Man, that doesn’t sound very user-centric, does it? But it’s true.

raised hand

Let’s say Joe has a question about his new vacuum/cat toy: when should he replace the bag that collects all the dirt/cat saliva? He goes to your website. Maybe he checks your FAQ (probably not, though, if we’re being honest). Finds your contact form (which is hopefully handy). Writes you a message. Waits for a response. When it comes, two hours later, Joe writes back “thanks”. Joe’s now wasted ten minutes navigating your site and writing to you, plus two hours waiting.

Let’s look at the other side of the coin. Tammy, your support rep, gets through her other tickets and opens Joe’s ticket. She reads it, maybe double-checks with her team or manual for the exact time period, writes a response, and clicks send. When Joe replies, Tammy opens the ticket, sees that it says “thanks”, writes “You’re welcome!” and closes it. Tammy’s wasted about 10 minutes of her time/your money.

This may not seem like a big deal, but it is.

Customers don’t like to wait. The longer you’re making them wait to get the answer to the question, the more you’re burning up any social capital you may have with them (and if you didn’t have any in the first place, you’re creating social distaste and potentially a social media crisis). When their friend asks how they like the new vacuum, Joe very well may say “eh, it’s alright” purely because of his experience waiting on the phone. All your work designing the perfect vacuum has gone to waste because of this one bad experience.

Support reps have more important work they can be doing than answering a question that already has an answer. Ten minutes of Tammy’s time dealing with this ticket could have been spent resolving a real issue that another customer was having: burning smell coming from vacuum, vacuum won’t start, cat’s nose stuck in vacuum, etc. She could have been writing documentation. She could have been taking classes about vacuum repair so she could give better support.

Questions are a waste of time because, usually, there is already an answer. We’ve seen our Instant Answer feature – which pops up relevant knowledge base articles as customers type you a support ticket – reduce support tickets by up to 40%. That’s almost half of your support tickets that already had an answer!

uservoice instant answers

This is the power of (good, well-implemented) documentation. It can answer questions quickly, saving both you and your customer time. Use our product or use someone else’s, but either way: double down on using documentation instead of staff to answer those questions that already have answers.


Raised arm in math class via Bigstock.

Parrot photo courtesy of Mathias Ripp