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Everyone Can Contribute: Making Support Effective Through Contributions

Everyone Can Contribute: Making Support Effective Through Contributions

Presented at Support Driven Expo 2022 on October 20, 2022.

Everyone dreams of talking to someone who can solve their problem. Opening up ways for Support team members to contribute to documentation and code will improve the customer experience and the company’s efficiency and we can prove it!

Full write-up: https://wp.me/pHQ83-279

Cynthia "Arty" Ng

October 20, 2022
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  1. Cynthia "Arty" Ng, Staff Support Engineer
    Everyone Can Contribute:
    Making Support Effective
    Through Contributions

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  2. About me
    ● Many Customer Service-related roles
    ● Teacher > Librarian > Support Engineer
    ● Management experience
    ● At GitLab 4+ years
    ● Staff ~= Manager
    ● Documentarian

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  3. Credit: Mathias Appel, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Red_Panda_Waiting_For_Lunch_(31133617581).jpg

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  4. GitLab as of 2022-10-01
    ● 2000+ team members
    ● Fully remote in 60+ countries/regions
    ● 130+ Support Engineering (including managers)

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  5. Making Support (more)
    effective

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  6. Answer the following questions
    ● Do you work in Engineering?
    ● Do you have a Support team?
    ● Do you have a backlog?
    ● Do you want to increase your velocity?

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  7. Have your Support team
    contribute docs & code!
    Yes, really.

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  8. Common blockers

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  9. Support teams don’t have
    write access to docs.

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  10. Support teams don’t have
    read or write access to
    code.

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  11. Everyone dreams of
    Support fixing their
    problems.
    So how do we get there?

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  12. Part 1: Give your team access
    ● Talk to Development and Product.
    ● As many projects as possible.
    ● Ability to submit contributions to docs or code.

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  13. Part 2: A well-defined review
    workflow
    ● Build trust with Development.
    ● Have a process designed for anyone to propose
    changes, and get it reviewed.
    ● Make it easy for Support to contribute.
    ○ Example:
    https://docs.gitlab.com/ee/development/contributing/merge_request_workflow.html

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  14. Part 3: Avoid the small things
    ending up in your backlog
    Skip this:
    1. Support opens issue
    2. Product & Development
    schedule it (at the expense
    of other work!)
    3. It gets fixed
    4. Support finds out later
    Get this:
    1. Support submits a fix (and
    send a link to the customer!)
    2. Development reviews
    3. Fix gets merged

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  15. Based on: https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab/-/merge_requests
    Number of MRs merged by Support team member in main GitLab project

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  16. Support focus on bugs.
    Development focus on features.

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  17. Build it into Support
    ● Provide & budget time
    ● Job responsibility
    ● Performance review
    ● Onboarding
    ○ Example:
    https://gitlab.com/gitlab-com/support/support-training/-/blob/master/.gitlab/issue_templates/Documentation.md
    ● Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

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  18. Source: https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/support/performance-indicators/#support-mr-rate
    Average number of MR merged per Support team member

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  19. Source: https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab/-/merge_requests/82147

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  20. Source: https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab/-/merge_requests/79845

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  21. Source: https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab/-/merge_requests/81777

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  22. Source: https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab/-/merge_requests/81886

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  23. “I've seen minor contributions to the
    documentation directly deflect tickets, make
    answers frequently asked support questions
    publicly available/discoverable, and even
    mitigate or avoid customer emergencies. [...]
    I estimate each time the upgrade docs are
    updated by a Support team member, at least a
    dozen future support emergencies are
    mitigated.”
    - Greg Myers

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  24. “If a docs or code contribution I write helps a
    customer or another team member troubleshoot
    a problem in a more efficient manner on their
    own or it resolves their problem completely,
    that’s a win for me. It’s a very satisfying feeling
    knowing that something you did is improving
    the efficiency and user experience for everyone
    else.”
    - Anton Smith

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  25. “Having your code or docs update reviewed is
    an excellent learning experience that leads to a
    much greater, low-level understanding of the
    product and its components. If this doesn’t
    make us more effective Support Engineers, I
    don’t know what does.”
    - Łukasz Korbasiewicz

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  26. How do we make Support
    more effective?

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  27. Have your Support team
    contribute docs & code!

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  28. Everyone can contribute

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  29. Twitter: @TheRealArty
    SD Slack: @arty-chan
    about.me/cynthiang
    cynthiang.ca
    Cynthia “Arty” Ng

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