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Improving Support Options

I kicked off some discussion about how we can improve Firefox support options here:

Lets summarize and roll up ideas for how to improve and integrate all the various support channels and possible new ways to provide help to users on this page, and use it as the central place for building a plan for support improvements.

First lets Catalog all the support channels where we have interaction with users so we can figure out which ones need attention and improvement.

The end goal of all of this is to retain more users that encounter problems when using firefox and to continue provide the best browsing experience. If we were looking for a metric of success it would be that the ratio of download & installs is very close to 100% of the active userbase, and the user base has the highest satisfaction levels possible.

In the short run we need to build and improve the support offerings that are currently provided to end-users, do things reduce the number of mouse clicks and keyboard entries, and system interactions to providing helpful information. But in the long run the goal should be to not make the support systems we develop not needed -- the browser should just work! '-)

To achieve that goal we need ways to surface critical problems and make sure they get addressed in product releases, and back end services that are connected to the browser. Statistical information gathering on problems and comparision of that kind of data accross the various support channels is a major key to being able to quickly identify and deal with problems. Talkback and bugzilla might have the best systems for statistical analysis, but most of our support systems have no data that is gathered and reported. Each of the feedback and support systems needs to be able to provide metrics that help to surface the most frequently reported and/or important problems.

Just about all channels depend on a good back end of current and useful knowledge base entries. I think hooking all channels into a central knowledge base that can be used in a variety of ways is key to many improvements and reduction of duplication. Lucy suggests this central KB needs moderation and ownership, and arbitration among contributors when disputes arise.

Like with all the places where we have been successful with mozilla in the past we will need to engage and leverage an active and passionate volunteer contributor community.

Each of the feedback and support channels need to consider how to address localization issues so the support options can be extended to reach the maximum number of Firefox users, and volunteers in each local can get connected to users in their locale that need help.

Catalog of the places where Firefox users report problems & try to get help

Various Portals to Support Options

Real-time Options:



Time shifted:

places that we don't want support traffic going.

  • bugzilla
  • (currently the last, or sometimes first, resort if all the options above are too confusing)

Documented Help/Support Baselines:

Other kinds of related product improvement Feedback Systems

IRC #firefox and real-time support channel problems and solutions

  • The need to install, and know how to use, an IRC client puts a technical and time hurdle in the path of the expanding Firefox user base with novice technical skills, time, or interest.
  • Provides a good solution to the posting and rollover problem with trying to deal with high volumes of inquires on the forums.

Knowledge Base problems and solutions

  • Need better search on the knowledge base.
  • Making knowledge base page hit data available and integrating that data into decisions about:
    • how to present support information,
    • reducing click paths to most needed information
    • elevating problems that need to be fixed based on volume

are all keys to improving the support services and the product. How can we make this happen? Something like talkback's top crash report ( ought to be available for support problems or freqently visited knowledge base pages, and should be the topic of frequent ordered discussions about what needs to be done to get top items off that list.

  • The KB does have good ownership and arbitration. There are two people who look after it constantly, and one or two others who also take part. These people are knowledgeable and write well. The discussion pages work well in most cases. It appears that better discussion/ownership/arbitration process might be needed in a few cases when disputes occur among the contributors and editors of kb articles. A full-time contributor for this area is one possible suggestion. [compiled from MozillaVanilla, Lucy, chofmann viewpoints]
  • Some interesting discussion also surfaced around the idea that users may need to go down multple paths of a tree to find the answer that best serves them. Tools to help build the tree, graphically summarize and show the various paths, and methods to calculate and display the probability of fixing a specfic problem would be an interesting project. Probabilities might be base on user ranking of tree forks, or click paths taken.

Bugzilla & Reporting System problems and solutions

  • we're doing a better job on the goal we set awhile back of redirecting questions and general feedback traffic away from bugzilla by putting systems in place like hendrix, reporter, and the like; is there more to do here.
  • Bugzilla has built a good community around dealing with dups and has some systems to surface important problems (voting, dups, # cc'ed, etc..) anything to share with the other channels in these areas?
  • Do we have a good community around looking at the data provided by reporter, hendrix, and talkback and systematically translating problems in to actionable bug reports? What are the holes to fill there?

Webmaster problems and solutions

Still gets a lot of support questions and traffic. In Dec./Nov. 2006 the daily volume is somewhere between 15-30 messages per day.

An auto-responder has been set up to redirect most of these inquires to better channels, but continued monitoring is still needed to make sure useful reports make it to the right hands for investigating security, privacy, infrastructure, and product problems.

A goal for the overall support improvement project would be to get to zero/zarro webmaster support inquiries. How can we get there? Right now the numbers are headed in the wrong direction.

Additional Ideas

This page on google has good ideas about how we might sort out issues and get them into the right hands quicker..

right now legal, privacy, and unanswered support and help requests all fall into the webmaster bin making them difficult to pick out and deal with. Revised for Mozilla/Firefox the page might look like

I'd like to...

Report a problem

 		Problems personalizing your Firefox Browser
 		General problems using Firefox
 		Malicious addons or modifications to Firefox that displays weird toolbars, popups, home page hijacking, or redirects to strange sites
 		Inappropriate or irrelevant search results (could redirect to google.. we actually get some of these reported to webmaster) 

Report a legal matter

Learn how to… (e.g. delete my search history)

 		Personalize my homepage
 		Search for something specific
 		Delete my search history


 		Suggest a new feature
 		Request assistance for your website / Googlebot
 		Send praise
 		None of the above

I don't want a response, I'd just like to say...