Writing Support Tickets
For those new to MinistryPlatform, we know that it takes time to learn the right "MP lingo" and terminology to use to describe your scenarios. Regardless of the vocabulary, your need (and our goal) is to help you get ministry done!
Here are some general tips that can help us diagnose and assist you with tickets you may have. While it may feel like it's faster to have a phone call, opening a support ticket through the ticket portal and writing out the issue to initiate a request requires the SPoC to think through the situation, gather all the facts, take screen shots where appropriate, and provide the exact steps for reproducing the issue.
As one of our customers noted, many times the more time you take to write the ticket, the less time it takes Support to resolve the ticket! Sometimes you might even start to write a Support ticket, but end up not sending it, because during the process of writing it out, you find the answer or resolve the issue on your own!
Types of Support Questions
Most Support requests or tickets center around some basic questions like:
- How do I....
- I'm having a problem with...
- Can the software do...
- Is it wise to...
Basic Details to Provide
In order to help us help you efficiently and effectively, please include as many of the following details in your initial support ticket as apply.
Including these details in your initial Support ticket can certainly speed up our ability to respond effectively. Excellent communication builds trust and in the end saves both parties time. We understand sometimes your ticket is not a "black and white" scenario, so some of these best practices are not always possible. Provide what you know to be essential and if we need something more or different, we'll let you know :) We always do our best to quickly understand and resolve your questions!
- A clear summary of the problem (What problem are you trying to solve?)
- A link to any referenced record(s)
- Did this happen only for this <Record> only or any <Record>?
- Does this happen only on this <Page> only or any <Page>?
- Does this happen for only this User or any User?
- What type of computer (Windows-based or Mac) are you using?
- What operating system/version are you using?
- What browser/version are you using?
- Have you tried again after refreshing your browser and/or refreshing MP (sounds silly, but sometimes it does the trick!)?
- Have you tried again after logging out of MP and back in?
- Have you tried again after closing your browser completely (all tabs!)?
- Have you tried from a different browser?
- Has it ever worked as you are expecting?
- When was the last time this worked as you expected?
- Since then, have you made any changes to your servers, database, network, or security roles (you may have to check with other SPoCs to answer this fully)?
- Provide a detailed list of steps taken by you or the User (For example: From MP > Participants > I clicked Tools...)
- A URL link to a record that is behaving as expected (in contrast to one that is not)
- A summary of what you (the SPoC) have tried and/or been able to reproduce or deduce yourself (not simply what the User "said" they did)
- Helpful screen shots to show pictorially what you are experiencing (screen shots of the full screen are ideal including the title bar of window down to system tray with date and time)
- If available, a short video showing all the steps you take to produce the result in question (videos are ideal for clarifying hard to explain steps/behaviors)
- If the error says "Runtime Error" (see the image below), this is a generic error message. For self-hosted customers, please retrieve the related, detailed error message from the web server's Event Viewer application and include it in you ticket. For steps, see Q4 of this KB. Support can retrieve this additional error detail for HGT hosted customers directly.
Questions & Suggestions
- What is the context of your scenario?
- What are you trying to accomplish? What is your goal?
- What are the parameters? What obstacle or roadblock are you encountering?
- What have you tried? What did or didn't work?
Other Important Notes
- Remember, only SPoCs are allowed to initiate Support tickets, via the Support Portal, chat or email.
- As a SPoC, you should avoid copying additional Think Ministry personnel when submitting a ticket. We have internal procedures that will involve the appropriate team members as needed for maximum efficiency in resolving your ticket.
- As a SPoC, you are welcome to copy anyone in their organization on a Support ticket, and these people are welcome to "chime in" on the ticket thread if needed or desired.
- If you are forwarding an email from one of your Users, please resist the temptation to just add your own question and send. Even if the User has provided some of the information above, it is still the SPoC's responsibility to fully understand the issue, do any necessary research, and provide a synopsis of the issue filling in any gaps.
- Don't worry about sending in a perfect Support ticket, especially at first. We never reject a ticket because it is missing information. Provide what you know to be essential and we'll coach you along the way!
Video Topics: Tips for Writing Support Tickets
0:22 - Determining the Question You Have
0:54 - Details to Include
2:26 - Sample Issue
2:44 - Sample Question
2:55 - Sample Suggestion