When you’re engaging with anyone online, rule #2 is “Address The Need”.
Everyone needs something. We listen, we may even understand what we’re being asked — but it that what they really need? If you’re engaging online, make sure you’re actually addressing the need.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently after a discussion with a support rep. A customer on Twitter asked if the upload timeout could be increased. The rep very diligently found the answer to her question — “Unfortunately, no.” I asked the rep why the customer was asking for this. A little investigation showed that the customer was trying to upload a file and it was failing. Was file size the issue? No, it wasn’t. So she really didn’t need someone to increase the timeout, she needed someone to figure out why the upload was failing for her. Armed with that, the rep was able to work on addressing what the customer needed, not just what she asked for.
(if you missed it, see Rule #1: Be Real)