I hosted a presentation about realtime support at the awesome Mozilla Summit in Whistler. Live Chat tends to be one of the most popular areas that new support community members assist with, so it’s a great place to actively work with a wide variety of people who love Firefox. Anyone with an active support.mozilla.com account can answer individual questions from users, but we highly encourage everyone to discuss what is being asked and to offer suggestions for other helpers’ questions. It is likely that another contributor has already helped with any given problem, so we solve questions a lot faster by sharing advice. When we find a new solution to a frequent problem or one which has been filed as a bug, the person currently leading makes sure it’s shared in the right places.
People who receive help through chat are most often very grateful for getting personalized help, and in some cases we have had satisfied users come back to help others. It’s easy even for people without support experience to help out – we have a wide variety of questions and an even wider variety of people to collaborate with. Expert community members, even those who don’t have time to participate in individual live chats, likewise play a valuable role by advising newer community members on more difficult questions.
Our purpose is to empower participants to talk to Firefox users, figure out the problem, and offer solutions. To achieve this, we have a wide variety of tools available – easy access to commonly cited snippets and links, an ability for interested contributors to request access to watch all chats, and a quick guide for answering almost any Firefox question. We also apply tags to chat sessions, which can be done while the chat is ongoing or while reading a previous chat log – we then use these tags to track trending issues and keep track of which solutions have worked.
The next thing we’re working on is integrating with the new knowledge base platform. Our goal is to focus Live Chat on the types of users where chatting is most successful, such as users suffering from issues where the documented instructions don’t help. More details are included in my slides from the summit, for everyone who couldn’t be in Whistler. If you have ideas about what we should focus on or ways you can help, we’d love to hear them on this blog, in the contributors forum, or in IRC.