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GSP Starting Guide: Supporting Users
About user support
Customer care and helpdesk is essential for keeping your customers and make them happy to use your servers even if the have a problem (is it your fault or the customer's fault doesn't matter a dime to them). Therefore, you must make sure that you setup the right team of persons for doing that. Doing this yourself, and specially live support, may be a wrong idea if you are not used to handle stress and anger as no matter how good or how well you get things done, there will be unhappy people complaining.

You may not need (and perhaps cannot afford) 10 people to handle customers requests before you have thousands of them but one single person cannot handle both first and second level support for more than a few dozens of people. I would suggest to have a minimum of two people, one for first level and one for 2nd & 3rd. I think that with 4 first level support persons and one for 2nd/3rd level should be enough to handle about a thousand customers but that also depends on the target audience and on the price of live support. If someone has real examples in an existing GSP company to share with us, it would be very nice.

Live Support
You can provide live support over voice (Skype, TeamSpeak, Mumble) or chat systems (IRC, MSN, Yahoo) and it may satisfy your customers at the begining, when you only have a few. Managing an IRC conversation where too many people connect can be hard and losses on skype could be very annoying to both you and the user. Additionally, you will get way too much demand as your customers number increase and you would not be able to gain any profit. Still, providing free support could be a good marketing move but not such a good move in terms of rentability.

Paid Support
The paid support is also an option that most providers (not only GSP) uses. I am pretty sure than some of them are even paying the bills with paid support incomes as they may provide poor service to get more support calls. This should definitively not be in your mind but paid support can partially increase your income if you manage it well. The most common way of phone support is trough overtaxed phone servers where you get a certain percentage of it (service dependant). Another good way to provide paid support is to charge for subsciptions (let's say per X hours per month or per week) and to provide support over free VoIP services as described above. Even if you may get paid more dong that depending on your country and the percent you get from overtaxed lines, it will seem less professional to the customers but could also cost them less (which often leads them to forget about any other concerns).

Web Support
The most easy and costless way to provide support is through the use of forums, wikis and FAQs but altrough they dont cost as much as "live" solutions, don't think that your forums and wiki will get filled all alone by your customers. Again, I don't mean to be pessimist but half of them don't know and the other half dont care or is to lazy to post answers. So you will have to read and write alot to maintain, respond, and run your web support platforms. Having moderators to make it all work in joy and happiness is a good idea altrought that could be managed partially by the support team. There are dozens of forum, wiki, faq modules available out there so again, comments and suggestions are welcome altrough here it will definitely be up to you to chose those tools that best suit your needs or even to develop your own (if you like reinventing the wheel).

In conclusion, you should not provide only one of the services described here but a wise combination of these depending on your audience, your country, your competitors and of course your knowledge and your team. Finally, no matter if you are offering free or paid live support, you must consider using a ticket system and eventually porvide customers access to it. It will also greatly contribute to and allow you to continually improve the web support database.
I would say dont do paid support, that would turn people away quickly
realchamp Wrote:
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kayoko support system.. nuff said. Supports live chat as well.. don't have to worry about multiple applications. also includes knowledgebase. Live support can be a pain when starting out though. Sometimes support can come in massive waives, and be very overwhelming at times.

agreed with spartanfrog, paid support would be a bad idea though.

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