Setting yourself up for success when requesting support

After launching, your great new utility website enters a new stage of life: support and maintenance.

We work hard to create a polished, functional site and to make sure you understand how to operate and update your cooperative or utility website. One of our goals is to minimize the amount of assistance you will need, but it’s important to acknowledge that issues and questions can and will occur and we’re here to help!

When it comes time to request support for your website, keep the following in mind to set yourself up for success:

Sometimes problems just happen

Websites rely on a complex, interconnected system of software to work properly. Sometimes updates or unintentional misconfigurations can cause an issue — it’s just a part of website life. We do a tremendous amount of testing, but if you see something that seems wrong, let us know. We want to ensure you and your site visitors are having a positive experience when interacting with your new website.

Avoid the XY Problem

Many support inquiries are goal oriented, such as “I have an urgent message for my website visitors”.

On our side, one problem we often run into is a client asking us how to accomplish the goal in a particular way. For example, we might receive this request:

“How can I add a pop up message to the website?”

When we dig deeper with the client, we find the need is not to display a pop up message, but instead “I have an urgent message for website visitors”.

In this example, we might explain that pop up boxes present a poor experience for site visitors and instead suggest a notification bar appearing at the top of the website.

When reaching out for assistance, instead of thinking, “how can I use X to do Y?”, ask about the goal itself instead of only the proposed solution: “How can I present an urgent message to my website visitors”?

Letting us know your goal allows us to put our experience in building websites for utility co-ops, PUDs and municipal utilities alike to work and present a “best practices” way to accomplish your goal.

Clarity is key

When reaching out, our goal is one-contact resolution for you whenever possible. Clear information is the best foundation for speedy resolutions. The better we understand the problem, the quicker we can address it.

Ask yourself:

  • What should be happening and what is happening instead?
  • Is there a set of actions that cause the issue to appear?
  • Have I seen this issue before or is this the first time?
  • Do I have an idea of what might be causing the problem?

Write a great subject line

Clarity counts for subject lines, too.

Just like the final title of a book may be chosen only after the book is written, try writing your subject line after you have completed writing your message. At first your subject line may just be “Question”. Once your message is finished, you may realize your subject line could be “Display urgent message to site visitors”.

A great subject line:

  • Summarizes your message
  • Is as long as it needs to be; up to 20 words is just fine
  • Communicates if the message is urgent

While monitoring messages in our support desk software, a great subject line lets us quickly understand what your message is about. Good subject lines also make it much easier to find your message again in the future if we need to review it.

Show us what you see

A great way to increase the amount of high quality information you include with your support request is to use visuals. As your high school writing teacher may have said, “show, don’t tell!”

Websites are an inherently visual medium, and many problems can be described as “this doesn’t look like what it should” or “this doesn’t look like what I expected”.

While we can’t peek over your shoulder to follow along, you can send a snapshot of things that look wrong, error messages, and the like.

To take a screenshot of your entire screen:

  • Windows 10: press Windows key + Print Screen key or Windows key + volume down button. The screenshot will be saved to the Screenshots folder inside your Pictures folder.
  • macOS: Command + Shift + 3. The screenshot will be saved to your Desktop folder.
  • iPhone / iPad:
    • for devices with a home button: hold down the home button and lock button at the same time
    • for devices without a home button: hold down the volume up button and the lock button at the same time
  • Most Android mobile devices: hold down the power and volume down button or home button and volume down button

A video is worth 10,000 words?

If screenshots are a peek over your shoulder, video is the closest we can get to sitting at your desk for a few minutes. Video allows us to see everything happening on your screen including things you may not have noticed yourself.

Another powerful part of video is your voice. Most of us can speak several times faster than we can type, and speech naturally contains tonal context that is easy to miss in an email. I use video frequently in my support responses to save myself a lot of time.

Video allows you to talk through and describe a problem in detail, giving us amazing information to start solving the issue.

Fortunately there are a lot of great screen casting tools available. My favorite is Loom, which allows you to record a video of your screen and optionally record a voiceover at the same time.

Once you complete your recording, Loom hosts your video, allowing you to send a link to anybody who needs to see it. Loom allows you to watch videos again later, download them for offline viewing, and leave comments.

Don’t be afraid to reach out

Support is included with all of our website plans. We can only help if we know you need help. If you have a problem or question, please feel free to send us a message. We really do appreciate the opportunity to ensure your continued satisfaction with your website.