This is a very dangerous post to write as it might come back to haunt me a few years down the road. But actually, if the Riddle support ever turns bad, I want people to point this post out to me and get us back on track.

I have started many companies and thus also personally created many customer support organizations. Up until Riddle, I was implementing a rather standard way to handle customer inquiries:

  • Make it as hard as possible to reach customer support by gating the support form with lots and lots of FAQs
  • Try to reply using templates as much as possible
  • Outsource support to inexpensive workers
  • Separate support staff from the engineering team so that engineers do not get bothered with customer requests.

Does this sound familiar? It is probably how support is handled at a lot of companies (especially the part about making it hard to reach customer support).

Here at Riddle, we are doing things differently.

Support is super easy to reach. Just click on the Support Chat menu and start talking to us. Unless we’re asleep over in Europe, we will get right back to you. If we happen to be sleeping or on weekends, it just might take a few hours for us to catch up and get right back to you. We also post our support email (hello@riddle.com) pretty much everywhere. So if using our chat servide is not your thing, just drop us an email.

Looking good. Thanks for your quick responses throughout. Best of luck with the fix.
Doug

According to eMarketer we are on the right track. Most internet users just want support to answer their questions quickly. If that happens then it makes 89% of the users feel more positive about the brand and 61% will tell friends and family about the experience. These numbers should be all it takes to convince management that great and immediate customer support needs to be a top company goal – not an annoying by-product that someone eventually needs to deal with.

The bigger difference at Riddle is about who replies to your support inquiries.

We have no dedicated support team. Management, founders, engineers – we all pitch in. In fact, we’re customer service geeks and often try to beat each other getting back to a customer inquiry first (Mike tends to win most often to be honest).

Sure, I realize this will be hard to uphold as we grow, but I want to keep this way of answering in place as long as I can. If you make product managers, CEOs and engineers respond to support tickets, bugs get ironed out amazingly fast. Most engineers will rather spend 2 hours fixing a bug than responding to the same inquiry twice. And best of all, our “everyone handles support” philosophy means we’ll ship more bug free code and make using Riddle as simple and easy as possible.

Lastly, we try to avoid templates. A good reply to a customer should always be personal, which templates rather seldom are. It is a bit more work, but customers notice that they are talking to a real human.

Your genuine care for users definitely sets Riddle apart from other programs. Thanks again!
Julianne

We have gotten pretty good reactions from our customers for our support. Of course we do have bugs and things break, but by giving customers honest answers and fast responses pays off in these situations. Answering quickly and without templates gives the human touch that often turns an angry customer into a massive fan.

Obviously, we will have to find a way to deal with customer support 5 years from now, when Riddle has millions of daily active users and our current approach might not scale. But with that user growth, our team will also grow. If we make sure that everyone we hire knows that customer support will be part of his daily tasks, we should be able to keep this up indefinitely.

A snapshot from a support chat we had today

On the left I pasted a snapshot from a conversation with a customer today who ran into a bug on Riddle. We could not immediately help him as the bug will take a new release to fix, but getting back to him fast and acknowledging that we made a mistake is really all that matters.

Really fast and personal customer support is doable, even when you have millions of customers. Don’t believe me? Check out this great piece on how American Airlines handles support by Marsha Collier.

Another nice side effect of this ‘everyone handles customer service’ approach is that we force every single person in the company to use our product every day. You’d be surprised but this doesn’t happen in a lot of big companies. Since you can only respond to customer inquiries if you know how your own product works, you have to use it and play around with it frequently – this clearly benefits the entire company.

I once heard of a company installing a red support phone in the engineering office, which would not stop ringing until an engineer picked it up and responded to the customer complaint. Not surprisingly, that helped the company to fix pretty much all annoying bugs in record time. I wish my cable and phone company would do the same – my life would be a lot better that way.

As the days of the trusty old phone seem to be somewhat over, we use a web service from Intercom.io for our customer support. Intercom is very easy to learn and has a great mobile app so we can reply to inquiries when we are on the road and on weekends.

The best part about Intercom is that it provides chat and email support in the same interface. If a customer has to move on to something else and then comes back to Riddle later, the replies to his inquiry will pop up right after he logs in again.

An example of a LICEcap movie

The only other tool we use frequently is LICEcap. With LICEcap we can quickly record on screen video into an animated GIF, which is brilliant for explaining things to customers.

If someone asks: “How do I collect emails from quiz takers?”, all it takes is a few seconds of animated GIF recording to show the steps. You could probably do the same with a quick screen share, but we have found these tools always a bit difficult to set up for the customer. The image quality is sometimes rough, but the files tend to be very small and totally suitable for a quick show and tell.

The users love it – and have often asked us what software we’re using so they can use it themselves.

That’s about it – I want to ask us to challenge you to to please do take us up on these promises:

  • Questions from Riddle users are handled super quickly.
  • There will always be a person on the other end of that internet connection – never a bot.
  • The same people that make Riddle great will be the ones answering your questions – not outsourced to a low cost provider just to save money.

Are we crazy? Would this approach work at your company? Let us know in the comments or at hello@riddle.com.

2017-10-19T17:15:23+00:00