Quality support has always been one of the core ingredients of the TalentLMS experience.
Indeed, the speed and helpfulness of our support team are considered one of TalentLMS strong points by individual users and review sites alike. And while our long-time customers have few (if any) complaints about the quality of the support they get, potential customers are often surprised to learn that we don’t offer phone support.
While we understand their concerns, we truly believe that a ticket system, such as the one we use, offers a superior and more effective support experience.
To phone or not to phone? Email and phone support compared
In this post, we’ll go through the pros and cons of email and phone support, and why we think ticket-based email support is a better fit for the enterprise customer.
Phone support is often perceived as faster than email-based support. You pick up the phone, dial a number, and you immediately get to talk to somebody about your problem.
When it works like this, it is indeed a great experience, and faster than what email support can achieve. That’s seldom the case though.
A real-life phone support experience often starts with the customer going through a “voice-recognition” bot before they reach a human support agent (and good luck with that for those of us with thick accents).
Or with the other popular alternative to voice recognition — tedious dial-tone menus (“If you have problems with your installation press #2, If you wish to change your payment method press #3, …), often several levels deep. You then get to spend several more minutes listening to call center muzak until a human agent is free to pick up the phone.
Email is much faster to dispatch: you describe your issue in as much detail as you want as soon as it has occurred, and can immediately have it registered and assigned a ticket id.
While this doesn’t get you an answer immediately (someone still needs to read and respond to your email), at least you are not stuck waiting just to get your support issue in. Surely you have better things to do than that.
All in all, while phone wins in perceived immediacy, and can lead to an answer faster for simple issues (if you’re lucky to chance upon a free agent, that is), a support email can be send and began processing in a matter of seconds.
Why not just add agents, so that all customer calls can be answered immediately — with no stupid dial tone menus and no waiting times and chimes?
Unfortunately, this only works for small companies. Such a scheme might be okay for a law firm, with, say 100 clients, but it’s not an option for a service that has hundreds of thousands of customers all over the globe.
There’s a reason even the biggest companies in the world don’t offer such immediate one-on-one phone call support. It’s just not scalable, and thus it either ends in the “no support agent is currently available …” waiting tone, in support costs passed down to the end product, or in costly pay-per-call support schemes.
Going with ticket-based support allows TalentLMS to offer top-notch support for all of our customers, without special fees and hidden charges — and that includes our free accounts.
When it is written well and includes enough detail, an email support request can be perfectly clear to the recipient. When crucial detail is missing, or when some things are assumed to be implicitly understood, miscommunication might entail. The support staff then has to get back to the client, which imposes a delay.
A phone support agent, on the other hand, can always ask for more information right then and there, until they are confident that they have all the details they need, which can save time upon the first contact.
It’s not all roses for phone support though. If the support information is to be passed further down (e.g. to the development team), then what the support agent passes on might differ from what the customer described — like on a real-life game of “telephone” (or “Chinese whispers”, for those in the UK). Email at least guarantees that the customer’s inquiry will be forwarded exactly as it came in.
That said, on the phone, it’s easier to explain more complex issues, and have a back and forth conversation until all questions are settled.
The right support agent that knows how to talk to customers can also calm down or motivate a customer when handling an issue, in a way that’s difficult for email communication.
Solving a support inquiry can be a complex process, one that needs several teams (operations, developers, administrators, etc) to work together. It might also entail back-and-forth discussions between the client and the support team.
While phone support is great for answering simple straightforward questions (how do I setup X), it’s not optimal for these more complex situations.
An email-based ticket system allows everybody in the chain to read the whole exchange, and pick up where the last person left off. This allows support agents to work on multiple support incidents at the same time and solve them faster than if they concentrated on a single one at a time (which might require an answer from another team or some action to complete) to the neglect of others.
Email support also allows the customer to respond to a request for additional info at their own time, instead of having them stay on the phone or ask them to schedule a specific time for a follow-up call.
Both phone-based and email support have their pros and cons. If we tally up the score, it’s 2 to 1 in favor of email in the four very important aspects of quality support that we’ve examined in this post.
Still, even that point in favor of phone support would only hold up under ideal conditions. Which is why we opted for email support, as the way to offer the best customer service experience to TalentLMS users.
That said, we do have some occasions for which we offer phone support:
- as part of our live product demos, during which customers can ask us anything they want about the system.
- through our “customer success manager” representative, available for our bigger plans (Plus and upwards)
- as part of one of our (paid) training packages.
In general, though, we are 100% committed to offering email-based ticket support, which we consider the best and more effective method of delivering high-quality support to our customers. If you’ve suffered through what passes for call support in today’s enterprise, we’re sure you’ll agree with us that there’s just no comparison.