Support Communication with Users

I. Introduction

You will receive emails from fans and partners regarding questions about the site and issues they might encounter. This is YOUR community, and your response shows how you value your community. To show your fans and partners that they matter, these guidelines around how you respond and the content of your response can be helpful.

II. How-to

It is important to respond quickly, efficiently, and personably to your fans and partners. 

To organize your workflow to handle this communication:
Step 1: Set aside specific times at the beginning, middle, and/or end of the day to address their emails.
Step 2: Triage those that are more urgent based on the issue/question and the fan/partner.
Step 3: Respond to those that are urgent with either an answer or notification that you have received the email and are working on an answer.
Step 4: Respond to those that are less urgent in a timely manner with the necessary info.
Step 5: Follow up as necessary.

Best practices for how-to respond:
  • Maintain the same email thread
  • Include all of the original receivers of the email so all are kept in the loop, or move those that you don't think need to be on the chain to BCC and announce it at the top, like "Moving Scott to BCC." 
  • CC any other person for whom the email could be relevant (even if no action from them is necessary) or who could help with info.  Be careful with this because you don't want to provide extra noise for people either.  Use good judgment. 
  • Remove fans and partners on an internal discussion relevant to the thread: remove their address when starting an internal discussion and/or remove anything internal from the thread history when addressing the fan or partner again
  • So be EXTRA careful in tracking who is included in every response
  • Greet the fan or partner and close the email. People appreciate salutations!
  • Move quickly when composing these emails but don't sacrifice speed for:
    • accuracy/completeness of information.  Avoid creating confusion that will be more time consuming in the long-run.
    • niceness/humanness. Taking an extra minute goes a long way toward making people like us and want to be "on our team." We are human and so are those requesting support.

III. Content

The content of support emails to our customers in response to an issue or question should be:
1. Informative
2. Concise
3. Personable (kind/funny/relatable)

Best practices for determining response content:
  • ​You want to give them a clear answer in a positive way.
  • A clear answer for a technical issue consists in telling the fan/partner either
          a) it is fixed
          b) we are working on it
          c) it can’t be fixed but here is a way to work with it
  • A clear answer for a question consists in giving guidance for what they ultimately want to achieve.
    •   --> This may mean you have to interpret why they are asking their question.
  • Leave out explanations except in special cases. The answer is primary.
  • Show appreciation for their taking the time to ask a question or let us know of an issue rather than flippancy or frustration, no matter how they phrased their emails. Remember both when reading and writing these emails that text can be interpreted in different ways.
  • Keep in mind that you represent your metro’s relationship with your community in your response.
For some amusing examples of the types of emails you might receive, you can look over this Do512 collection.  They make these angry users into fans by speaking straight, with humor and humanness, instead of ignoring them or giving a robotic reply as expected.