Why is technical support over email and/or communities and not the phone?
With email and our communities, we have “canned responses” covering over 80% of the questions we receive. We will use those and customize them to each user’s specific question to make replies with the correct information quicker. Other questions are handled the old fashioned way with fully custom responses. We have our phone lines available in terms of pre-sales and order changes as these are usually time-sensitive items (specifically order changes).
Email and Communities
We encourage people to use our email support (on products that have them) and our communities (on all products) for this reason. When it comes to our communities, many awesome people really enjoy helping out other users, and our technical support staff is in them as well. The great thing about the communities (even over our direct email support) is that the more questions are asked, it builds up a repository of solutions that help everyone out. Our Discord (Facebook Group to some degree) can all be searched quickly to see if there is already the same question being asked most of the time. When there is a question that hasn’t been asked, it will receive a solution and reply, which builds upon the knowledge that is out there. This is great for supporting our products and great in general for the 3D printing community as not just product questions are asked and responded to.
Community Support Products
Many of our products come with what is called “Community Support.” This is on part type items that are usually self-explanatory in terms of usage and installation or products that are for people that are more technically inclined. We try our best to provide excellent documentation in terms of guides and/or videos for our products that may need additional guidance on usage and installation. Many of our documentation guides are used by customers and people in the 3D printing community in general. Our communities’ goal is to have an ever-expanding repository of information for everyone to use, customer or not. We firmly believe in making sure we are doing good for our customers and the community.
Pitfalls of Phone Support
When we offered phone support, people used this for every little question that could be answered 95+% of the time if they looked at the knowledge base, forum, and/or what we have canned replies for. Each call would take about 30 minutes, and the technician taking that call could not do anything else during that time. We have thousands of customers a month, and having full phone support would require a massive amount of higher-paid people, which would push our product costs up dramatically and grind everything to a halt here. When doing technical support, we usually need pictures, configuration files, and other digital items sent to us, which cannot be done over the phone or that we have customers all over the world. Due to time zone differences, we would not be able to provide adequate support hour coverage to all of the customers in severely differing time zones.
TH3D is a small company. Not many people realize this, but we typically only have about 10 people on our staff here. Only a fraction of them are actually customer-facing (meaning they email, phone, etc., directly to customers). Because we are a US company hiring people costs a lot in terms of pay and other overhead that comes with having someone on payroll. Our other staff members are the ones working tirelessly in the shop to make sure products are sent out in working order and shipping your orders to you in a timely manner. Since we are so small, all of our team members’ time is extremely valuable. Being able to allocate where everyone spends their time is one of the few things that we can do to make sure things are addressed correctly and in a timely manner.
This does not mean that we are hiding from anyone or unwilling to help. It just means that the format of email and community communications are very efficient, whereas phone support is not. Many companies (like Amazon specifically) hire huge call centers with people that have no idea what 3D printers are. They simply follow a script given to them by the manufacturer and try to follow that. Here at TH3D, we have people that actually use, modify, and upgrade 3D printers. We are all intimately familiar with the machines and the issues that come up with them. Having people that are passionate about 3D printing working for us to help our customers is crucial to making sure that our customers are helped out correctly and efficiently.