Why is it when I ask a support question, I get a response

Why is it when I ask a support question, I get a response right away (usually not answering my actual question) and I am asked for more info, screenshots, etc. I provide those additional details as quick as I can, and then I wait and there never is any follow up with me. I pay for the support (at least that is the way it is presented).

Anyway, I am still hoping someone can tell me what is wrong with my plugin. My first customers details are showing up for any customers that purchased after him when they click on the tracking link. Please help. I cannot have the wrong customers details showing up.

-Peter

  • Elliott Bristow

    Hi @ luckyrhyno,

    I'm sorry to hear you've had issues with our support system. Let me give you an insight into how things work behind the scenes to try to explain why this can be an issue:

    We have a system that allows us to quickly locate forum threads that are either totally unanswered or have not yet received a response from a staff member. This system means we can make sure all threads receive an initial response from our staff in the quickest possible time.

    For obvious reasons it's not always possible to answer a thread in the first response, and the staff member who first addresses your ticket can not always give you a full answer and may need to refer to another staff member or the developer. In these cases they will usually answer what they can and ask for any details they need to be able to give you the best response possible.

    After the initial response that staff member is then responsible for ensuring the thread is resolved. If they cannot resolve it themselves they tag a developer or ask advice for another staff member, but in general they will keep track of your thread until it is marked resolved. This can sometimes lead to a delay in getting a full response, especially if that staff member is in a different time zone to you... we do work long hours... but when we do fall asleep on our keyboards it's generally time for a break. Equally, our developers are busy guys and cannot always get back to us support guys as quickly as we would like, which in turn can delay us in getting back with a response.

    We are always looking for ways to improve our service, and we have been employing more and more support staff over the last few months to make sure our response times and the number of unresolved tickets is always heading in the right direction.

    We're sorry about the times things may slip through the net... and our development team are looking into ways we can avoid this in future... stick with us... we're already better than we were last week.

    Regarding your other thread (and your sub-question in this one), Jack has already headed over there to update you and get that ticket moving forward. Hopefully he can get that one resolved for you asap.

    It's best to keep the discussion to one thread so that we can keep track of the progress, so rather than answer it here, I would suggest replying to jack over there. For this reason I'm going to mark this thread as resolved... but if you feel this needs further attention, please feel free to re-open it and we'll look into it again for you.

  • PiOfCube

    It's very tricky sometimes to get that "balance" in support. Particularly when dealing with IT. I don't think there's any one perfect method.

    However, for what it's worth, here's my opinion regarding this (after working in IT on and off for about 22 years). Sorry if this offends anyone... I really don't mean to sound nasty (or suggest that some people are "less" valuable than others) when I comment on some IT support staff not having the required knowledge on particular issues (any IT staff, not just on wpmudev). I'm also not criticising any users here either LOL.

    In a lot of support departments, you may have a large number of general support staff that do not have much experience in IT. They often follow on-screen prompts as they work through a problem with a customer... Like a flow chart... "Has customer plugged in the power cable" > Yes, No, "What's a power cable?" > "Has customer switched on machine". That kind of thing.

    Quite often, IT support departments *only* employ these kinds of support staff in the front-line. The really nerdy/geeky staff that might be employed by the company are stored away in the basement and dusted off only when needed (and recharged with mountain dew before being assigned a task j/k).

    The upshot of this is you will usually go through an agonising process of starting off from the basics and at some point you might actually get to a place in the flow-chart which actually deals with the problem you have. Try getting these kinds of IT support staff to jump ahead by saying "I've checked everything, power, ethernet cable, DNS, router config, blah, blah, blah but I still can't receive a connection on port xyz". They'd probably feint, have some smelling-salts stuck under their nose and ask "Have you plugged in your internet cable?"

    So, back to wpmudev... It can be frustrating to have an immediate response, only to find it's a call for more info. There really isn't a perfect solution but I do think that wpmudev are better than most.

    As Elliott Bristow points out, well, I think his point is this (and I can understand it). No disrespect to Elliot, but his status is "moderator". I'm not sure how technical he can get with all aspects of every plugin but I honestly don't think he could answer every question about a specific plugin. Unless it's a problem that's already been covered or is in the support's knowledgebase.

    By asking questions about the problem, he (and other mods) can get as much information from the user as possible and if it's already covered somewhere else then they can suggest that possible solution. If not, then it can be passed onto the more nerdy/geeky staff who can take a look (with as much information provided by the user as possible).

    Also, by doing it in this way, it presents the full picture of the problem so others that encounter similar issues can look at past threads and resolve them without having to wait... Good for everyone.

    However, even if every member of the support staff were able to answer 100% of problems within minutes, they would still need to ask the same questions (or almost the same) to make sure their solution was correct.

