Three years ago “I wrote the following”:http://www.manton.org/2007/02/customer.html about customer support:
“Most people who buy Mac software from independent developers know that it’s only 1-5 people behind the company. We can’t compete with the Microsofts and Adobes of the world on application size, but we can compete on quality customer service. _Being small is a competitive advantage_.”
Seems reasonable, but the fact is that many small companies are struggling to keep up with the support load. “Jesse Grosjean recently downgraded”:http://blog.hogbaysoftware.com/post/468160055/support-expectations his support expectations for customers. From the official site:
“I’ll answer basic questions and license key/order issues as fast as I can. I also appreciate larger questions and feature suggestions, but I’m finding that I no longer have time to answer them all as I used to (mostly). I promise to read and consider everything, but you may not get an individual response.”
I’m a huge fan of Jesse’s TaskPaper and his minimalist approach to Mac development. He is very honest with customers and encourages participation starting with early beta versions.
But it can be damaging to set support expectations too low. Here’s what a support page says about support in “Pastebot”:http://tapbots.com/software/pastebot/, another one of my favorite iPhone apps:
“We try our best to answer every support question. But please make sure your question hasn’t already been answered in our FAQ. If you email us with an issue that has already been explained in the FAQs, we may skip the email.”
This seems slightly backwards to me. The questions in the FAQ are the easiest to answer! I respond to those immediately. It’s the hard questions for which I don’t have a good answer yet that usually take the longest time or are more likely to fall through the cracks.
Is the weight of support for iPhone developers just too much? TaskPaper and Pastebot are both very popular. I guess we can all hope to be successful enough that we find out.
Meanwhile, I had a question for “Beanstalk”:http://beanstalkapp.com/ yesterday and received a response in just 19 minutes and an additional follow-up response in under 10 minutes. I like to show off impressive companies, so I tweeted how fast their response was. “Their answer”:http://twitter.com/Beanstalkapp/status/11270045214 to my tweet? “We’re usually faster.”
Yep, that’s the right attitude. Set your standards high.