April 2018: (Updated from October 2016): If there’s something strange going on with your cloud platform, who you gonna call? Part of choosing a platform is knowing what kind of end-user tech support to expect if you run into trouble. Just because an app is popular doesn’t mean you’ll get great support. Often it’s popular because it’s cheap, and part of the reason it’s cheap is it skimps on things like end-user support.
Here’s how to recognize apps that will help you out of an app jam:
Before you commit to an app that you’ll use to be productive, first look around its website (and its reviews on other sites) to answer these 14 questions:
- Homepage links: Are links to customer support or tech support easy to find on the homepage?
- Support options: How many support options does the app offer you? Phone, live chat, email, user forums, FAQs, and online ticket forms are the most common, and the more options, the more robust the support.
- Where’s Waldo?: Does the app make it easy to find support options or are they buried in the website? If the app deliberately makes it hard to contact support, chances are support isn’t a high priority for them.
- Cost: Does free tech support come with your subscription? Apps that charge a separate fee for tech support may annoy you when you’re having an app issue that’s not your fault.
- Support phone number: Is there a dedicated support phone number or is there one main number for everything? You’ll get faster service when the person picking up the phone works in support.
- Support hours: Do the phone support hours coincide with when you’re most likely to need it? If you will use the app at night and support is only available during regular business hours, be prepared for potential scheduling issues.
- Live chat: If they don’t have phone support when you’ll be using the app, do they have live chat 24/7/365?
- Response speed: Do they say they’ll respond to email inquiries within 24 hours? Anything longer and it indicates a short-staffed support department.
- FAQs: How robust is the FAQ section? Look for detailed questions about specific issues and responses that are instructive enough to actually be helpful.
- Guidance: Do the troubleshooting resources include screenshots, instructions, and where to look next if you still need help?
- Resources: Do they offer training videos, webinars, guides, or other types of training? The more resources they offer, the more serious they take support.
- User forum: Do they offer searchable user forums and are the forums extensive and moderated? Forums can be the fastest route from problem to solution, so the more they have, the more likely you’ll find the answers you need. Actively moderated forums are best.
- Complaints: Do forum participants or online reviewers keep complaining about the same things? Common complaints indicate unresolved issues and may eventually be something you might have to deal with as well.
- Maturity: Is the platform established enough to handle a lot of questions at the same time, like, after a version update or if the system is down? New platforms can be understaffed or the company may not know what support volume to expect.
Your answers not only tell you how easy it is to get help but how much customer service matters to the company. If the company covers its end-user support bases, they’ve probably covered their other business areas as well.
But let’s say a platform has skimpy support and inconvenient hours — does this mean you shouldn’t use it? If you’re OK dealing with subpar support to get the features you want or low (or free) pricing, you can give it a try for a month or two and jump ship if the app doesn’t deliver. But if it doesn’t offer great support and also requires you to pay for a year upfront with no monthly option, you may want to do some more research or look elsewhere.
Good tech support is available, effective, friendly, and respectful. Otherwise, it’s not supportive.
Leapfrog is extra aware of support that doesn’t live up to its name. As a managed IT services provider, our entire business model centers around helping clients leverage technology to meet their business goals. If something related to a client’s IT environment isn’t working properly, our Help Desk Support team wants to know about it so they can fix it. If solving the problem requires working with a third-party — a platform support center, for example, or an internet provider — we handle that, too. Using proven methodologies and tracking systems, and having enough highly trained staff on hand, are the keys to resolving the vast majority of issues during the first call.
If you liked this post, don’t forget to subscribe to FrogTalk, our monthly newsletter.