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Phone It In

August 20, 2008  

You might scoff if someone were to suggest that phone support was obsolete, but Sarah Hatter of 37signals makes the argument that you no longer need an 800 number. "We get requests every day from people who don't think email support will cut it and demand a phone number to call us," she writes in a post at her company's blog. "Their worries are assuaged when they get a reply from me in less than 15 minutes that is informative, helpful and obviously written by a human being. It's absolutely 100% possible to provide excellent customer care without a phone or phone number, and our company proves that daily."

The Service Untitled blog adds a "yes, but … " to that claim. "A lot of times, a 10 or 15 minute phone call can resolve an issue that would take multiple days of going back and forth via email to resolve," they say. And with the concession that the online-only model works for 37signals, Service Untitled concludes that it probably isn’t feasible for most companies.

Here are the key questions they think you need to ask:

  • Can you afford phone support?
  • Will phone support increase the speed and efficiency of your company's customer-service program?
  • Do your customers expect phone support?

The Po!nt: The idea of conducting all customer service online is intriguing, but think hard before abandoning phone support. "Sometimes it is just necessary to pick up the phone and work with your customers live," says Service Untitled, "regardless of how efficient the medium is."

Source: 37signals and Service Untitled. Please click here and here to read the full posts.

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