Not providing customer support for free versions of your applications “is ass-backwards,” according to Get Satisfaction founder and chief technology officer Thor Muller, who gave a presentation titled, appropriately enough, “Business Freemium Customer Satisfaction” at Freemium Summit East in New York Monday.
“Free users won’t convert or tell others if they can’t get past first wall,” Muller said, adding, “Support needs to be embedded in the product. It actually needs to be a consideration in product development. Freemium only works if customers are delighted.”
According to Muller, most application providers follow the support strategy of starting out ad hoc, followed by implementing a help desk, forums, and social support (social engagement, communities of interest, word of mouth).
He added that Mint.com took its support model public and not only dropped weekly support tickets from 6,500 to 1,500, but picked up more than 50,000 ideas on how to improve its products. Yola, meanwhile, created a customer community and placed it front and center, which was good, but the company actually responded too quickly at first and wasn’t giving customers the ability to respond to each other.
“Is it worth supporting free customers?” Muller asked. “If it isn’t worth it and you don’t make a change, then you end up creating a customer slum.”