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w̶i̶e̶l̶d̶l̶i̶n̶u̶x̶.̶c̶o̶m̶

One Reason Why I Like Doing Software Support and how it Relates to Quality Software Customer Support and Development Engineering

Although its been years since I started Doing Software Support, I just now thought of this aspect that of why I like it. Triggered by something I saw on a software support forum.

I like responding to each user’s individual question individually. That way I get the feeling I’m helping that one person with that one problem. It preserves the human aspect.

This has nothing to do with pointing the user to an existing document, no matter how well-written the document is. There’s always phrasing that could be made different- improved based on each individual user’s individual question. So copy+pasting, or linking to a guide won’t give the same feel.

However how can one balance this with doing software customer support as a job, representing a business? So many business models don’t allow for the high-touch required to respond individually to each customer inquiry. Thus strategies such as automated replies, copy+pasting, snippets, and pointing to existing documentation are widespread.

I think the take-away here may be that different companies do it differently. I think one big factor might be in how much the solution costs and what level of service the customer expects. From having listened to software support podcasts and read software support chats and blogs, I understand that some companies charge more and put importance on customer service. Like some high-end department stores that provide professional shoppers, one-to-one customer service, and also happen to charge higher prices. But their customers like this and can and do pay the higher prices.

On the other hand, some SaaS companies never talk to their customers on the phone, and use automated email replies mixed with snippet and/or copy+paste replies.

Where’s this thought process going? I’m reminded of what I’ve understood personalities, including Jeff Vincent of supportops.co fame, as in my mind the personality who I’ve listened to this most often, refer to as “the best support is no support”. Which means that designing or improving or fixing the product to the extent that it does what the customers need it to do, so much so that the customer never needs contact the support channel. I think Jeff Vincent’s personality also said or quoted something like ‘automate wherever possible, and be intensely human everywhere else…’ or something. This leads into the world of Software Development. Maybe even into the world where a Software Support Engineer also plays the role of Software Development Engineer (Software Developer), thus becoming a sort of Software Support and Development Engineer.

What is the conclusion? 1. It’s human and enjoyable to craft a unique reply to each software customer support request, 2. The paradigm that allows this is the one of the high-end personal-shopper expensive excellent-1-on-1-service department store, 3. Another paradigm that allows this is the one where the product is developed such that the customer never needs to contact support


[2019 edit: Moved to: https://investorworker.com/2016/... .html.]