We’ve often asked ourselves: What’s the most natural way to provide customer support to our users?
As developers, we are continually trying to improve user experience, and customer support is a vital part of UX. While it was a no-brainer that we wanted to excel in customer support at Bugfender, it was less clear how we should provide that critical support to our users. We debated training a team of customer support reps. We could have outsourced it. Or we could have provided a digitalized help manual.
Because we built a product that streamlines customer support for our clients, however, superior customer service is part of our ethos at Bugfender.
Given the nature of our product, it would be silly to not respond to our users’ problems and questions quickly and thoroughly. So we knew we needed to find an option that not only works for our business—but works for you.
Sometimes… Customer Support Goes Very Wrong
Everyone has suffered from bad customer service at one time or another. Just imagine needing to call one of your utility companies–like your telecom or energy provider.
It’s expected that you will spend hours trying to solve even the smallest problem, sifting through poorly written and often outdated websites which probably don’t even answer your question.
If you’re lucky enough to reach a real person, they often lack the training to comprehend and meaningfully address your problem.
Talk to a Real Engineer or Designer Who Helped Make the Product
At Bugfender, it was very clear from the beginning this is not the experience we want our users to have. We want Bugfender users to feel free to ask questions and suggest improvements. We believe that all users should receive well thought-out answers in a reasonable time frame. All in all, we want to encourage our users to have a meaningful conversation with us.
Since the beginning, we made the conscious decision not to hire anyone in a solely customer-facing position. We decided that engineers and designers—the people who create and maintain our product–would be the ones responding to customer questions.
We’re Really Upfront with How Users Can Reach Us
Bugfender users can either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or click on Intercom, the little icon in the bottom right hand corner of the website that allows users to chat directly with our engineers and designers. Intercom is great because it is accessible to all users, whether they’re prospective customers or returning developers. You can chat with us while you’re logged in and viewing your application logs and issues.
This has several advantages:
When you ask us a question during business hours, there’s a real person on the other side who completely understands the question and can provide a timely, meaningful answer. You get real human being, not an IVR or a human robot with responses copy/pasted from a manual. If you reach out via Intercom after hours, our bot will supply you with helpful articles to help you troubleshoot in the meantime–but rest assured that the real humans at Bugfender will get back to you the following day.
By opening a line of communication, we are available to you as follow-up questions come up. Feels natural, right?
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Receiving Direct Feedback Is an Essential Part of Refining Our Product
This process helps us identify recurring pain points, analyze our frequently asked questions, and learn about the unknown unknowns that customers are experiencing while using Bugfender. Each time you reach out, we make sure to reply to you to answer all your questions. Your communication helps us improve our products for everyone!
Is it efficient to provide customer support this way?
The opportunity cost of spending time talking directly with customers means that we spend less time investing in other things such as building new features. Is it worth it? We initially set up our customer service this way based on gut feeling, but after a couple weeks we realized that allowing engineers to speak directly with our customers was way more valuable for innovation and quality than any feature we could build sitting at our desks.
Having an intuitive product that does a few things exceptionally for our customers is so much more important than having a product with a lot of bells and whistles that no one knows how to use.
This doesn’t mean that we will never hire any customer support representatives. Perhaps at some point it will be advantageous to hire a customer support team to field questions. But at the current stage of the company, with a few thousand customers, the advantage of providing our engineers as a resource to our customers is clear. And the value we get from it is tremendous!
So, for the time being, we are the customer support at Bugfender. Unless things change a lot in the near future, we see this as the right path for a very long time.
We created Bugfender for developers who value providing their users with excellent customer support. Our tool seamlessly collects the logs directly from users’ devices, regardless of where they are in the world.
Bugfender provides you with access to each user’s log on a searchable database. You can search for any user’s device and see what they did on the device, what went wrong, and most importantly, how to respond to the customer to resolve the issue.
It’s a game changer.
This post was co-authored by Sarabeth Flowers Lewis.