Monday, May 09, 2011

Sitecore Support: Help us help you!


Greetings,
Quite an unusual post from me today. I spent last week working on a few support issues via the helpdesk, and must say, I enjoyed being so close to the customer and partners. I’ve been doing this for more than 5 years now and still remember the fun old days where we had email based support and a shared spreadsheet with the tickets. But we’ve come long ways, and product support is no exception. In April, actually, we hit a record of 859 support tickets filed by our customers and partners across the globe. That’s no walk in the park!

I perceive Sitecore Support as a two way street. While we constantly work on improving the quality of our support services, tools and documentation, I believe that our customers and partners are getting better in filing those support tickets, which I have witnessed over the course of last days.
In order to help us help you, our team came up with a “Helpdesk Best Practices” document which is a really good read.
Also, here is the list of items that I personally would like to recommend. Some of them are already included into the aforementioned document.
  • Always attach your web.config along with the output from /sitecore/admin/showconfig.aspx
  • Always attach latest logs.
    If you are reporting a bug, verify that your log actually reflects the activity of your scenario.
  • Feel free to package up some content to reproduce.
  • Bullet lists are way better to understand than long unstructured sentences.
  • Sticking to the point and brevity helps tremendously.
    Try re-reading your support ticket at least once before sending it over.
    At the same time, some background information would not hurt.
    For example:
    we are having an issue with X. BTW, we recently upgraded from 6.0.0 to 6.2. Update-5. The problem was not happening before.
  • Support people love screenshots!
  • Walkthrough video or a short screencast is even better!
    There are a few free products that would help with that.
  • Keep in mind that it may take hours to respond while search takes seconds:
    • Have you checked SDN recently?
      • Our search is better than before. It actually finds stuff ;-)
    • Have you looked on the Forum?
      • There is a high chance someone had the same problem.
    • Have you looked on the blogs?
      • I use Google Reader sometimes to search within the Sitecore RSS pipe. Works great!
  • Licensing question?
    • Better to ask the regional Sitecore representative
  • Running old version of Sitecore?
  • Help us rule out possible options:
    • Try another browser
    • Try isolating custom code
    • Try isolating custom configuration
      It often helps to plug in clean web.config and see if the problem is configuration.
    • Try the same scenario on another item
    • Try another machine
    • Try another server/environment
  • And finally, remember that the support technician can’t see your screen, doesn’t know the error message you are getting and doesn’t know what UI you are logged into.
    The more relevant information you provide, the clearer a picture the supporter has and the faster they can help you.
I sincerely hope that this helps having the conversation via the support portal more efficiently.

4 comments:

Chen Hendrawan said...

Hi,

It might not appropriate to ask at this blog post, but I'm desperate :(

Do you know any sitecore support email address because I always failed to login to the sitecore support helpdesk. I can login to SDN tho. Thanks.

Alex Shyba said...

Chen,

Send me an email at My Initials @ sitecore.net and I will reroute you to appropriate channel.

Alex

Tufan Ermete said...

Hi Alex,

I cannot login to support.sitecore.net too, what should we do?

Thanks, Tufan

Alex Shyba said...

Hey Tufan,

You gotta be a certified Sitecore developer to access support via the portal.

You can either ask your co-worker who is certified to file on your behalf or get some help on the forum:
http://sdn.sitecore.net/Forum.aspx?

Alex