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Employee Training

Building Scalable Support - Lessons Learned From the Chargify Price Increase

Greg DeVore - Oct 13, 2010 6:01:00 AM

This week one of our service providers, Chargify, went through a major business model change that shocked their customers and caused quite a stir on the Twitter, TechCrunch and Hacker News. To their credit, they were out engaging early and often trying to quickly make modifications to their new plans to appease their angry customers.

Yesterday Lance Walley, their CEO, posted about why they had to change their prices. Essentially, they had priced themselves into a corner. They worked primarily on a freemium pricing model but with a premium sales and support process. The two don't mix well.

Their original pricing made it very easy for businesses to "try out" their service. Any business could use Chargify to manage up to 50 subscription users for free. After that there were various price plans based on the number of users you had.

We already had a billing system in place before switching to Chargify but Chargify had a lot of features that were really nice, saved us a bunch of time and mode our lives easier. After starting out with the service we eventually became paying customers.

The problem for Chargify was that they experienced all of the costs associated with our account when we were free customers.

Chargify isn't simply a service you turn on and it starts working. Especially if you are going to use their API (which is the approach we took). Working with API's, no matter how good they are, takes time for customers and creates a lot of questions. Organizations that offer API's often have to spend a lot of time answering those questions.

In our early days I had questions about the product and how it worked that were quickly answered by phone, email and Twitter. And I eventually became a paying customer. But according to what Chargify is saying, there were many, many customers that never converted from free accounts to paying accounts, simply because they weren't growing fast enough.

Once again, most of Chargify's support costs were incurred while accounts were free (now that we are a paying account I rarely contact support at all). If your support costs are high for free accounts and very few of those accounts become paid accounts then your business will run into trouble very quickly which is exactly what happened to Chargify.

Topics: Customer Support- Entrepreneurship

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Turn Your FAQ into an FUA (Frequently Updated Answers)

Greg DeVore - Oct 6, 2010 4:41:00 AM

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) are a very popular and very effective means of providing technical and customer support. The question is, how frequent does a question need to be before it can become part of the FAQ? How often is the FAQ updated?

The truth is, most FAQs aren't updated continually. They are created once and then left alone. Creating the FAQ page is a project. Once the project is completed then it isn't revisited unless absolutely necessary.

Let me suggest a better approach. Don't create a FAQ. Create a FUA (Frequently Updated Answers). Just changing the title causes you to rethink the way you approach it.

Topics: Customer Support

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Great Customer Service Starts With Keeping Promises

Greg DeVore - Sep 14, 2010 4:54:00 AM

Last week I had to take my car in for service. I don't know about you but this has been my experience at every car service place I have been to:

Topics: Customer Support

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Software Documentation, the Customer Help Desk and Twitter - Tying it All Together

Greg DeVore - Jun 14, 2010 5:55:00 AM

In his post, “'Digital Natives' and the end of traditional hotline support”, Ellis Pratt describes how the model of support has changed from the 1990's. In the 1990's users would seek immediate support from people who were geographically near them (usually in the same office or workspace). With the advent of social media, geography is no longer important. Users, especially younger users, are first turning to Google, Twitter, email, instant messages and other forms of social media to get answers to their support questions.

These forms of communication are almost uniformly text-based. Where does traditional software documentation fit in this new process?

Quoting from Ellis:

Topics: Software Documentation Tips- Customer Support- Documentation Managers

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Creating a Web Knowledge Base? - Add Screen Captures to Increase Effectiveness

Greg DeVore - Jan 14, 2010 10:52:00 AM

Using a web knowledge base to answer customer questions can be a tremendous resource. They are easy to access and easy to update.

Most web knowledge base articles are text based, however. Adding screen captures or other visual elements to your knowledge base articles can dramatically improve the results your knowledge base delivers. Most people think that it is just because the articles are more clear (visual information makes instructions easier to follow). But they also affect the user's decision making when they are determining whether or not to read an article. Let's look at why that is.

Knowledge bases usually contain "how-to" type articles. When a user views an article in your knowledge base they need to quickly answer two questions in their mind:

Topics: Customer Support

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