Threaded Customer Support?


#1

I would like to suggest that DreamHost implement a threaded customer support system to replace the current system.

The current system works when:

  1. only one reply from customer support is needed to resolve the issue; and,
  2. the one reply is adequate to resolve the issue.

If either of these conditions is not true, the system fails. Consider the following failure modes:

A. The client (i.e. me) sends a support request that does not include enough information. It goes into the queue with a 24-hour timer on it. The customer service rep (CSR) writes back (in, for example, 8 hours) saying “I need more information in order to help you.” I then reply with the needed information and my reply goes back in the queue with another 24 hours to wait. If the CSR takes 24 hours to reply (as has happened), then my “time-to-useful-information” is not a reasonable 8 hours, but an inefficient 32.

B. I send a support request. It goes into the queue with a 24-hour timer. The CSR misunderstands the request or provides a response that is inadequate to resolve the issue. (This, too, has happened.) I write back, saying “I’m sorry. You haven’t resolved my issue,” and the message goes back into the queue with another 24 hours to wait. I have one such case currently that is at 51 hours and counting.

A threaded model would avoid these failures without increasing the load on the customer service department. In fact, the load would decrease because issues would be handled more efficiently.

For example, in case A: I send a support request that does not include enough information. This opens a thread (or an “incident”). The CSR writes back (in the same thread) to say “Send more information.” I reply into the thread, and instead of going to the bottom of the main queue with a 24-hour timer, my reply stays near the top of the queue as an “open incident” (with perhaps a 1 or 2-hour timer). The CSR will see that I have replied, and can deal with the issue as he/she would have done originally if my request had been complete.

And, in case B: I send a request. The CSR sends a reply (in the thread) that is not adequate to resolve the issue. My reply into the thread does not go to the bottom of the queue with a 24-hour timer, but stays near the top. The CSR can see that the issue is not resolved and can refer it to an expert for resolution.

This system would be good for the clients, because it would reduce the “time-to-useful-information”. It would be good for individual customer support reps because they could potentially deal with complete incidents in a shorter time, reducing the need to go back and re-read previous messages. It would be good for the customer support department as a whole, because it would reduce the number of repetitive messages showing up at the bottom of the queue, giving a more realistic view of the current state of the queue.

Well, whaddya think?

–David B.
“greendavid”


#2

I don’t see how your request would change how long it takes to resolve an issue the times (multiple) I’ve needed to reply to what I was told by support I receved a very quick second responce almost always from the same person – weekends and times it got bumped to a senor support person being the exceptions to that.

51 hours? Ouch but how complicated was the question/problem/request?


#3

I don’t want to hash out my technical problems in public. I’m sure they’ll be able to help me, ultimately.

I’ve had quick responses as well, and some of the senior staff has been absolutely magnificent in terms of supplying complete and useful information (like Jason who does MySQL).

But there have been a couple of times when the support rep I’m dealing with has thrashed me back and forth with unhelpful responses spaced 24 hours apart. I was just thinking that if the third message in my thread said “2 hours to deadline” instead of “24 hours to deadline”, it might help speed things up, where appropriate.

–David B.
“greendavid”


#4

For what it’s worth, our support system does sort by case age and date / time received… The default is to sort the queue by case age before message age, so if you’re writing back in response to an existing ticket, your message should be dealt with pretty quickly. There are cases where a followup will take longer than it should (if support is really overloaded and / or if the question is more complex).

Your ideas are certainly interesting, and I’ll definitely have some of our developers look through your suggestions.


#5

Thank you for your consideration!

–David B.
“greendavid”


#6

I want to add that I’ve learned that it is normal that responses may take longer over the weekend. Newbie knowledge!


#7

That’s 'cause the support folks are usually hung over and what not!
:>


#8

[quote]I want to add that I’ve learned that it is normal that
responses may take longer over the weekend. Newbie
knowledge!

[/quote]

They may take a little longer, but we do have support staff here over the weekend. If it takes a consistently unacceptably long time to get an answer, it shouldn’t (and we’d like to know).

The one major exception is when support messages are mistakenly sent to Sales, and need to be forwarded on to Support. Our Sales Team isn’t active during the weekend, so it definitely adds time before someone can get back to you.

  • Jeff @ DreamHost
  • DH Discussion Forum Admin

#9

[quote]That’s 'cause the support folks are usually hung over and
what not!

[/quote]

Will is kidding. I think. As I said, the Sales/Marketing Team isn’t in during the weekends. :>

  • Jeff @ DreamHost
  • DH Discussion Forum Admin