    Sometimes, it is the users' "fault" when they are asking for help and they completely baffle the support staff. I'm not saying anyone here is guilty of that... It is often a problem of the average user falling back onto normal day-to-day vocabulary (mainly because they don't understand enough about the thing they are using).

    It is often the case that a user will say "My computer doesn't work." which implies it won't power-up, boot-up, display any data on the screen. These statements from users will often make any IT support staff cringe and hide under the desk because they know they must ask something like "in what way does your computer not work?"

    An often used reply from the user is "It just doesn't!"

    Later in the conversation, it is revealed that their PC is working fine, it's booting up, doing everything right BUT the problem is the user has forgotten their login password or used caps-lock when they set the password but no longer has the caps-lock on because the PC rebooted.

    It would be a complete waste of time for the extremely geeky/nerdy IT staff member to go through all those kinds of questions. Getting some moderators and general support staff in to help out with all this can often get quick fixes but at least when an issue can't be fixed by general advice then, when those "mega tech heads" view the support ticket (or forum post like here), all that information is there and they might just read it all and say "Yeah... replace that ':' with a ';'"

    As I say... no one perfect solution and sometimes users might end up waiting a while for a fix. It will often mean getting to answer more basic questions in the meantime but better than using those support departments that refuse not to follow all those flowcharts and procedures. In fact some IT support departments are thinking about using those automated phone systems.

    Imagine this type of phone call:

    Thank you for choosing "My computer does not work":
    Press 1 if you have plugged in your power cable and switched on the PC
    Press 2 if you do not know what a power cable is
    Press 3 if you do not know where the power button is on your computer
    Press # to restart these support call from the beginning.

    Anyway... sorry for rambling on and if you're still awake... Thanks for reading.

    As I say, no disrespect to any users or staff here or anywhere else.

  • Elliott Bristow

    @pxwm Nice to hear a member say that rather than us staff telling people to stop posting new threads that are the same as everyone elses! :slight_smile:

    @PiOfCube You make some excellent points there. I've often been in a similar situation with support forums, and often don't even bother posting a thread on some because I have every expectation that I will not receive the response I'm looking for.

    To offer a little bit more insight into our methods:

    All our support staff have first hand experience with WordPress development, WPMU DEV plugins and (to a certain degree) general server technical support. Obviously individual experience levels vary, but in general whichever staff member hits your thread first, they will have at least some idea where to look for the answer.

    We are sometimes guilty of asking for more information rather than making an assumption, but sometimes this approach is the only way to establish how much experience the USER has in order to offer them an answer that they will understand. All too many times I've posted a reply with a nice snippet of PHP code that fixed the problem nicely, only to receive the reply "So how do I use this... do I need to install WordPress first?" (OK maybe not quite that bad, but you get the drift).

    Speaking personally, I've been in web development for around 10 years. Prior to working for DEV I ran my own webdev company, focused mainly on WordPress. I have developed my own themes and plugins from scratch for clients. As do many of our staff, I have my own sandbox site, and we are encouraged to spend whatever time we can fiddling with WPMU DEV products to see what breaks them and to try make sure we are familiar with as many products as possible.

    We have regular team meetings to discuss common issues, as well as smaller "Development Team" meetings where the support staff chat to the developers regarding specific plugins to suggest important bug fixes or new feature requests that have come to light via our forums.

    We are very involved in the products, and, I can assure you, there are no flow charts to guide us as to what to ask the customer.... or at least if there is, they forgot to give me a copy! The day they introduce the automated telephone tech-support line is the day I run for president of the world... since something has clearly gone horribly wrong!

    If this has not made you feel better about the WPMU DEV support team, please press 1

  • aristath

    The general process of fixing an issue starts with identifying the issue at hand.
    As Steve and Elliot already mentioned, we get a great number of questions on these forums that are like "My site broke". Without asking some questions it's impossible to speculate what went wrong and what's to blame.
    Sure that leads to delays, but unfortunately it's the only way to bugfix an issue!
    If you take a look at these forums, you'll find very few posts where the user gives us upfront all the necessary info like
    "I did this and that happened, I have deactivated ALL other plugins so I KNOW that this plugin is to blame and I've also tried it with the WordPress default themes so it's definitely not my theme, plus I get these errors on my server's error log"
    When they do, their problems are solved a lot faster.
    When they don't, it's only natural that we have to ask for more details.

    Just my 2 cents on this... :slight_smile:

    Cheers,
    Ari.

  • Margery

    Interestingly, I am facing a similar problem myself. I submitted a support thread 5 days ago, which is here: https://premium.wpmudev.org/forums/topic/wp-marketpress-authorizenet-busted-orders-page

    Support Squirrel Vaughan responded the same day, asking me for more info, to turn on debug and post the errors, etc. I did so within the hour, as you can see on the thread.

    Since then... *crickets*

    Frankly I'm less than impressed with the customer service here.

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