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PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:56 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 18, 2002 11:04 pm
Posts: 10508
Location: Seattle
We've heard this question a couple of times recently from customers who are new to NFO. There are many reasons why we don't offer telephone support, with the bottom line being that we can keep prices lower without it, and having phone support would not significantly improve the already very high quality of service here.

Here are some of our notes about support by phone versus the support request system that we use now.

- We reply just as quickly through our support system as we would over the phone. During our normal hours, someone is always sitting and waiting to help customers within a matter of moments.

- The request system provides a full history, with all responses stored automatically. Phone calls would have to be transcribed.

- Over the phone, we would need to ask what server is being referenced and verify each customer's identity with every call. Through the support system, identity is automatically verified, we are given a link to the server in question, and we can see at a glance what level of access the customer has to each of his or her services.

- Phone calls would only work for quick information and very simple questions, like "Where do I find the control panel?" and "How do I set my rcon password?". For anything that needs to be researched for more than a few minutes, like a performance concern or a complicated problem, we would have to hang up and call back, or send a follow-up email. This would not offer a notable advantage over support requests.

- When a staffmember is on the phone with someone, he or she wouldn't be able to handle other customers or emergencies that crop up. Because we don't have a large call center with many spare agents standing by, customers would have to potentially wait on hold for a representative while he or she is handling someone else, and customers needing support via other means would have to wait while phone calls are being handled. Waiting on hold on the phone is a bit frustrating, and it is inefficient to only be able to handle one customer at once, especially when a major event crops up that requires rapid responses to be sent out to dozens of clients.

- There's no way to post links over the phone. We have many KB articles (like this one!) that provide a wealth of information and which we frequently reference. Not being able to do this would mean more time spent duplicating support by re-explaining.

- Support requests can be submitted at any time, day or night, and we do sometimes check them outside of normal business hours. Voicemail does not work as well.

- I personally wouldn't be able to answer phone calls, because it would make me unable to do anything other than customer support work (and I have a lot of other things to do, behind the scenes). This means that customers would have to go to the support system to talk to me for any particularly thorny issues, in any case.

We tested telephone support when we first started out, for a couple of months in 2002, and we quickly learned that it would have these downsides, and that it would be expensive to run. As a result, we haven't offered phone support since then. We may revisit the possibility it in the future, if there is significant customer demand and we are able to find a way to do it without raising our prices.

.. but, what's a really nice thing about NFO? We offer service that beats other providers, even without a telephone number! Some companies don't answer for emails for days and need to be called for anything to get done quickly, but that's definitely not the case here. We even back up our fast service with an SLA.


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