The right avenue for help systems is more difficult than it appears

Everyone has noticed and commented on our new myAmeriCommerce Help Portal to help us organize the many avenues of gathering knowledge about the usage of AmeriCommerce.  We are still pulling together all the pieces into a cohesive solution that does everything we want and need it to do.  I am curious what our users think since there are so many options.

Help Desk Ticketing: an organized way of responding to customers and categorizing issues, bugs and feature requests.  Although this system is not yet as polished as we would like, we believe it will be key to ensuring responsive answers and keeping the customers up to date.  It also allows the customers to see their present and past issues so they never lose their place...and so they never forget the value of our service!

Knowledge Base: Published questions and answers, easy to add and update for our support staff, you will see many more of these so if you don't like this avenue tell us now.

User Forums: This is a solution that will take a lot of time and effort to build a community of users helping to support other users.  We plan on incentivizing participation in this arena to help foster widespread support.  What has your experience been with user forums, have they helped you in the past?  Do you think it will be a viable pursuit for us here at AmeriCommerce?

Popup Help: We use this in the AmeriCommerce administration console to give direct immediate help for the feature you are looking at.  Less theory and big picture than immediate feature specific knowledge.  We are planning to add a link straight to related KnowledgeBase articles from here since they will contain more information and other related articles themselves.

Screen Reference Documentation: This is the typical help file scenario found in many applications and is admittedly one of our weaker areas being such a dynamic company with new features popping up daily and one of the harder ones to update and keep up-to-date.  We are searching for a more scalable solution and are investigating other methods for delivering this same content.  How important would you rank this area?  Does the popup help and knowledge base linked together actually make this irrelevant?

Training Videos: An area we plan to invest in heavily as well, guided tours of features and walk-thrus of how to do key things within AmeriCommerce.  Do you like video?  How important given the other areas do you feel it will be as a training aid?

We are trying very hard to enhance our support systems and would love your feedback on it since it will be affecting you so greatly and the choices made now will shape the path of how easy it will be to get help in the future.  Any help you provide will go a long way in furthering your goals as well as ours.  Till next post, have a wonderful day!

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Comments
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4
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Nathan4
February 17, 2007 10:01 PM

The Help Desk Ticketing System has been a great improvement and AC staff have been very good at keeping us informed once we've submitted our tickets.

Knowledge base is good - I think the 'browse topics' page/content should be more prominent - if you miss the current link you might think 'top10' and 'Recently added' is the extent of the knowledge base. i.e. make 'browse topics' the default home page and link to the top 10 etc from that page?

I think the 'screen reference doc' is still required to help fill the gaps when pop-up help is not available etc.

I used training videos on other sites prior to going with AC - I think they're a good sales tool if done correctly.

Brian24
February 20, 2007 11:03 PM

If there's a critical mass of users, I've found user groups to be FAR more helpful than a paid staff of customer support reps answering ticketed emails.  I'd much rather leverage a large community of experienced users than a limited staff of CSRs.  If you're going to pay them, why not just put those people to work monitoring the user group - as additional. reliable voice to the other users.

Ed Sturrock
February 23, 2007 7:30 PM

Great comments, thank you for the feedback.  Does anyone have experience with paid moderation?  Is it typically paid per post? hourly? etc?  Just curious as this area grows in popularity it will for sure need such actions.  Anyone willing to help deserves something (thus the incentives we currently offer, but inevitably need more than just that).  Of course, if any knowledgeable user is interested, please let us know.

NGB, thanks for your comments, that is exactly the sort of feeback I needed to lay out our path.

Peggy25
March 20, 2007 12:40 PM

You could always give the user a discounted service cost for their store as payment??  


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