Servicing and searching

Part of the ‘customer service’ offered by our
product is a ‘Contact Support’ link in the application itself and
the same publicly available from Help Centre. And people use it all the time.
It keeps our customer team fully occupied. It got me thinking about how I seek
help with applications and things on the internet that I’m using. I can’t
remember the last time I contacted the creator or owner or provider of software
(internet or otherwise) to seek support. Perhaps because ours is software as a
SERVICE (with service included in the subscription) people feel that they can and
will get service from us, that we are not just some big corporate who charges $1.99p/m
via an 0900 number. Maybe the majority of our customers are not in the IT space
like me, who when unsure of something turns to an internet search engine to
find commentary that others may have had on the problem. I guess we’ve
been quite ‘out there’ with our blog and presentations and face
time so our customers realise that they are not going to get lost in some
offshore queue for service.

And speaking of searching I’m always trying to refine
Help Centre so that people get what they expect when they search the user guide
and other content. Search result tolerance is interesting – unlike doing
a general Google search when you’re glad to see a hit related to your query
(regardless of what that site contains) Help Centre often returns multiple relevant
pages (as proven in the results abstract) for a query and because of the way
Google works (well in IE6 without the Google toolbar at least) when you open
any page you’re just taken to the top of that page. Tolerance barrier
reached. In many cases taking the next step to scroll down to look for what was
in the results abstract or using Ctrl+F to find the various terms is just too
much. It’s been ages since I’ve worked with bespoke search engines so
I’m now wondering if highlighting terms or jumping to the abstract text is
old technology. I’m working really hard to provide little table of
contents-style links or points of interest at the top of each page like I did
when I was first managing websites back in 1997 to help people identify what’s
on the page when they land at the top of it.


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