Hi Anon -
Thanks for writing!
I don't think that the cost of long distance would be the big limiting factor, but rather the cost of hiring additional Support Techs to handle the increased load. That said, there are some other issues involved in our decision not to offer traditional phone-based support.
I've worked in a phone-based help desk before, and to be perfectly honest I think our current system is comparatively better. Here's why:
80% of all calls are usually really simple things that can be pretty easily solved with a comprehensive knowledge base. My previous employer didn't have that; If they had, they would have had far less of a support load.
The other 20% of calls are 'tough' calls, and require either some sort of further research into the problem or non-trivial time spent fixing it. This usually means that the technician (or sometimes, another technician) promises to call you back later, when the problem has been addressed.
This latter kind of call is pretty much the same as our system, except that initial contact is handled through the support form.
We also have the advantage of being able to route a request to the most qualified technician the first time around (instead of being moved up a hierarchy, you'll usually go to the right person the first time around). Another benefit is that we have your entire support history on hand for reference, which makes it a lot easier answer your requests without asking for the same information over again.
That said, we realize there is a genuine benefit from phone support: With ongoing ('tough') issues, trading emails back and forth with support can be annoying and counterproductive. This is why with our higher-end plans we offer call-back requests, wherein if your problem isn't solved in the first contact you can request someone to call you (on our dime, even if you're overseas). This also has the side effect of giving us a good incentive to fix problems the first time a customer writes in. :>
While we'd love to be in a position to offer 'full' phone support, we think that the combination of our extensive online help options (knowledge base, customer discussion forum, online form and email based support) makes for a pretty good balance between serving customer needs and keeping us in business. I'd like to think that most of our customers would agree, given the positive comments we receive daily and our 'grades' on the host rating sites.
I hope this explains things a bit! If you have any more questions, though, please let us know.
- Jeff @ DreamHost
- DH Discussion Forum Admin