At beequick, our top priority is answering to support tickets/incoming mail. When a customer asks us something, we try out best to answer in the following hours. However this is not the case everywhere.
The current state of support
I have seen many companies where the employees would say:
This is Tom’s problem, he has some holiday, so I won’t answer that ticket.
And the ticket stays unanswered for a week or more. What a nonsense !
An other problem appears when separating the support team from the development team. Rule number 5 of Six simple Rules states:
5. Extend the shadow of the Future
What does that mean ? It is about responsibility.
If the people who build your stuff are not as well responsible for the support, your developers will not care if the product gets better. If your developers are not responsible for support, the customer feedback loop is broken. This feedback loop ensures that requests of your customers are getting implemented in your product. The customer feedback loop is one of the most important feedback loop in business, especially in the start up environment.
Put your customer’s requests first in line
I don’t have data to prove it, but from experience, I have always felt that customers who get quick answers are more loyal than others. Often a first support ticket that was answered quickly can trigger a purchase from the customer. For example, that’s what triggered the buy process when I first got a response from the support guys at fortrabbit.
It makes your product more valuable
A reason I’m never going to buy again from DELL is their poor support. 2 years ago, I booked a computer on their site, but I never received it. I had to speak hours over the phone with different persons who would never listen to me. They had standard problems they were able to solve, but anything outside of the standard was too complicated for them. I finally got my cash back but without any hassle.
When on the contrary, the support you get is personal, friendly and fast, you appreciate the product even more. It humanizes the product.
Having great support at the beginning doesn’t cost much
At the launch of your product/startup, you should try to do as much support as possible. Don’t try to hide the support button or make « premium paid support ». Support will bring you a lot of:
- Valuable feedback from real customers : what do they like/dislike, where do they have difficulty to understand your product, what is important to them and what doesn’t matter
- Trust : when trying a new product that just launched, you just don’t know if the product will still exists 6 month from now. Having spoken with someone about the product will at least give your customers more confidence.
Don’t eliminate support when you become bigger
When companies get bigger, they try to reduce their support budget. The reason for this is the scale argument : we are currently scaling our business, so we’re reducing costs. However, if you’re in the service business (almost everyone nowadays) , support is still one of the core component of your value. If you don’t continue to have nice support, your company will lose in trust, and thus in revenue.