Providing Documentation

When providing documentation, there are almost always going to be a great many factors to consider. However, going back to a simple system of asking the “W5” will get you focused in the best direction.

Who – who is going to be reading this? Who is the documentation being focused on? Who did read it?

What – what is being documented? What does it do? What could it do? What might it best be used for?

Where – where should it be located? Not only where, in general, the documentation should be located but where updates and additions should be added to the existing documentation.

When – when will this documentation be read? When should the documentation be read? When was it read?

Why – why is the documentation necessary? There are several schools of thought on why something should be documented. However, in a perfect world, the documentation is only for those not using the service or product, to begin with, as the UX/UI itself should be designed in such a fashion that it is intuitive and self-explanatory. This may not always be the case, but we also don’t live in a perfect world.

Think of the analogy of sitting down to a bowl of soup with utensils. Granted, most people will understand the soup is food and can be eaten and choose to eat in a manner comfortable to themselves — they may pick up the bowl and drink from it, or they may use a spoon provided. Others may need to be “spoon-fed” as this is something new, and they are not certain how best to eat the soup… think of documentation as “spoon-feeding.”

Remember that too much documentation or documentation that is too complex may be seen as the equivalent of force-feeding another bowl of soup after the diner is full and satisfied with their meal. No matter how great the meal, there will always be a point where you need to stop eating.

Photo by Lightscape on Unsplash

No Shortcuts

Learning a new shortcut can often take longer than the long way you already know.

When offering a new strategy or approach to something, keep in mind following the tried and true methods will always work. Sure, it may be great to find a new and better way but not at your customer’s expense or reducing the quality of care you would have provided before spending the time to find the new approach.

This doesn’t mean to say you shouldn’t find ways to improve and enhance your approach — only that it should not be at the expense of others when you do.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Ça va bien aller

Perhaps more a timely phrase with the current work environments being seen at the time of this writing although ultimately this really holds true no matter the case.

“Everything will be OK”

When working remotely or just providing support in general, one of the key elements you should be striving for is having your customer feel that all is well and things are just going to work out.

This also applies to yourself. You are your first customer of the day every day. You need to make certain you are in a good headspace to do your work. Remember, a smile goes a long way to helping someone feel better about their current concerns.

Start every conversation with a smile on your face and treat the conversation as though it was the first one of the day. This shows through to the customer, this also lets you shake off the earlier events of the day and give your best efforts towards the customer you are currently working with.

Vive les Québécois for this reminder.

Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

Remote Support

So it seems we’re all working in “Remote Support” lately, or at least hopefully we’re all working remotely.

Whether you are ordered to “Shelter in place”, or “Self-isolate”, or just trying to stay safe and healthy for any reason, working remotely is still a real thing and something for all employers to consider more fully going forward once this COVID-19 crisis has been addressed and dealt with.

I’m very much a “Support Advocate” believing in all things that provide support to both internal and external customers.

I know I haven’t been around for the last while, life’s been a bit hectic and things happened… OK, that’s an understatement, SH*T HAPPENED!!! Maybe read that with several underlines and few more exclamation points.

I’ve been fortunate to already be familiar with remote work and even more fortunate to be involved with an organization and team that are able and willing to help those trying to address this COVID-19 issue.

Although likely to be sporadic, look for upcoming posts about working remotely and dealing with less human contact than what you have been used to. For a bit of backstory, I’m coming from 25 years of direct customer service management to working online only in various customer experience channels for the last seven years. I’ll share what I’ve seen and done — hopefully, it will help.

Be A Trusted Resource

Value those people who tell you the truth, not just those people who tell you what you want to hear.

Pat Summitt

One of the most important aspects of providing support is the ability to be open and transparent with the information you are sharing… and knowing how best to provide that information.

Telling a customer the truth about a feature not working as expected, or perhaps not existing is much more valuable that find an obfuscated turn of phrase that is intended to provide an answer although not provide a solution. If you do not know, just say so!

Not knowing an answer is not necessarily a bad thing provided you let the customer know that is the case and also that you will find out what the answer is and get back to them with it. If you don’t find that answer, still get back to the customer with a response and let them know that, too.

