05 February 2013

FamilySearch Support: Most common problems, and an employee's analysis

Although this post was made on GetSatisfaction FamilySearch Feedback to a group of people fortunate to have found the relevant thread, I believe this data can be useful for anyone who has had rough times with FamilySearch Support--or wants to avoid the tough times. In general, FamilySearch Support does an amazing job to solve all of the genealogical community's many, many support needs.

If we as users, Family History Consultants, and others, take the time to understand what the top 5 support problems are, we will not need to contact support so often. We will be able to better help our friends and family when they run into the same problems.

It is encouraging to know that FamilySearch staff go to so much effort to be aware of user feedback and problems--and that they prioritize their efforts to improve the user experience. I have my fair share of complaints when I run into a bug or poor user interface, but I must speak well about what FamilySearch is doing in the background with all their hard work.

Here are the top 5 support problems from the past week:
(The remainder of this post is a direct copy of a publicly accessible post @
https://getsatisfaction.com/familysearchinsidetrack/topics/better_access_to_upper_echelon_support_personnel_in_familysearch_support )

1. Correcting information, Incorrect Relationships, and Data Problems: 1,322 cases, 20.0% of nFS/FT cases, 11.7% of all cases (3 weeks on this report at number 1; previously at #2 for 1 week)
The bulk of these issues deal with some piece of data being incorrect or missing. Some of the cases are handled by teaching the patron how to correct the problem. The bulk are sent to data quality to be corrected, because for the patron cannot correct the problem themselves. I reviewed 100 cases and here the top issues under that heading
a) 35% - Incorrect relationships (OFT-46870, OFT-55276) – This is really dependent on the users to fix the problems in the system.
b) 14% - Dead to living (and individual is showing as decease when they are actually living and this has to be corrected in the system) (DATA-587, DATA-887, OFT-11783, DATA-833) – This is a result of data not being brought over correctly into Family Tree. Engineering has done some work on this problem and the number of cases is starting to drop.
c) 9% - Wrong gender (TEM-3085, DATA-1293, OFT-55124)– This is really dependent on the users to fix the problems in the system.
d) 8% - Separate incorrectly combined records (DATA-2013, OFT-54334) – this falls under Issue #3
As I have thought about what engineering can do with these problems, the only thing I can suggest is to do mass repairs on the data where there are known problems and they can be fixed. As far as handling by Tier III and Tier II we have to continue teaching the patron when they can solve the issues so they can solve future problems on their own and working with Data Quality to get the other problems fixed.
2. Registration/Login, Registration/Login, Registration, and Login: 1,300 cases, 19.7% of nFS/FT cases, 11.5% of all cases (3 weeks on this report at number 2; previously 1 week at #1)
I broke this data out 3 months ago so it may be a little dated. I have someone breaking it out again and should have better data in a week or so. I thought this would be helpful for now.
a) 25% - Forgot username/password – The main thing that can be done to fix it is to simplify the self-recovery options. ICS has devised a new way of recovering information which should help with this issue. Support can do a better job of teaching the patrons the self –help recovery process. LDS Account Admin style access also helps missionaries better handle these issues.
b) 14% - Unable to sign in (IDENT-2158, IDENT-2129, IDENT-2128) – This has been in the past a result of the patron trying to sign into FT without first signing into nFS. It can also be server problems or problems with the account. Occasionally, it is the result of the wrong username or password. Again, simplifying the site will most likely help with this problem. We need to work to make sure the improvements made on the ICS side of registration and login are translated and readily available on the FamilySearch side.
c) 14% - Email not working – This is usually a problem of the patron unable to activate their account or unable to receive the self help emails. Engineering’s efforts is LDS Account 5.2 should help as there will be more methods of recovering information and for LDS accounts with a membership number and email activation will no longer be needed.
The bulk of the problems in a) and c) are handled in the GSC so there are not jira tickets applicable to them.
I am really interested to see how the implementation of LDS Account 5.2 changes our traffic volumes. Hopefully, with that implementation we will see a reduction in volume. We will keep monitoring this so we can see how requests from our patrons change.
3. Merge/Unmerge/Recreate, Combine (Match or Merge), and Separate: 406 cases, 6.2% of nFS/FT cases, 3.6% of all cases (10 weeks on this report at number 3)
I examined 50 cases under these headings they really come down to a core problem with some outlying issues.
a) 68% of the cases I examined revolve around the problem if being unable to merge or separate records. (OFT-55852, OFT-55829, OFT-55654, OFT-55700) – One of the big problems is the system has not given a proper undo function in Family Tree when the records were merge in new FamilySearch. There are still problems with large records and combining records with membership records. Part of the issue is a lot of individuals are need to be taught how to combine and separate, especially because we Family Tree is a new system for them. Engineering could help with this problem by providing better tools to work with IOUS records. Fixing the problem with nFS separated records showing a method of separating the records in Family Tree.
b) 6 % - Unable to find duplicates (OFT-54974, OFT-55051)– the ability to find duplicate records has been improving, but there are still things that can be done to improve this problem.
c) 6% - Looping pedigrees (DATA-569, OFT-28347) – It would be helpful to have better tools for handling these problems. A method to do bulk separates would be helpful. This problem has gotten much better also and most of our efforts need to be focused on the problems with merging and unmerging.
4. Policy/Procedure and Policy/Procedure: 379 cases, 5.7% of nFS/FT cases, 3.4% of all cases (10 weeks on this report at number 4)
a) 18% - Policy Questions
b) 14% - Release ordinances
c) 10% - Correct Information
d) 8% - Print a Family Group Sheet
e) 6% - Privacy Issues
We do not have any specific suggestions for this group at this time.
5. Using Family Tree: 282 cases, 4.3% of nFS/FT cases, 2.5% of all cases (10 weeks on this report at number 5)


  1. An issue that familysearch has right now (~12 Feb 2012) is an update issue and the "solution" is to chage the browser. Really? Change the browswer? What happened when before a release was done it was checked first. Gone are the days when the issuer took the accountability.

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Thanks for your kind and thoughtful comments.