3

I'm building a simple customer support request / support ticket form, and I think that it might make sense to enforce a character limit.

Long-winded requests can sometimes be difficult to fill. A character limit would make it easier for our limited support resources to respond more quickly.

On the other hand, character limits could frustrate the user.

Should customer support requests have a character limit? What would be an optimal character limit?

Context

We're a small start-up with a data-driven reporting application that is at times buggy and prone to failure. Also difficult to understand. (a redesign is underway)

  • For some additional context, can you comment on the industry? At the risk of digressing from a general view, it could better steer some concrete examples. – vphilipnyc Jan 26 '16 at 15:50
1

Unfortunately there is no way to force the long-winded to speak more concisely; a hard character limit is a band-aid approach that often just results in the user filing multiple partial reports your support staff will need to piece together to make sense of. By all means you can encourage it by using smaller input fields, but a hard limit will just annoy whoever runs into it.

If you can, limit the degree to which you depend on the user to describe their problem in a freeform text field -- use separate forms for different types of problem if possible, and if you can, break each report up into a few separate, relevant fields. That can be very helpful in both guiding the user to include necessary information they might otherwise have forgotten, and to describe it in a more consistent way that may be easier for your support staff -- and to guide them away from including information you don't actually need.

(As an example: we found that changing our internal bug tracking system from a single text field for "description of issue" into three separate "what did you do?" "what did you expect to happen?" "what actually happened?" fields, plus making the 'browser', 'version' and a few other relevant bits mandatory instead of optional, resulted in (a) some grumbling from the QA staff and (b) a dramatic improvement in the quality of the bug reports.)

  • (and, yes, I am very self-conscious about how verbose that answer was) – Daniel Beck Jan 26 '16 at 16:43
2

This is unfortunately a "it depends" question. A good request ticket should contain sufficient details for the customer support staff to diagnose the issue. How much info is required depends on what you're trying to troubleshoot.

Another thing to consider is that a longer description does not necessarily make it's more helpful if it's filled with irrelevant clutter.

Your best bet would be to talk to your customer support staff and ask what info do they typically need to diagnose the problem. Then tailor your ticket form to capture said info.

1

Assuming lengthy support requests are a true problem for the support team, limiting characters may not solve the problem. Your user will only discover the character limit when they intended to write more. That only leads to anger and discontentment.

Find out what kind of information your support team wants in each request, and use chunking to extract that from the user.

For example, if this was for an Internet Service Provider, in the first chunk you could ask what product they need support for (DSL, Fiber, Email, Other.)

Then in the second chunk, ask what problem they are experiencing (No connection, Need help setting up, Why is Skype not working, Other.)

Perhaps a third chunk to determine if they have taken any steps on their own to resolve the issue (Did you reboot your router?)

0

I would suggest you use some sort of "filter" that allows users to choose a topic from a list of common customer support requests/issues you have, this would help with having tickets that are more straight to the point and would allow you to implement a character limit. In addition to this, you should include an "other" option that would eliminate the character limit, or allow for a higher one, for users who need to give a more detailed answer.

0

I don't think a reasonable character limit would frustrate the user. The tricky part would be to figure out what is reasonable.

In my opinion, something in the range of 600 characters (3-4 paragraphs) should be enough to describe most tech-related issues.

Try it, and if you find that it negatively impacts the user, or the quality of feedback that is needed for the care team, it should be a quick and easy fix to have it removed.

Keep in mind that character limits alone will not be enough to keep your customers' feedback focused and succinct. Other posters have already suggested a few good alternatives.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.