Upwork / ODesk for Support

I am considering getting someone on Upwork/ODesk to do live chat support. They would need to be available from 9-5 to answer questions but in that time may only get 3 to 5 chats coming in. The actual work time would be maybe 1 hour.

After talking to Upwork/ODesk support they indicate I would have to pay the full 8 hours even if for 7 hours they are not really doing anything. Does anyone else have experience with this?


Interesting. Seems like they’re not trying to get very creative with your needs :slight_smile: I’m guessing that if you arranged something custom with an individual you found on odesk you might be able to work it out?

I’m in a similar situation where it would be great to have someone available from 9-5ish but they would definitely have much, much less than 8 full hours of work in that time period.

Probably if there was someone who was doing support and already had some time in between tickets for their primary gig, this might be a great fit.

Yes, I think I need to talk to the individuals to work it out. I imagine a lot of people on there have several jobs going at the one time and can swap between them as required.

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Would either of y’all be interested in on demand support for your customers? Seems like there is a pain point here?

I’m not sure what I’m envisioning, but it seems like it would be great if you guys could pay a low monthly fee to a company or individual who supported several SAAS products?

I guess you could call this productized Saas support?

Thoughts? Am I off the mark on this?

I would be interested in something like that. A lot of the support will be forwarded on to me anyway, I just want there to be someone to give a quick response and answer simple questions.

There was this one support service that I saw before. I think it was called elastic support or something like that. Looked pretty cool.

I sent them an initial email and in their initial response they sort of missed some of the detail in my initial email. So I wasn’t very forgiving with them - I figure if groking customer emails is their core business and they don’t nail the first one that wasn’t a good sign.

Now that I’ve hired someone I’m probably not in the market any more.

The tricky thing is that I think there is kind of a narrow revenue range where you’re not quite ready to hire support. After a certain revenue level of imagine businesses will want to hire someone dedicated.

But my hunch is it would probably be an interesting business idea to explore.


Looks like this is quickly becoming a competitive market. Checkout this thread here:


Lots of companies trying to manage customer support for other companies. Ha.

From the point of view of the potential support person, I can understand why they’d be reluctant to commit to 8 hours availability per day, but only get paid for an hour or two.

If you do find someone to do this, chances are they are not going to be a brilliant person who learns your product or company inside out and gives customers a positive experience on the live chat.


Outsourcing your support always sounds good, but it’s really a bad idea in all but some extremely specific scenarios.

First, support is a PROFIT CENTER. It’s really key, especially for bootstrappers who have little to no money for customer acquisition to nail every customer interaction, capture every bit of feedback, read between the lines on every half written reply, etc. Someone from ODesk is unlikely to give that level of consideration to each email.

Also, unless your app is extremely simple, you’ll need to pay a pretty substantial amount of money to train the person and as this is just a temp that’s a lot of money and worse, your time, being wasted on someone who might disappear tomorrow.

Nearly everyone is better off finding someone who works on a part time or contract basis with the understanding that this is a job and you’re part of the team vs setup as random hourly work which may go away for them at any moment.


Yes, I agree. I am not really worried about doing the support, I do most of it now already. The problem for me is because I am in Australia and have a lot of US clients when someone signs up I feel it gives a much better impression to have a local representative. I did have someone but they are finishing up because they were paid on commission and it wasn’t really working (they didn’t sell so commission was always low). All they did was field the basics and provide comfort to the clients, I still did most of the support.

I think what I may do is just set up a better voicemail message in the US and tell them on it to email support.

That sounds strange to me. Did that response come from Upwork or the prospective hire?

If Upwork suggested that then you may want to just do the math and list the job at a flat rate. In other words lets say 3 hours per day times 5 days is 15 hours per week, times the hourly rate your are offering. That equals your fixed rate for the project.

Hi Ian,

Great advice but It depends on your goals and objectives right?

We interviewed several product business owners for a support as a service business wpsaas.net and found that a lot of founders take this approach and get that value that you describe but they do not evolve from it allowing the support channel to consume all of their time.

This limits the ability to source - search, find, and train - a person so that you can scale the business.