Mission: Diligent Support

Andrew Boon posted 7th of August 2015 in Boonex News. 17 comments.

While Dolphin Pro 7.2 work is being finalised, we decided to focus on our support system. We are a small team working with lots of clients, but we believe that there are things that can be improved anyway. Sometimes we miss important requests or fail to reply in time. Documentation is getting outdated and somewhat disorganised. A lot of clients have to rely on Forums for support from our awesome community, which is great, but not something we should bank on. 


Therefore, our short-term mission (for the next 3 weeks) is to put in place a "Diligent Support" platform and policy. Some improvements have already been done and we're going to do more.


Already working well:

1. Support Messenger in the bottom right corner. We are online whenever we can and when we're offline all messages go to support@boonex.com. The live chat looks like this:




2. The support@boonex.com email is now connected to a new Help Desk system, which we manage meticulously. It's been up for 2 weeks now, and our stats are as follows (and improving):


3. Forums have always been around, but in recent months we see a really good response rate from the community. Long-time members, developers especially, are doing great job helping newcomers. It's a win-win scenario when developers offer their products as solutions in appropriate situations, and also take time to just give a hand. BoonEx team now committed to checking Forums twice daily, and participating whenever needed. 


Working, but needs improvement:

1. Documentation in our Help Wiki. We have a lot of great useful manuals there, but as we move forward with new versions some of them are going to be outdated. Some screenshots already often look confusing. We plan to go through all pages twice - before and after Dolphin 7.2 release, and refresh the content. Any help would be much appreciated. It's a wiki, see.


2. Documentation in Social Software Wiki. We have launched this resource in hope to provide an independent knowledge base not only for Dolphin, but also for any other social software. Anyone can chime in and edit it. We believe it has great potential to give a wider perspective for Dolphin users and also offer advice that we couldn't host here at Boonex.com for various reasons. SSW is working well, but it requires more content, naturally. 


To be added/changed:

1. Knowledge Base (KB)

Although we have FAQ pages in the Wiki, they're not used much. Mostly this is because they are not presented as part of support-case flow. So, we may shortly be launching a KB connected to our Messenger and Help Desk, so that common questions could be looked-up before (or, hopefully instead of) writing to support email. 

2. Languages 

The new KB should be translated to a few popular languages, not just English. We couldn't do it effectively with Wiki, so this is another go.


3. "Custom Services" Page

We don't provide custom modification services, but many great developers from Boonex Market. We would like to list the best ones on a special page and refer to it when asked. Suggestions welcome. The page will go online along with 7.2 release.


4. Our Help section is likely to get a bit of a trim. Quality instead of quantity. 


5. FAQ blog - we will be separating a special Blog section with FAQ posts. One question - one post. It'd be different from Documentation or KB, because posts would be relevant for the time of posting (with the current version and situation on hands), and would depreciate gradually. It would also allow community comments for clarification. The most prominent posts would make it to KB. 



- We provide full pre-sale/post-sale support for licenses, registration, activation, paid-installations, BoonEx memberships, evaluation, hosting recommendation.


- We provide limited tech support for common and known issues, or issues that can be handled within 20 minutes with known outcome. 


- We do not provide any tech support for 3rd-party modifications. Ask the Providers/Vendors instead.


- We may refuse support for issues arising with modified sites when 3rd-party modification is a likely cause.


- We will refer the client to their hosting provider whenever the issue is caused by improper hosting setup.  


Other Ideas:

Here's what we think we could add...


- Community Chat. We have always been reluctant about this one, because chats normally have no way to re-use content, and therefore are difficult to scale. We might introduce one now, if we stick to the principle of adding valuable answers to "permanent" support sections. We'd most likely utilise "Slack" platform to power it. 


- Video Tutorials. We could make a dozen of basic tutorials. About a minute each. What topics do you think we should cover?


- Paid Custom Support. Another possible addition is a paid (timed) support for cases where custom work is required. Say, when a technical issue arises not from the software bug, but from lack of experience or due to 3rd-party mods, etc. What do you think could be a good way to time and bill it?


This is it for now. Please, review these plans and ideas and let us know what you think. What would you add? What would you remove? What would your change?

Thank you!

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I would suggest to improve forums a little bit with following features:
- allow to mark "useful answer" by topic author or moderator
- show "useful answer" just after the question (first post in the topic)
- mark whole topic as resolved
- search through resolved topics only
Thats what i have been saying( In mind) :p I wish there could be a separate forum for each dolphin module. So any problem related to the module can be searched easily with the above idea of Useful and resolved posts. Plus useless post could be closed or archived from the search result. Same goes for the Tickets section in boonex which is a mess due to too many unresolved/useless tickets.
I like where Boonex is heading with the support idea.
Keep one thing in mind though...with the amount of support questions Boonex receives on the forums, well the questions may increase because the software i'm sure is increasing in popularity which will give a higher demand in support.
If the response time isn't that great, it could reflect the reputation of Boonex and it's products unless you can get a community group together that handles the support while you guys continue doing what you're see more doing.

Contact some beta testers or members who you know that knows the Dolphin platform well and see if they would be interested in covering some video tutorials.
This would shave that extra work off of you so once again, you can continue to focus on what you're doing now and still have these things be done.

