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Support by founders revisited

by Max Al Farakh · Feb 23 2015

If you've read this blog before, you probably know that I am the biggest advocate for doing support myself. A while ago I wrote an article encouraging founders to reply to support tickets, where I wrote that founders should answer as many support tickets as they can. After doing it for another year I admit that I was wrong.

Founders are overqualified for the job

9 times out of 10, when a ticket comes in, I immediately know the answer to the issue. Most tickets are not interesting and boring, because they are too easy and not challenging. It's just the matter of typing an answer and nothing more.

Generally, founders are extremely overqualified for the support job. We have many skills, lots of other responsibilities and not much free time. Because of that, answering support tickets becomes annoying after a while. And when it becomes annoying, your replies start getting worse.

In the original article, I wrote "know when to take a break". That would work. When you become annoyed, you should just stop doing it for some time. But the truth is, I can't really take a break. There are plenty of issues our support team can't handle on their own, and one of the founders have to step in.

Now this is serious. I believe that the quality of your customer support is directly related to your revenue. My burnouts may cost us a pretty penny. Luckily we've found a solution.

Divide support into two levels

This is nothing new. Dividing support tickets into different levels depending on an issue complexity has been used by helpdesk teams for years. It just felt too "corporate" for us and we never bothered. We used the "everyone answers to everything" approach, which worked well until recently.

Now our support team handles about 80% of all tickets and I don't even look at them. When they can't handle something, they escalate tickets to our level. This approach reduced my load significantly and most tickets I handle now are more interesting and challenging. Me and the support team are working more efficiently together.

So far, the two-level support is a win-win situation for us. I have yet to find any downsides to this approach. Responding to as much support tickets as you can inevitably leads to a burnout. This is the case when we should prefer quality over quantity. Two-level support has proved to be an efficient way to do that.