I’ve you’ve launched an app or are planning to do so, a very important aspect that should not neglected is support. Good support is critical to a successful app. A problem experienced by a user, but solved by a really good support experience could even lead to a fan. A bad support experience would likely leave you with one less user.

Any number of things could go wrong, and it’s important to have a support process and/or team in place to handle any problems. Typically problems would be in one of three categories:

  • User training – i.e. a user doesn’t know or can’t figure out how something works
  • A system issue – where there’s a bug or problem of some sort preventing a user from doing something
  • Feature request – this is when the app does not provide for something the user is trying to do. Often mistaken for user training where it can be done, but perhaps with a different approach.

Support Channels

First off, you need to provide a way for users to get support when they need it. What channels you provide can vary, but could include one or more of the following (there are probably many other channels you could use too):

  • Self-service knowledge base / support articles and how-to documents
  • Email support
  • Social channel(s) – e.g. via Twitter or a Facebook page
  • Instant chat – could be delivered through Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or any number of other chat providers
  • Telephone support
  • In-App messaging or contact form (which would likely lead to one of the other channels)

Which channels you provide is mostly up to you and what you can actually support, but it’s important to keep in mind who your users are, how they use the app, and which channels are most suitable.

First-Tier vs Second-Tier Support

When we look at the types of issues mentioned earlier in the article, 2 of the 3 common types of queries could be typically considered first-tier support. This means that you could service these with lower level or less technical support agents who are knowledgable on how the app works and what features are available. These types of queries are often well handled by self-service help articles too. A lot of users are quite happy to read through articles rather than contact support, provided the information is well laid-out and easy to find. Therefore it’s usually a great idea to provide this type of information, as it can drastically reduce the load on your support staff.

Second-tier support is for when you need someone technical involved. Usually this is when a bug has been found, or there’s some sort of system problem. Often this would be the development team. If you’ve outsourced the app development to start with (or you’re planning to do so), it may be worth your while to check what support is available from your developer after launch. At GEM we provide second-tier support for our clients via our App Support plans, and it’s something you should ask about when looking for a development company. It’s quite a common scenario to handle the first-tier support in-house, but let an outsourced dev team handle second-tier support. Just make sure the turnaround times and responsiveness is at the level you need to keep your users happy.

Any Recommendations?

There are many great systems out there that provide great support channels. If you’re just getting started, a great option is Freshdesk. Their plans start with a free tier which is great, and they do offer a number of channels, like email, phone, Facebook and Twitter. Another great option is Intercom which provides in-app chat and a number of other great features.

Other options include setting up an FAQ’s or help articles section on your website (really easy to do if you’ve already got a WordPress site) or simply enabling a contact form and/or providing a support email address and phone number.

Chat to us if you need any help with second-tier support, as this is something we’ve done for many years and is part of our core offering.


About Stephen Fourie

I've been a professional software developer since 2004, and running GEM since 2010. I've developed software for many different industries including automotive, logistics, finance and entertainment. I'm the GM at GEM Custom Apps where we build custom web and mobile apps for businesses.I love my wife, my dog, cars and gadgets. And coffee! I'm an Ironman 70.3 finisher, beginner skateboarder, xbox gamer and digital nomad :)