The Secret To Improving Resolution Rates Isn’t In The Answers

The trick to improving the resolution rate is better questions, not more answers.

Most questions are far too broad to answer.

Compare two questions:

Bad Question: “My router isn’t working, does anyone have any ideas?”

That’s guaranteed to either be ignored or begin an endless cycle of frustrated helpers asking for more information.

A far better question might be:

Good question: “I purchased a D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wireless Router, Tri-Band, Gigabit Ports, Dual Core Power HD Streaming and Gaming DIR-890L two weeks ago. It worked fine on my 1 gig connection. However, after a power-cut, the internet lights keeps blinking red. I can connect to the wifi, but not to the internet through the wifi.

I’ve tried plugging it in directly and checking that the internet connection itself is working (it works on another router). I’ve gone through the steps in the manual and restarted the router with default settings but it still isn’t working.

Should I try to send it back or is there another option here that someone could recommend?“

If a question highlights the broad goal, provides context, seeks a specific answer, includes screenshots, and provides detailed specifics of what has been attempted so far; it’s probably going to get a resolution instead of just a response.

Your challenge is to teach and nudge participants to ask better questions. There are plenty of ways of doing this.

  1. Ensure questions meet a certain word count.
  2. Nudge people to include screenshots and specific answers.
  3. Include perfect questions in the onboarding process.
  4. Model perfect questions people can see.
  5. Include copy as people are typing their questions (or add a checkbox for them to agree that the question is specific and detailed).

When it comes to improving the speed of resolution (not just response), you don’t need more answers. You need to help members ask better questions.

Comments

  1. Jay Pfaffman says:

    For a longer version of this idea, see Eric Raymond's How to ask questions the smart way. The earliest copyright on that document is 2001, though I thought I first saw it before then, back when USENET was still useful.

    I sometimes think about how a forum could notice bad questions and prompt for better ones, but not long enough to get to a place where I could implement it.

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