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Idea: sharing customer support


#1

Kind of a random idea, and I thought I’d throw it out, more as a potential user than someone building it.

I have a support problem with LiberWriter: due to the kind of customers we have, we need high quality support, but not a lot of it: there’s no way I could pay someone to sit there for 8 hours a day, for instance, waiting for requests to come in. The ideal thing would probably be to have someone who can do a few hours a day.

That’s kind of problematic though, for someone who wants to do more than an hour or two at random.

Here’s the idea: have one or a few customer support people working as freelancers, split between 3/4 companies. The companies get someone who can dedicate a bit more time to doing the work because it’s not just this minimal amount, and the customer support people get enough hours to put together a part-time job easier than trying to piece together things on oDesk.

I think there are a lot of very qualified people in the US who are underemployed: stay at home moms, for instance, who live in relatively inexpensive places. I’ve had reasonably good luck so far tapping people like this for support roles, but perhaps it’d be possible to kick things up a notch by organizing things like this…

Thoughts? Anyone want to give it a try?


#2

LiberWriter looks like an excellent business idea, BTW.

I would worry about problems with multiple companies hitting at once. It could be dealt with by having multiple customer support people trained to support a company, but that would imply starting out with a fairly big solution. There could also be churn as some companies grow and others fail, resulting in a shifting support needs.

I wonder if employing someone for support and other tasks would provide enough work that you could have a person dedicated to your company. Startups for the Rest of Us and Bootstrapped with Kids have impressed me with the tasks that can be offloaded to a VA, freeing you to work on your business.


#3

It’s pretty good, but I’m a bit stuck on increasing the revenues. The reason people are signing up, rather than doing books on their own, is that they are not computer experts, and need some help. This often extends into things like downloading a binary file, and wondering why there are just a bunch of strange symbols (and on rare occasions, getting angry about this before understanding it).

Yeah, I don’t have all the answers, it was just a randomish idea. I think initially I’d just do something simple like allocate an hour or two a day per company. Even a steady 4 hours per day starts to look like a part-time job, whereas just one really isn’t much. I think you’d want to have a minimum of scale, to handle companies and people coming and going.

My idea to try it out would be one person, several companies, and see how it goes. Perhaps someone would be interested in running with it to make a business out of it.


#4

I know somebody who runs a company that basically does that. Not sure if they work on such low volume though http://cosupport.com/


#5

Yep, it’s a randomish idea, but also a business! I’ve been doing it successfully for 4 years now (cosupport.com), though we work with companies who have $5k per month or more to spend on a part-time customer support agent. Any price point below that and the quality of work just isn’t great.


#6

Thanks for stopping by Sarah. Hang out when you can, these bootstrappers can always use good support tips!


#7

This sounds interesting. I’m in the same boat looking for a few hours of support per day right now. $5k per month way out of budget right now.

I tried hiring someone on zirtual on the recommendation of someone I know. Didn’t seem to work that well. I think I need someone that’s a little more of a technical support role.