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Support Onboarding

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Expectations of the Support Team

As members of the support team we are the first to interact with someone when they have a problem or question. As such it is up to us to represent the company and make sure we present ourselves properly. Therefore we are expected to:

Support Bootcamps

When you first join the team everything will be new to you. In order to get you started with GitLab quickly a Support Engineering Bootcamp Checklist or GitLab.com Support Agent Bootcamp Checklist will be created for you to help guide you through your training.

Tools

We use Zendesk to handle tickets, and we will sometimes schedule calls. That is most often done through Zoom, but can also be done through WebEx if the customer's system does not allow them to install the Zoom plugin.

1Password

Before your first day at GitLab, you'll ideally have created an account with 1Password, the password management tool that all GitLabbers use. Any service that you'll need to log in to while performing your duties will have credentials stored in 1Password - it's all you need!

Zendesk

For more detail on Zendesk, see the Zendesk specific page in the Support Workflows.

Zoom

Zoom is a powerful and light-weight videoconferencing tool that works for 90% of customer calls (see the bit about WebEx for the other 10%). As part of your support boot camp, you should have received a Pro account there so that you can schedule your own calls. To start a call, log on to gitlab.zoom.us using your personal credentials and click on "My Meetings" for a link to your personal meeting room. Share this with the customer.

Zoom allows you to see the customer's desktop and to control it on request; and it also offers the option of recording the call (we do not typically do this, be certain to ask for the customer's permission of you have a good reason for recording). It also gives the customer the possibility to join via phone and us the possibility to use our computer audio connection.

WebEx

For some customers, only Cisco systems are allowed and for those cases, WebEx will be the best tool for calls. To start a call / session use the GitLab Support WebEx account. Go to our WebEx Portal, click on the login button on the top right and use the credentials found in the Support Vault on 1Password.

WebEx Login

Once logged in, click the Enter Room button to start the WebEx meeting and send the following link to the customer and ask them to join the call.

https://gitlabmeetings.webex.com/meet/gitlabsupport

WebEx Room

Note: Make sure you lock the meeting so that you (as the presenter) have to allow people in. Otherwise others may attempt to use the room.

WebEx allows you to see the customer's desktop and to control it on request. It also gives the customer the possibility to join via phone and us the possibility to use our computer audio connection.

Handling tickets

Point to documentation, or make it

As a general rule, you should always include a link to the applicable documentation as part of your response to a ticket. If the documentation does not exist yet, then make the documentation and send the link to the WIP MR in the response. For those situations where making documentation is a more time consuming exercise:

Tickets with the "Document this" option are added to a Zendesk view "Documentation". A Zap is used to add ticket details to a Google Spreadsheet.

Create issues

During your interaction with the customers you will most likely need to create or update an issue, either for a feature request, for a bug, or for further documentation. Since we do everything in the open, it is good practice to send the link of the issue to the requesting customer, so that they can also keep an eye on the discussion there, and weigh in if necessary.

Workflow for creating an issue:

Typical kinds of issues created:

Typical workflow for updating an existing issue:

  1. Comment on the issue that another customer is having a problem, adding relevant details and a link to the Zendesk ticket. Also if it is an EE customer, add the ~customer label to the ticket.
  2. Send the customer a link to the issue and invite them to comment.
  3. If the customer replies with satisfaction that their concern is being addressed after seeing the issue, ask them if it would be okay to mark the ticket as resolved and to instead continue the conversation on the issue.

Sometimes it is helpful to create an issue on the support issue tracker when dealing with a tough ticket. Creating an issue allows more people within GitLab easy access to the questions and suggestions since not everyone is familiar with Zendesk. When in doubt, create an issue. Also see the section on getting help and escalating tickets.

Ticket fields

The only custom ticket field we use is the GitLab issues field. In here you will fill in every related GitLab issue that is related to this ticket as a way to cross-link between them.

Every issue you mention here must also contain a link to the ticket in question, either in the description or in a comment.

Use this field as a reminder of when and where to follow up.

Recording information about the organization

We use Zendesk Organization Profiles that are automatically generated by SFDC account information to store relevant information about the customer, like Market Segment, Support Level, number of licenses and TAM (if applicable). If you need this information, it is readily available from within Zendesk. To see this information, click on the link to the left of the requester's name (in our example it's the link that says 'GitLab' right next to Haydn's name).

Zendesk Organizations

After the first response

When you're expecting the customer to reply, the ticket should be marked as Pending. If this ticket doesn't receive a reply within 4 days, the system will automatically request an update from them. If we do not receive a reply within 7 days, Zendesk will automatically mark the ticket solved. A customer can always re-open an issue, so this is just to keep our process tidy.

If a feature request or bug fix has been scheduled for a future release (signified by a Milestone), you should let the customer know about the version for which this has been scheduled and when that version is going to be released, e.g. June 22nd for 11.9.

