How to submit a good support ticket

It's not communicating if you don't tell me what you did. Creative Commons Image Attribution"
It’s not communicating if you don’t tell me what you did.
Creative Commons Image Attribution

Think to yourself: if I dropped in, directly in the middle of a conversation, and was forced to figure out what needs to be done based on the information being presented only from this point forward, would I be able to do so?

That’s what a support ticket is. It’s a conversation between you and your website, which you have now plunked a developer down into the middle of, via a support ticket.

And if all that developer gets from you is a url and “I followed your instructions and it’s not working,” though developers are often wizards, they are not going to be able to help much.

'It's broken, please fix' is a remarkably bad support ticket. Here's why. Share on X

Their internal response to such a statement is “No, you likely didn’t follow all of my directions. Now I have to do detective work to figure out which one, without making you feel dumb or sounding like a jerk.”

Developers who support products get lots of support tickets that start this way. And the vast majority of the time, the user actually didn’t follow all the instructions, or the instructions were not clear enough.

I want to be clear: I’m not making a case for “users are dumb and should should read documentation.” On the contrary, I am making the case for “good support tickets help good support developers see holes in their documentation.”

Write good support tickets. Describe in detail the steps you took, based on the documentation. If you give detailed explanations, two things happen:

  1. Sometimes you fix the problem yourself, because explaining it out loud (written or verbally) triggers different spots in your brain, and shows you some blind spots. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started writing out what I did in detail, only to discover I had skipped a step which solved the problem.
  2. If you misunderstand something, the support developer on the other end of the ticket (who understands a lot, relatively) will immediately see that misunderstanding if you articulate it. I can’t tell you how quickly a problem is resolved when a user says “I copied and pasted that PHP snippet from your site into a post, and it didn’t work.”

If you perfectly articulate how setting up the plugin is supposed to work, step by step, then the developer can say “OK, there’s something going on that is not normal,” thus skipping the first three back-and-forth steps.

If you’ve missed something in the process, a good support developer will take that as an opportunity to clarify the documentation. Good support tickets help both you (the customer) and them (the company).

I understand you’re upset, especially when you purchase a premium plugin and expect it to be simple (that’s an article all by itself, upcoming), then spend all day trying to get it to play nicely with your theme and web host.

Believe me, I’ve been there. I’d go so far as to guarantee I’ve been there more times than you. It’s what made me a professional, I’ve broken far more websites than you.

We developers want to help. The best, most efficient way we can help is by creating good documentation that clearly speaks in language our users can understand. The best way you can help is to try and articulate the exact steps you took to create/try to fix the problem you are now currently having.

“It’s broken, please fix” will help neither.

Write good tickets.

Similar Posts