I've been working on a comparison between three web hosts I recently stumbled upon, and have been thinking about signing up for (to be posted soon). One was great, I sent them an email right away and received an answer soon after. Impeccable support - even if they did try to sell me additional services and have me sign up for a more expensive plan than I want or need. The other two, however, didn't even have email support! Either you call in (and get put on hold) or you have to pop up their chat (and wait for someone to respond).
I haven't actually tried either phone or chat, primarily because international phone calls are hella expensive, but even more so because I like indirect conversation. I like being able to formulate my questions well before I send them, and I don't like to get questions I'm not prepared for. This applies to both phone and chat. The waiting time is a minor (but still notable!) thing compared to the luxury of being able to manage a conversation at your own pace. Send an email at your leisure, and compose a response when you have time for it. It's a very anti-stressful operation, and you have total control over what you say, when you say it, and better control over how you say it, if you take a moment to skim through the message before you send it.
What I don't understand is: how does the lack of email benefit them? It's not an expensive operation. They don't need to have staff ready to respond at all moments, nor do they have to pay for a subscription (as they do with telephone - usually at their own expense). I assume it all boils down to one of the following:
- They don't think people want email anymore. They think everyone wants a response right away, see that other companies are getting rid of email support, and then jump on the bandwagon.
- They know that people can make impulsive choices while having a direct conversation, and that they might sell more through support via phone or chat.
- They believe their employees aren't able to stall, slack or sit around doing nothing when support is in real-time.
My thoughts on these potential reasons:
- If they think this - they are wrong. GoDaddy - one of the big players in the hosting industry, recently introduced support via phone only. Waiting times were insane. People couldn't reach them when they really needed help. Not everyone could call in via phone. Google around and you'll see the debate on this change still flares high, and yet GoDaddy still offers no other alternative. One more reason to avoid GoDaddy. The others? Google and you shall find out!
- It's true they might sell more. They might also get customers who regret their decisions and use their 'money back guarantee' shortly after, or just unhappy customers. And on that note, maybe customers who enjoy email, like me, avoid them entirely? For those who prefer a direct conversation, sure, use it for marketing if you like, but don't take it out on the rest of us.
- If they truly reason like this, they're a company I wouldn't want to work for, and thus also a company I wouldn't put my trust in as a consumer. If employees are passionate about the company and what they do, such reasoning is moot. I believe that if the boss trusts their employees; the company is a good one, then the employees trust their boss and try their best to make it even better.
Well, whatever the reason is, I hope it's a passing trend. If you're a hosting provider reading this (or a company in any other branch of business for that matter), know that I'll do my best to avoid your services if I can only reach you via phone. Or chat.
Not to say real-time conversation doesn't have its benefit. If I really need to get in touch right away: if there's a serious problem I need help with ASAP, then I'll call. I believe there's a time and place for each communication method, and most times, for matters such as this email is the most useful. Support it, Support!