Sometimes a customer will send an email to ask for a response to an issue that was already created on a public issue tracker. In such cases, include the link to the given issue in the "GitLab Issue" box, go ahead and reply from the issue tracker, but also follow-up through Zendesk by providing a link to your comment in the issue tracker. Providing the response to the customer is what sets the "first response time" metric, and allows the tickets to be closed when appropriate.

Getting help and escalating tickets

If you're stuck, don't hesitate to ask for help with a ticket. You can ask any of your colleagues for assistance by @mentioning (avoid using @here) them in any of the support Slack channels and providing a link to the ticket with an overview of the issue. You can also seek assistance from your fellow GitLabbers outside of support in the #questions channel.

If a ticket must be escalated, please see the Issue Escalations workflow for in-depth details on how to do so.

When to mark a ticket as solved

A ticket can be marked as solved when you are certain that you were able to resolve the requester's problem, or, as mentioned above, automatically when we haven't received a reply from the requester.

Clearing out Suspended Tickets

In Zendesk, various filters send a ticket straight to "suspended" status. This is mostly useful to remove spam and it works quite well. However, it is possible that actual tickets are accidentally routed to Suspended Tickets, so it is important to check the new Suspended Ticket queue at least once a day. Doing this on a regular basis also keeps that queue manageable.

Avoiding ticket collision

Since we work using a "hot queue" system, it's important to be mindful of whether or not another team member is already working on a ticket that you're interested in taking on. Be sure to check out this section for information on recognizing when another team member may already be working on a ticket that you'd like to work on.

Update agent signature

Your personal Zendesk signature is shown at the end of every ticket response. You can update this to include a personalized valediction like "Thanks" or "Best Regards" by following these steps.

An example agent signature:

Thanks,

{{agent.name}}
GitLab, Inc.

How to handle emails forwarded from others at GitLab

Every now and then, a GitLab team member will forward a support request from a customer, prospective customer, user, etc. These requests then appear as tickets from the team member, instead of from the original requestor. Always reply directly to the original requester, keeping the person who forwarded it in the cc. You will need to manually alter the "Requester" field of the ticket, by clicking on the "(change)" link next to the email address of the apparent requester in the ticket title.

Receiving feedback

After 24 hours of marking the ticket as solved a survey is sent to our customers, where they can rate the level of support they received. If a customer rates a ticket to which you were assigned as bad, an email will be sent to you and the Zendesk manager to notify you of the fact. When this happens, you should let a Senior know about the problem and follow up with the customer to see if something you did can be improved.

You will also receive a message if the feedback is positive, and it is encouraged to celebrate those "wins" with the rest of the team through the #support-team-chat or #thanks chat channel. Read the positive feedback carefully, often it contains a question or suggestion for improvement which should be followed up on.

If a customer has useful feedback, please follow the Feedbacks and Complaints Workflow.

Customer Calls Best Practices

Before a Call

After sending the call link, go to the ticket and ask for confirmation. Having the customer confirmation will also help to detect errors on the scheduling process such as an incorrect timezone, date, etc.

Add the call with description and duration to the Support Team Calendar.

During a Call

Once you have started the call and the client connects, identify yourself. Example:

Hi {customer name}, this is {agent name} from GitLab Support.

If you started the call and the client doesn't join, wait for a couple minutes. After 10 minutes of waiting go to the ticket and send a reply to check if the customer is having either issues with the scheduled time or connecting.

If after another 5 minutes you don't get answer, go ahead and re-schedule.

If a call takes too long (> 1 hour), and/or if you're not making progress, discuss with the customer the need to schedule a follow-up session.

After a Call

Update the ticket with a brief description of what was accomplished or not during the call, making sure to point out the missing information to solve the ticket.

Keeping up to date with new GitLab versions

Since we ship a new release each month on the 22nd, and since we manage to fit a lot of great new features and fixes into each release, it is sometimes difficult for the Support Team to keep up to date with key changes.

In general, it is the responsibility of each Support Team member individually to read the release blog post, dig deeper where you need to or want to, and keep yourself up to date. However, to facilitate this further, we have a Retrospective every month (it is listed on the GitLab Team Meetings calendar).

Taking Time Off

You're encouraged to take advantage of GitLab's time off policy. Before taking time off, it's important that you ensure that any tickets awaiting your attention on the days that you'll be out will be handled by another team member.

Details on how to take time off and more can be found in the time off section.

Illness and Unforeseen events

You should always take care of yourself and make sure you are healthy. If you need to take a sick day or have something urgent to take care of, let your team members know via #support-team-chat Slack channel. If you have a call scheduled, ask one of your colleagues to take the call on your behalf or they can reschedule the call for you.