Focus on New Users

Who are arguably the most vital customers your company or product has? Your “new” users. If they don’t feel supported and cared for, it’s not likely that they’ll stick around and spend money on your product. Currently at Automattic, we’re focusing our live chat support efforts on our new users, defined as those users whose accounts are less than 14 days old. We find that those users tend have some questions that we can help them with and achieve a “quick win” to help them get their site set up quickly and move on to using their website for what they intend, rather than getting bogged down in building it.

I think this applies to more than just WordPress.com, it can apply to any product or service. Focus on your new users and the word about your product will spread organically because of the support and level of service you offer to your new users, whether they’ve spent money on your product yet or not. Many products offer “priority” support to paying users. While this is all well and good, maybe we should also consider providing priority support to our new users. If they feel like they can’t get in touch with you for help solving their problem, they’re not going to stick around for long. By doing this, the hope is that these new users will be converted to paying users more quickly. People will pay for things they perceive as important to them, and for things that they feel supported in.

Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Customer Support

help-sticky

A few days ago I posted an article detailing the live chat initiative we’re working on at Automattic. One of the big things we’re finding is that the synchronous nature of live chat support is one of the biggest benefits to our customers. I think there are many reasons for this, which I’d like to go into more detail about in hopes that some more teams might consider trying a live chat option for their customer support.

Instant Feedback

This strikes me as the biggest benefit of live chat and other synchronous customer support methods. When corresponding via email, both the support agent and customer could go days without talking, and so a significant amount of time could be spent just reviewing what’s been said previously in order to craft a coherent reply. I understand that many email support interactions can be resolved quickly and with only one or two replies, but there’s always a few that take quite a bit of time and lots of replies. With live chat, we can walk through issues in real-time and walk the user through step by step, with them able to ask questions throughout the process. This usually means that the customer’s issue is resolved by the time the chat is over, which is around 10-15 minutes on average.

Quick Response Time

When contacting support via email, it might be a few hours or even a few days before you get a reply. With live chat, you’re connected almost instantly with an operator who begins assessing your question. In general, faster response times equal happier customers. When a customer is able to minimize the time between first contact and issue resolution, they’re almost always going to rate and speak well of your product and its support, and live chat allows us as customer support agents to accomplish that.

Informal Interaction

From my experience as both an operator and a customer, live chat tends to be a bit more informal than other means of customer support. The quick back and forth seems to bring out the humanness and personality in both parties involved. People tend to respond better in situations where they feel comfortable, and I think this informal-ness lends itself to a more comfortable environment for problem-solving to happen.

What do you think?