It would be nice to have a chat feature on here, it would open up a much broader communication aspect between developers in a more real time environment (with chat rules of course :P)

As you said at the beginning of this post "We are a small team working with lots of clients".
Dolphin is a huge platform, so with that comes huge documentation...well i don't know about huge but big enough.
For a small group to make Dolphin what it is today (of course with other developers as well) Dolphin has come a long ways and i am excited to see how far it's come and where it's going, and to have the documentation up to date and easy for newbies to understand is very important.
You guys have a lot on your plate and sometimes it crosses my mind that the Boonex staff focuses on too many things at one time, hence the reason updates and new releases used to take longer to roll out than you've expected, but i must say it's been a lot better (Sole opinion lol)

Write a post every once and a while or a bulletin or something saying "We are looking for Dolphinizers to donate some time in _______, if interested, contact us at ______@boonex.com

Thanks for doing what Boonex does for the community :)
Keep up the hard work.
Andrew Boon
Thank you for supporting us! Yes, we'll be engaging the community a bit more often now. Also started hiring some external beta-testers to do more structured reporting for us. Sometimes it helps to have perspective from outsiders.
My suggestion would be:
1. You keep the chat support regarding sales & pre-sales questions.
2. Tech support chatroom should be created, where members can chat about their problem with other members before creating a forum post. If the problem is real then they can create a forum post or search through existing resolved post.
3. Member having problem can create a new room for his/her problem where any other member can enter and leave suggestions. Active rooms will replace recent forum posts. see more More quick way of solving problem :)
4. Forum for each dolphin module. It would be easy for members to find the solution by going to relevant forum.
5. Paid support chatrooms for member having problems other than dolphin. Whoever will help can earn money ;) (Like you mentioned above)
Sometimes forum posts are hours apart, and you think a chat room will work?
Andrew Boon
Well, chat room requires a bit more activity. May be a good option for the near-future (fingers crossed).
They are apart cause members don't know who is online. So if members know the can communicate .
HL is correct here. I have answered a newly posted question only to waste time waiting for the person to respond and then maybe days later they will come back to the forum. I often wonder what is up with that, especially when they act as if they are in urgent need.
I am happy to read this. I actually contacted Boonex twice with some pre-purchase questions, but ended up going into the forums for support.
Andrew Boon
That's exactly why we're doing it. Really want to avoid any frustration from miscommunication.
Your users reside in 24 different time zones. I'm a bit skeptical about the usefulness of any type of live chat or message system. It may only add to a customers frustration if they don't get an immediate response from something they perceive as a real time system.

You guys have never implemented a plain old ticket system.Why is that? It's something a lot of internet users are accustomed to. Why try to reinvent support systems when you have your hands full with development chores? A lot of see more people think the ticket system in Trac is for support, so they are already familiar with ticket systems. What you guys were thinking when you put Trac under the 'Help' menu, is beyond my comprehension.... it wasn't a smart thing to do.

If it were me, I'd implement a ticket system that a group of 'Ticket Agents' could access, and tickets could be 'claimed' by an agent in that group. Once the ticket is claimed, no one else can interact with the customer unless the ticket is released by the ticket agent that claimed it. A problem I often see in the forums, is that a question can receive a perfectly good answer, then several more people come along and give not so good answers. There are many cases where more is not better... more sometimes creates a fog. I'm sure there are ready made ticket systems that can be used. If the agent that claimed the ticket can not resolve it, then they have the option of kicking it up to a higher support level, ie, you guys at Boonex. It would give you guys at Boonex a front line of defense, so you wouldn't have to tend to a lot of minor problems, most of which are because of a users inexperience with Dolphin.

For this to work, you'll have to have some sort of incentive program for 'Ticket Agents'. Award points for each ticket successfully resolved. Perhaps points could be redeemed for special products in the market available only to Ticket Agents. If there were some really cool products, it would incentivize people to become ticket agents, and then to put in more work on tickets.
Now that is the best suggestion yet! This is how most respectable internet sites do it. My hosting companies do it this way and also have a way to "escalate" a ticket if it is too complex. Great idea HL.
Andrew Boon
Thank you! Great suggestions!

We are in fact using a ticket system, but only for direct communication. Used to run our own, but switched to "Groove" help-desk platform (just need to focus our development on Dolphin, instead of all the "infrastructure" tools). And so far it's been great - users don't need to know it's a ticket system - they just exchange emails with us, but we see them as a group, assigning, prioritising, tagging, etc.

So, I do agree that we may not be very see more effective with the "online chat" thing due to time-zones and the nature of most requests. Today or tomorrow we will likely change the "offline" chat badge to a little Knowledge Base popup with direct email button. This should filter out good 70-80% of common questions.

Now, your idea about connecting with forum as a first line of defence is really attractive! First, as AlexT suggested we should improve the forums a bit - add the "best answer" labels, add "resolved" topics. Then, perhaps add a new group like "Experts" which would include the most helpful members and knowledgeable developers, and allow them to nominate Best answers. These things could be useful for general Dolphin forum as well.

And next step, just for Boonex.com would be to integrate an "Ask BoonEx Team" button to topics that can't be resolved. This would send us a ticket to support@boonex.com and we'd publish the answer in the topic.

How does that sound?
Andrew Boon
And I guess we can still keep the online chat running for the times when we are online, but no mention of it when we're not online.
Long time ago I already offered to translate the KB into Dutch, but I didn't get access :-(
Andrew Boon
Oh, must be yet another miscommunication issue. Sorry!

Right now we're preparing everything for 7.2 release, and documentation/kb/trac/etc will be changed quite a bit. Once that is settles we will bring the topic up again.

We may actually order some of the translations to an agency, but would ask the community to check them for us. Would be really nice if you could help then. :)
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