Apart from the ring tones of cell phones coming from our staff’s pockets and purses, ShortStack is a ring-free office. Why? Because 100 percent of our customer service is done through our online support desk. For a smattering of our users, the absence of phone support is frustrating, but in this brave new world, the decision to go phone-less is a business trend catching on at warp speed – and for good reason.
If your business is thinking about making the switch to be phone-free, read this insider’s scoop as to why phone support is becoming a thing of the past. As for Shortstack, the two main reasons we said “No” to phone support:
1. Cost: When ShortStack was in its infancy, the decision to not offer phone support was technically not a decision at all. We couldn’t spare the manpower to answer the phone all day. Instead we had users submit “help” tickets and would answer their questions as quickly as possible. As ShortStack grew and our budget was less shoestring, phone support was still not a viable option because it would have required either doubling our staff, or outsourcing to a call center. Both options were extremely costly and, in our experience, call centers don’t offer the same attention to detail that in-house staff can do. Online support allows us to be hands-on with our support, without having to staff way up.
2. Frustration for users and staff: At some point, nearly everyone has called a company’s phone support line. Was the experience awesome? For most people, phone support experiences have been the exact opposite. After waiting on hold, you get transferred around, put on hold some more, only in the hopes that you’ll eventually get helped. Next thing you know, it’s been 30 minutes. When you finally do hang up, chances are very good that your questions haven’t even been answered.
On the flip side of that scenario, offering phone support is no picnic for the person trying to troubleshoot the issue, either. Have you ever tried walking your mom through hooking up a printer, via the phone? The experience can be a bit frustrating (Love you, mom!). Without the ability to link to screenshots, video tutorials, or detailed instructions on how features work, (which can only be done online) the process can be long and painful.
Some users are annoyed when we tell them we can’t call them
If a user asks for phone support, occasionally they’re a little burned when they hear that we don’t offer it. But nine times out of ten, they’ll submit their online support ticket and are pleasantly surprised at our awesome turn-around time and thorough response.
In a phone support scenario, users might react negatively to a “I’m going to have to look into this more and get back to you,” response. Especially after they’ve patiently waited on hold. With online support, we can research a question, test it, get input from colleagues, and figure out a solution while the user is off the phone and going about their business.
Online support mostly helps our business
For the most part, hanging up on phone support has positive for our business. There are a few users who insist on it and when we tell them we don’t offer it, we realize that they might sign up with another company. This can sting a bit when these few include big brands that could potentially come, er, calling with big bucks to spend. However, in our experience, those big brands also need a lot of hand-holding, so in the long run, the resources expended to support them may not be profitable.
However, for the majority of our users, online support is their preferred method of communication. They are tech savvy, and ordering pizza, buying concert tickets, chatting with friends, and troubleshooting software is easy enough to do online. Making a phone call is more trouble than it’s worth.
Online support also helps our business because it is the best way for us to assist our users and troubleshoot their issues. With online support, we’re able to offer a nicely packaged solution to questions or issues, inclusive of screenshots, video tutorials, help docs, and detailed instructions that they can refer back to if needed. When users are submitting tickets, they can send screenshots and screencasts which help us determine what the problem might be. This would be impossible to do over the phone.
Long live online support!
We’ll most likely never switch to phone support because it just doesn’t make sense for our company. Despite the few challenges and small percentage of our users that would prefer it, it’s simply not conducive to our product. There’s a reason more and more businesses are ditching the phones and relying solely on the versatility of the internet to converse with their customers. With the benefits that come of being phone-free, perhaps it’s time you check out this brave new approach for your business.