People’s social media’s are generally personal and this is work time.
Don’t open a thousand tickets. At one of the companies I worked at, we had an Alex problem. Alex would open a ticket literally every day, sometimes multiple times per day. Until we put in precautions for that account, our ticket numbers increased by almost 1/3. He’d have multiple tickets in L2, L3 and with the engineering team. We loved the enthusiasm but requested that Alex batch his questions so one request wasn’t a single question but several that we could answer at once. At one point, we had a Alex filter in Zendesk. 😭😩😂
Don’t assume women are less skilled than men. This should be obvious by now but unfortunately isn’t. Nearing the end of my time in support, I was in escalated support positions but also helped in front-line support like instant chat. I regularly had customers ask for “another agent” because of my feminine name and they assumed I was less experienced. You might say that this is just me assuming but one customer literally told my manager this and he said I was one of the experienced support agents. I hope this customer felt like an ass, because he was being one. Gender does not mean anything when it comes to experience! Assume women (and non-binary folks) are as experienced or more experienced than you. Especially support workers. This is what we do every day.
So let’s get back to that support ticket.
I’m trying to implement caching in a React Native project. I’ve read the documentation on your website and through some posts on Stack Overflow. I’m having a hard time figuring out how to set the trigger for when the cache is invalidated and recreated.
Here is my build link: link and my .yml file: gist.github.com. I’ve enabled support access and have dev privileges on the account.
It says, in the ticket, what Rebecca‘s trying to achieve and what they’re having a hard time with. It links to the logs and their configuration file and makes sure we have access. For some companies, the last part may not be necessary and in that case ask what is necessary.
This was mainly a satirical post but I hope you learned something and if anything should be taken from this post - it’s that support workers are people and deserve respect.