Macoun 2017

Want to meet us? You’ll find us this weekend at Macoun in Frankfurt, Germany. It is the largest iOS & macOS developer conference in Europe.

Forums II

Wouldn’t it be great when users could help each other in a forum you host on your site?

Maybe in a perfect world. But in a such a world your product would not need to be supported anyway.

Sooner or later this will go wrong. You can get spammed by bots or unhappy customers will try to find relief in angry posts. Also duplicates of the same questions need to be merged manually.

You will probably end up in more work instead of less.


About 1.5 years ago we decided to completely rebuild Replies for Mac from the ground up as web application. We loved Replies for Mac but we wanted to go beyond what was possible with a standalone desktop application.

“Eating our own dogfood”, we started using it to support our own products (Mailplane, GrandTotal, Timings and CheatSheet) from the very beginning. End of 2016 we invited friends and beta testers for giving it a try.

Their response and our own experience with Replies gave us the confidence to release it officially today.

Why did we build Replies?

It was back in 2009, when Ruben was getting overwhelmed with the support load from Mailplane. He then built Replies for Mac to keep his team small and continue to stay connected with his customers.

We believe in direct communication between customers and the people who work on products or provide services. That’s why we automate as much as possible and make it most efficient to use.

Interested to give it a try? You can use it 30 days for free. Let us know what you think!

Forums I

Limit your support activities to your own product page. Reacting to user comments on foreign platforms can turn into a burden once your audience gets the impression they can reach out for you anywhere on the internet.

It’s hard to keep track of all possible sources and you risk that you get accused of bad support when you miss a post by accident.

Do yourself and your clients a favor and try to keep it as simple as possible: One centralized support page.

Do support on weekends

Answering mails on a weekend is a good thing - unless you send the mails.

If you feel like it, it’s no problem to get your inbox cleaned on a weekend because there is nothing more liberating than facing an empty inbox on a monday morning. You just need to schedule the answers to be sent on the next work day earliest.

Nobody expects to get an answer between Friday 5pm and Monday 9am and you should not break with this convention.

Whilst it may look nice to your customer, it won’t feel that professional. Someone might get the impression that your product is a pet project of yours and you are tinkering it in your spare time. Even if this is your hobby - wait until Monday.

Déjà vu

Getting the same questions often can have various reasons.

Maybe all those customers are holding it wrong, or more likely: Your product just has a serious shortcoming. Probably it’s just a tiny thing that can be corrected in the next revision or by adding another line to the getting started page.

Answering it over and over again is just a temporary solution until the problem is fixed. Ending up by putting this on your FAQ equates more or less to a capitulation. Always try a bit harder to make questions not come up at all.

Do not hire support staff

In small companies support should be done by people responsible for the corresponding product.

A random support person located in a country with low costs may look tempting at the first sight. But at the end the easy repetitive answers are handled by a person who is often not that familiar with the product and the hard ones still need to be reviewed by the next level.

It’s even worse. Your support employee is probably making a living on the shortcomings of your product. There is not a lot of benefit in improving it or make it better.

If you let for instance do a programmer do the support for the software she/he created, this looks different. Because programmers are lazy and problems can be solved with code they would rather improve the product, instead of just answering the same question over and over again.

Support is marketing

Support is one of the best marketing strategies around.

You should see your customers as ambassadors. Most people tend to recommend things they had good experience with. No matter if this are cool spots for spending a weekend, great wine, time saving software or anything else.

If one of your customers who has a problem or a question is contacting you for help this is a perfect opportunity to shine. Much better than annoying random people with marketing mails or cold calls.

Offering a helping and timely response will often remind your customer how great and useful your product is. Which can lead to the one or other recommendation. As we all know: Word of mouth is the best marketing.