I’m in process of switching away from a program I’ve liked for many years. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but a bad support experience was what pushed me off the fence. The support people weren’t rude, or even hard to reach; they just didn’t know the answer to my question, said they’d find out and get back to me, and never did.
More and more, I’m basing my buying decisions on support. I dropped Vonage for VOIP because their support was clearly outsourced and had no idea what they were doing. I don’t mind outsourced, but I do mind not giving support people enough information to answer questions, or enough authority to solve problems. I’ll never buy anything from Dell again for the same reason. Their PCs are fine, their prices can’t be beat, but their customer service people can’t fix a problem, and can’t even escalate it to someone who can.
For software – I have to be able to get support. I depend way too much on software working to put up with no reply to my email messages, no followup on problems, or no way to know my message has even been received. My work, my personal info, my conversations: I depend on software, and on the safety net of knowing I can get help if I need it. I won’t buy a bad product with good support, but there’s a lot of good software in the world. I won’t – and don’t have to – settle for anything but good support.
We do phone support here – tollfree in the U.S. – and while it’s one of our biggest expenses, there’s no way we’ll drop it. Yes, it takes more time to talk to someone on the phone than to email them, but when someone needs help, we want to provide it, whatever it takes. And email is not always the best way to communicate, or even always a reliable way. No matter how good our email sending is, if someone can’t receive it, the communication doesn’t happen.
I’m proud of a number of things we’ve accomplished in the last 10 years, and high on the list is the killer support we provide. I’ve heard some of the conversations, and I’m always impressed. If every company – software or otherwise – had as good support as we do, things would be a lot easier for everyone. And I think that many, many people – the people who actually use, need and call the support lines – would be a lot less stressed and angry so much of the time.