We text rather than talk, meet our future Mr. or Mrs. online and the most efficient way to keep up on our family/friends whereabouts is through a news-feed. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. However, society has now decided that we can be more efficient having interactions behind a screen or with an automated voice instead of a real human being. Can you remember the last time you called your TV or energy provider and didn’t have to press eight different numbers to reach an individual? I know I sound like one of those overjoyed actors on the Discover Card “Talk to a Real Person” advertisements; however, my venting is justified because even though I work in the tech world as a support guru, I am constantly questioning if it is the smartest decision to cut back on real support help and let users figure out their own issues. Below, I will pose arguments for both sides, whether it’s user-generated help or an entire staff dedicated to customer support.
Let the users help each other
Having a forum for users can create new connections: Every once in a while that user helping you with a support question could turn into a lead or vice versa.
Money well-spent: One of the main reasons most companies are going this route is due to the dollars they are saving. How much does it cost to monitor a user-managed page?
No more complainers: You see it all the time where people will contact support just to complain without having an actual question. At least now those annoyances can be answered by an automated question, cough cough, Facebook.
I can figure this out: Theoretically, without the crutch of an actual support person, users should be more likely to try to solve their own issues.
I will push zero five times as long as I can speak to someone
More than just the product: I can’t tell you how many clients we have that continue to do business with us because of that extra mile we go for them when it comes to support help.
Sell, sell, sell: Getting someone on the phone is the first battle but once you have them and their problem has been solved, is there any hurt in trying to up sell?
Make me feel special: Yes, people yelling at you can be tiresome, but at the end of the day some users just want to be heard and can a forum calm you down versus hearing a calm voice on the other end?
Working in support is often a gratifying experience because on a consistent basis you are changing people’s opinions of your product(s). Is either system perfect? No, but they are both effective. Just like death and taxes, the client is always right.
Which support option do you prefer? I would love to know your opinion. Any and all responses are welcome. Reach out to me on twitter @Michael_A_Fine.