Today’s topics covered 2 items.
Dr. Moderator or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
I couldn’t think of a good label for the first item and I like that one. This is going to be a long summary. 😉
Here’s the gist of it: the support team is the first point of contact for most users when it comes to WordPress. Thousands of topics later and the outcome of that contact is a positive experience for the user seeking or providing support.
Sometimes the outcome is a negative one. When that happens the tone changes from “Wow, hundreds of users helped, that’s cool!” to “Gee. The support forums and those people suck.” That’s unfortunate but it happens. Guess which one travels faster and farther? People are inclined to recall the negative, it lasts longer and has more legs. That has an impact to how WordPress is perceived as a whole.
As volunteers providing support, it’s important to keep in mind that almost everyone who posts in the forums has good intentions. It’s easy to over moderate (I’ve done it) but we’ve got to assume that someone who came across poorly didn’t mean to.
Here’s some support pointers that Andrea Rennick shared.
- Assume good intentions.
- Answer the actual question and then point out what to do next time. Help first, moderate second.
- Do it super nice and polite, try to explain. Some people take short brief sentences as more offensive.
- Use predefined snippets when applicable. Those are great for when you just can’t be chipper and feel the need to reply anyway. You may have to fake being nice in that case, that’s alright too.
- Say sorry a lot. Pretend you’re Canadian.
The last one got a giggle from most of us.
Small conversational niceties go a long way and help set a positive tone. Text, in the English language anyway, is a poor medium for conveying tone. But your words can smooth things over with someone who needs assistance. Just be careful with humor, it may not translate or be well received.
There are very few genuinely unpleasant people in the forums. If you engage someone and it gets heavy handed then step back and look for a second opinion. The #forums Slack channel is a great place to seek that opinion or help. We’re a team and we all have each other’s back. You are not alone in providing support.
The last thing to remember? Have fun providing support. Takes breaks and take care of yourself. I enjoy helping people and being part of the support team. But when I or anyone becomes grumpy then take a break or even a vacation. It’s worth it and you’ll come back refreshed.
Reworking the predefined answers in the Support Handbook
Tim Nash pointed out that the predefined replies may need updating and asked for some help reviewing them. Andrea and James offered to assist and those replies will be checked and updated as necessary. The last time they were worked on was in October 2014 at the Community Summit. They could do with some updating.