Support is mostly about communication and building a rapport with the customers you are working with. These customers should know, or at the least be comfortable with, you will provide them the best, most truthful and complete answer you are able to.

Tell the truth… sugar-coat if you must but not so much you lost the customer. Going forward, you will both know you are starting from the same point and understanding.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Choose the Right Tool

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to treat everything as if it were a nail.

Abraham Maslow

Although pounding something into place may be satisfying and even possibly achieve the end results needed ultimately it may not have been the best approach to take.

Providing support requires you make certain the toolbox of resources you have at your disposal consists of more than a one-size fits all hammer. To continue with the analogy, you may need a screwdriver because it may be a screw you are faced with instead of a nail. Again, this doesn’t mean the hammer wouldn’t work but it’s not likely the right tool for the job.

Using what you believe to be the right tool for the job, aside from likely achieving the goal most effectively and efficiently also generally provides for the means to walk-back a solution if it turns out not to be correct.

Also to note, don’t just reach into your toolbox and be satisfied the first tool you grab will be the right one. Take time to review the problem and then look in your toolbox to see if you have the right tool for the job… and if you don’t, know where to get help with finding the right tool and learn how to add it to your toolbox.

One thing to remember, and often overlooked when you have a wide array of tools to choose from, if you are actually dealing with a nail go ahead and use your hammer.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

All Roads Do Lead To Rome

Never give up! It’s a rather simple philosophy to consider and follow. If you have a goal you want to reach you simply must keep trying to reach it. Now, obviously, this does not mean you will reach it because it’s your goal only that you must focus on getting to it.

Sometimes goals are really easy and sometimes goals are near impossible although no matter the case it is still a goal and something to focus on.

Do you want to help people? Make the effort to learn what they need help with and share that knowledge to provide the assistance they need.

Do you want to write something? A book? A play? A piece of software? Put pen to paper, as they say, and start writing.

One of the biggest challenges of achieving one’s goals is not so much in setting ones that can be met (it’s often time better to set goals just beyond that point), it’s the whole point of getting started! If you never take that first step you will never finish the trip.

The greatest journey’s in life all begin with its first step … and sometimes that first step might not be the right direction although that’s OK, there’s nothing to say you cannot change directions mid-course. Just focus on the goals you have set and keep looking forward to achieving them. Follow the paths that will lead you to there and don’t worry if those paths are not the one everyone else has taken.

We are all individuals and each in their own right has to follow the best path for themselves.

… and just like customers are all individuals, sometimes you may have to lead them down a different path for them to see the same answers others have found already.

Gone Fishing

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

ancient proverb

When a person finds a solution themselves (with help from support) they will often times feel more empowered to use the product and promote its usefulness.

Leading a person from point A to point B may accomplish the short-term goal of getting them a resolution although it does nothing at all to really provide a takeaway that is going to be beneficial in the long-term.

Making the efforts to help a person understand the concern they are having, in a language they can relate to and understand, will more likely give them a better viewpoint on possible future similar issues they may come across and allow them to help themselves more easily.

Obviously, from the aspect of providing customer support, you should still let the person know you are there to help them no matter the case although ultimately they will be helping themselves all the same.

Kindness Counts

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.


Always remember you may not know the circumstances another person is dealing with. An act of kindness, even the smallest and simplest ones, will go much further to improve any situation than almost anything else you can offer.

When dealing with a distraught person, and remember a customer is a person first and foremost, always remember to be at least considerate and that small act of kindness may be the key to resolving the issue at hand … and even if it doesn’t solve the issue you will see that it will have made it much easier to deal with. Give it a try!

Always be kind.


Those at the top of the mountain didn’t fall there.


Having a goal is as important as what the goal actually is although you must still work towards achieving that goal as it is not going to just happen because you want it to.

Much like Mallory said when he looked at Mount Everest, sometimes a goal is just because it’s there and often times not something you get done on your own. Always remember those who helped you climb the mountains of your goals as they deserve the recognition as much as you deserve to enjoy your achievement.