Support, but efficiently
Along with selling a product there comes support. Customers have questions and demands about the software and those are often repeating. This is where replies.io comes in, a service provided by my friends Stefan Fürst and Lars Steiger, originally initiated by Ruben Bakker.
Support eats up your time
Support can be time-consuming and easily eat up some hours of your work day. But at the same time it is usually not that much work, that it is worth outsourcing it, especially when you take into account that most of the answers still need your attention, since the support person might not be able to overview the specific technical details.
Replies.io, the smart time saver
Therefore, it makes sense to cut down the time spent on support by automating and simplifying the tasks. This is what replies does:
Channels and FAQ
First of all the users need to be able to get in contact with you. The most obvious way is through email. But what if you could also offer a support form that is already trying to cover the most frequently asked questions by analyzing what the user is typing? Replies.io has those for in form of web forms and a macOS framework. The later one is magic and provides even more benefit, since you get details about the OS, the installed version. The user can also send log files and screenshots and -recordings with a few clicks.
But even if the user did not find the right answer to his question in the FAQ or the suggestions, you still might already have answered a similar question. While typing your answer you usually get a proposal for an answer that fits well. This gets even better over time, with a growing set of answers.
If you are somewhat like me, you will fiddle with the look of the text a bit, but at least you'll try to get the quoted text separated from your answers nicely, which can be a pain in Apple Mail. With replies.io you click at the last word of the sentence you like to answer and the text box show up waiting for you to type. The best is, it will generate a perfect looking email for you. It also has the personalized salutation and the footer ready for you.
Defer your answers
One essential trick to save time is to slow down the conversation. In a regular email app, the mail is out when you hit "send". Replies.io instead has some smart presets for deferring the sending. This is useful, because if you answer very quickly, the user is very likely starting a conversation, since he feels like being in a "chat mode".
Also consider weekends. You might have time to answer a question, but you shouldn't send it out directly to avoid an unprofessional impression. You also don't want to get more mails on your weekend from the user. The user will still be super happy to get the answer early Monday morning and you saved your weekend.
React to crashes
And last but not the least replies.io integrates with Hockey App. It is super useful for the user to get a feedback and understand that you are working on a fix. It is also super useful for the developer to start a conversation of what did lead to the crash and finally have the user test the fix of that crash.
Understand where you've spent time
You can also learn to save time when you understand where you did spend it. Replies.io has reports and counters that help you understand the problems users have. The consequence could be, that you modify your app and avoid questions in the first place. You also learn about the features the users desire the most and invite them to become qualified beta testers for these new features before they go public.
Conclusion: Replies.io helped me to get support under control and save a lot of time making use of the described features. I will not miss it anymore.