I’ve been the support manager at Gecko for a few years now and I can tell you, no two days have ever been the same.
At least once a week I’ll be faced with an issue with a site that I’ve never had to deal with before or a request from a client I couldn’t anticipate. It’s an extremely varied role and it’s the reason I enjoy it so much. I can never tell what’s coming my way next!
A website requires a fair bit of maintenance and I’m not just referring to fixing bugs. We all know that in order to keep your audience engaged, you need to be posting enthralling and interesting content, updating your images and adding new products etc. All of this really goes beyond a level of just ‘using’ your website, you need to be confident in opening up the bonnet and working on it, which requires some in-depth knowledge and on occasion a little bit of support.
Before we unleash our clients on their websites we provide a session of hands-on training.
The client comes to our office, they sit in front of a big screen with a mouse and keyboard and we go over the fundamentals of how their site works and how they can get the most out of it. These sessions contain a fair amount of information and instruction but we try to keep it focused on the needs of the client covering the sites main uses and functionality. This will be a first time experience for some people and others will already know their stuff, but all will have an array of questions to ask during the session which we do our best to answer. Hopefully, they will leave our office well informed and raring to get going.
A day or so later (sometimes longer), we hand over the reins and this is where the support begins.
We don’t expect clients to remember everything we cover in a training session (that would be difficult) and I would doubt that the everyday running of a website is a clients only job, so we need to be on hand to give help and guidance when needed.
Here are some quick examples of the kind of support requests I might get on a daily basis:
Hi there. The banner image on my homepage looks pixelated when I add it, can you please help?
I’ve been making changes to a page and saving it, but when I check the front-end I don’t see my changes? This seems to be happening to me a lot, can you please advise?
My page is showing a 404 error and I don’t know why, it’s urgent I get this up before lunch, please help!
All good quality genuine issues which are well within my skill set to resolve and as it happens well within a client too.. if the time is taken to show them how to identify and eliminate the possible causes.
I would guess it takes around five to ten minutes to open a support ticket with us. That’s the time it takes to log-in to the dashboard, create the ticket, explain the issues, provide screenshots, supply links to affected pages and send it on its way. Once the ticket reaches us we will generally reply within the hour to acknowledge it and usually by the end of the working day with a fix. That’s a possible timescale of at least 8 hours to resolve an issue on a busy day.
There are two important elements to consider here, the time factor and the fix. Many of the support issues I receive could easily be resolved within the time it takes to raise a ticket, let alone within the time it takes to await a reply and a remedy. This is, of course, easy for me to say with the level of experience I have, but I don’t think that this level of knowledge is necessarily required in most cases, a solid understanding of the basics should be enough.
When a ticket comes in that I feel is within a client’s capability to address, I always try to make a point of instructing them how to fix it for themselves rather than doing it for them… ‘give a man a fish’ and all that.
In my opinion, this approach makes for a richer, more inclusive and satisfying support experience. We use the information provided by the client in their bug report to provide them with a set of instructions to remedy the fault, essentially you and your client are working as a team.
Giving the client time to interpret your instructions and apply the fix helps them to build a confidence and an understanding of how their site works and in turn the ability to identify and fix future issues themselves. That then becomes a support issue I’ll no longer need to deal with leaving me to focus on the bugs that clients can’t fix and that really need my attention.
Rather than leave the client wondering (or not caring) how you fixed a problem and for them to contact you again the next time that problem occurs you have the opportunity supply them with a set of instructions to refer to in the future. Support in my view is not just about fixing issues for your clients it’s also about educating them so that they can support themselves. This saves the time and effort in raising tickets and means that not only do clients get a sense of understanding by fixing their own site they can also get on with their day knowing that they have that problem sorted for good.
- Dave, @wearegecko!