Over at Service Untitled, Douglas Hanna is blogging about whether or not phone support is necessary. He links to a post by Sarah at the 37 Signals (Basecamp, Campfire, etc.) blog who adamantly believes that phone support is not necessary.Obviously she has some passionate visitors, there are 114 commments as I write this.
Here’s my take. The question you need to ask is, “Will phone support enhance my relationships with my customers?” The type of customer support you offer depends first upon who your customers are and second, upon what products or services you offer.
For example, 37 Signals does not offer phone support. But most of their customers are tech savy and are used to the online experience. I have been a user of Basecamp for years and I’m a big fan. Their knowledge directory is good, but not great.
I write another blog, Team UP! The Central Texas Relay For LIFE Blog! (yea, it’s a blatant attempt to increase my traffic:-) using Typepad. Typepad has an excellent knowledge directory backed up by e-mail support.
However, in both cases, no lives are endangered when a customer has a problem. No phone support is okay here because the customers are tech savy and the problems are not usually time sensitive.
But as several of Sarah’s commenters pointed out, there are certain professions where phone support is crucial. If I have a problem with my Blackberry, it may slow down my productivity and severely inhibit my ability to communicate. That is a time sensitive problem and I don’t want to spend a day or more waiting on a response from someone to tell me how to solve my problem.
If I have a problem with my bank or credit union, I want to talk with someone before my account is emptied out.
If your customers are comfortable in an online environment and the products and services you offer do not play a part in time sensitive problems, then it may be okay not to have phone support. But if your customers are not tech savy and you want to continue to enhance your relationships with them, then phone support IS needed.