People ask me often, “Why don’t you have a support ticket system or use email for support?” I often find myself writing out the story each time, so I thought it time that it finally be documented in one place for reference.

When we started, we had a simple support ticket system. Eventually we moved that to an email based system. For roughly the last two years of this, support requests would stack up to such high quantities that it could take us up to a month to sort and answer them.

We were never priced to be able to hire that rapidly, our service was originally launched to cater to the needs of those who could find their own answers and didn’t need to talk to us about it. However, our pricing and quality led to unexpected popularity among different crowds.

Now, we could have halted growth and said “We won’t grow any further without extreme price hikes” to enable us to hire staff to handle the support needs of these new customers, but that would have completely gone against our launch goals: to break the market of excessive pricing and challenge the notion that quality requires high cost. Not to mention the pricing is part of the reason for the growth, so a huge price hike is basically saying “Company failed, go elsewhere” and I don’t think that’s really what anyone wants either.

So we were forced to come up with a creative solution to the problem. We began to look at some variables. First, what were people asking us about? Things like:

“Do you support SMTP?” (It’s on our front page)

“Can I use this with WordPress?” (We support SMTP, it is not required that we support {app name}, you just need {app name} to use SMTP)

Many of the questions would be answered by just reading the front page of our website or searching google for “how to use SMTP with {app name}.” We needed to create a bottleneck that forced people to either:

  1. Find it easier to seek the answer than to contact us.
  2. Be more thoughtful in their questions.

No matter what, if we gave customers or potential customers a wide open place to simply dump a question with ease, we were flooded with questions that indicated zero effort and little thoughtfulness. We get it, to them the question is of value, but we’re not giving up our mission and raising our prices because people want to ask questions more than look for answers. So we had to make it easier to find answers than ask questions, to reverse that impulse.

The second variable came to resources. What do we have that we can leverage? Well it turns out that we have an amazing community of customers that are thankful for the huge savings we’ve given them over the alternatives, many of which are very technically gifted.

So the idea was to build a community support structure and a public archive of already answered questions, with a reasonable ability to escalate to staff after following the path. So far it’s working brilliantly and we’ve lost very few customers over it, while hundreds are getting fast support when needed and telling us what a great experience it is. This is a much more acceptable outcome than everyone having to wait a month for a reply.

So while we will always be iterating on our support strategy to meet the needs of continually changing realities, this is why we do not have ticket or email support.