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Has anyone offered phone / Skype support for a B2C app?


#1

I’m thinking about offering Skype support for a few hours a day. The product is a new windows app with a few hundred paid up users and I’m the sole developer — with a day job.

My motivation is twofold. I’d like to stand out from the competition in terms of the support offered. But more importantly, I’m thinking to use it as an opportunity to speak to as many early users as possible — to pick up on feedback, features that are difficult to understand, things that might be missing.

While this would not be commercially feasible in the long term if the product grows — the price point is $47, soon to be $57 — my feeling is that it would be beneficial in the early months of the apps release.

I can see the potential downsides — inundated with calls from non-technical users. But it’s something that could be switched off at any time if it didn’t work out or was interfering too much with development. My T&Cs only promise email support, so there would be no obligation to continue it or offer guaranteed support hours.

Like most developers, I have a hesitancy when it comes to direct 1 to 1 interaction like this, preferring to hide behind a website, forum, blog and email. But I think this is a mistake.

Do any of you offer Skype support for a low value product? And if so, can you offer and pro/con feedback?


#2

I’ve never done this, but I just saw this on HN today. It might give you some things to consider.


#3

That’s what’s very likely to happen. The software price is $47, so I suppose it’s some small utility and it by definition it should be easy and intuitive to use. As commercial software, it should also have some sort of documentation. I don’t see how phone support adds any benefit here.

Some customers will like to see the phone number on web site, though. I know companies who simply keep auto-responder that asks for e.g. a PIN code to get to the support. And there’s no way to get that PIN code :slight_smile: Another way it to sell phone support for ridiculous price like $500/hour, paid hourly.

I used to have phone support for $100 product some 10 years ago. Never ever I will do that again.


#4

I offered phone support in the early days of Poker Copilot. It was unsustainable.

  • I didn’t learn much from the customers who called that I wasn’t already learning from other forms of feedback and from usability testing.
  • Some were really hard to get off the phone. They expected me to give them a long hands-on getting started tutorial.
  • Some were clearly computer novices, who just wanted anyone to help them understand some basic concepts.

I wouldn’t recommend phone support for B2C products.


#5

Thanks for the first hand accounts guys. I know from email and forum support that some users can have an incredibly low technical ability — such that I often wondered how they managed to download and install the software. In some cases the support emails are because they had difficulty doing even that.

I might have to rethink my Skype idea. But I still want to talk to end users, to see how they use the software, and what they find useful / not useful. Maybe I would be better off approaching individual users and asking if they’d be interested in a call to discuss their use of the software / expectations.


#6

I publish a phone number of the purchase page of my product and I am happy to answer people’s sales related questions. Occasionally I will do a demo via Skype or other A/V software. I get a handful of calls a week. Most people prefer to email.

But I try not to support stuff via phone. You can’t see their screen. You don’t know their level of competence. You haven’t got time to think through your answer properly. You may not both speak the same language fluently. It can be very frustrating, for both of you.

to pick up on feedback, features that are difficult to understand, things that might be missing.

I think you would be much better off doing usability testing for that.