As I am responsible for providing support about web applications, WordPress blogs and Confluence wikis, I used to deal with several channels to interact with end users.
Here is a presentation of these channels, with their benefits and their drawbacks.
1) Emails via a shared functional mailbox
a) pros: the most straight forward way to provide a full support because:
- all users have emails software
- many features for text formatting make message clearer and understandable
- easy to include external files, screenshots
- easy to add people in copy
- emails can be archived, shared with other colleagues
None? Feel free to add yours in comment.
2) Tickets (tasks) on a JIRA dashboard
- avoid using emails
- easy to log time related to every task that has been worked on
- only basic features for text formatting which limits quality of reading
- requires users 1) have active account on the JIRA application and 2) they know how to use it
3) Intranet social network (Yammer)
a) pros: readable by a large number of colleagues, so they could:
- bring a solution
- push the importance of the issue because they face a similar one
- anticipate on the fact that they could face a similar issue later
- share to other colleagues that meet the same issue but have not requested for support yet
b) cons: requires to invest time in a social network: understanding its codes, being careful with content and exposure.
4) Comments on a documentation wiki space
- if correctly formulated, it brings new content to the documentation
- like on the Intranet social network, it conveys other people to participate
- if not correctly formulated, it makes the documentation unclear
- if comments text editor is limited, screenshots and/or external files cannot be added
5) Phone calls only in case of real emergency
- sparing some time with thanks to a more direct interaction
- reassuring users
b) cons: impossible to archive neither to share the phone conversation with the support team.
You notice I do not use online chat (yet). However, I plan to do it, because it enables a “half-synchronous” discussion, which is convenient for both end-user and myself:
- it avoids writing multiple emails in a short time span
- it can be archived and so used by another colleague or retrieved later on
- it helps solving an issue quickly