On phone support

Posted by Anthony on Feb 2nd, 2013

We discontinued phone support recently. Our rationale is explained below:

Phone support is difficult to scale.

You can't easily put a new person on the phone since you have limited control over the difficulty of calls they take. By contrast, you can let newer support agents respond to easy emails until they are comfortable handling more difficult ones.

Phone support is difficult to monitor.

It's time consuming to listen to calls, but scanning emails is quick and efficient. It takes me an hour per day to read all of our customer service communication, but it's incredibly useful. Our core team reads the majority of our emails as a source of ideas and to keep a pulse on how we're performing.

Phone support increases head count.

Phone support is more human capital intensive than email support. It's difficult to maintain the quality of your organization when head count grows quickly. Erring on the side of needing fewer people makes it easier for us to ensure all of our people are top notch.

Phone support is difficult to automate.

Email support can be automated by developing faqs, macros, videos and efficient routing systems. It's not possible to automate phone support to the same extent.

Phone support is not concise.

We aim to be clear, concise and comprehensive in how we respond to your questions. Often that means taking a moment to research an answer and review our response with coworkers before replying. It's not possible to handle a difficult phone inquiry in this manner without putting you on hold or calling you back later.

Phone support is not documented.

Special arrangements made on the phone must be documented by an agent who could record them inaccurately. By contrast, all email inquiries are associated to your account and can be viewed our entire team so that we are all familiar with your needs.

Final thoughts...

Since implementing this change, we have been diligently reviewing every customer interaction, documenting problems and developing solutions to prevent common problems from recurring. Most support inquiries exist because we failed in some regard. Either our process had a hiccup or our ordering experience was confusing. Already we have fixed dozens of small problems and more improvements are coming soon.

One small, related bonus...

We removed the phone number field from checkout for all US customers. Filling out forms isn't fun, but we hope cutting one needless field makes checkout a bit more pleasant.

Contemplating a similar decision? You may want to read Wistia's blog posts on this topic.


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