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Author Topic: Are there more support requests than they can possibly handle ?  (Read 2573 times)

Ancient_Audiophile

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Are there more support requests than they can possibly handle ?
« on: November 30, 2012, 03:55:48 pm »

Are there more support requests than the JRiver employees can possibly handle, even with volunteer user assistance to answer the easy and obvious ones ?

I deliberately posted this away from the "business" area of the site, because I am trying to be sensitive to the needs of a small group of people trying to make a living out of the software business - especially since that is exactly what I do (in an unrelated area).
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Matt

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Re: Are there more support requests than they can possibly handle ?
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2012, 04:31:40 pm »

If you're asking if there are more of you than there are of us, the answer is "yes."

If you're saying you don't feel like you're getting help, a better approach would be to bump your thread and provide more information.

The person that posts the most on Interact is Jim.  He founded the company 30+ years ago.  I'm probably second, and I'm CTO.

This is the opposite of how support is done most places.  Right or wrong, we like it and it's not going to change anytime soon.
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Matt Ashland, JRiver Media Center

Ancient_Audiophile

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Re: Are there more support requests than they can possibly handle ?
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2012, 06:41:39 pm »

I'm not asking for a change.

It just looks to me that, as you successfully add more and more features to MC, there are also more areas where users of those new features have specific requirements, and there are more areas where they can encounter problems (regardless of whether it is user error or a bug).

I've been amazed by how fast new threads are created - it seems more than a crew of 5 or 6 can even read, let alone code changes...
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Ancient_Audiophile

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Re: Are there more support requests than they can possibly handle ?
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2012, 02:07:40 pm »

Perhaps I need to keep a tab on the number of old threads that I've read that end with a question, rather than an answer.

I obviously know very little about the company and its history, but I would hazard a guess that if there was one full-time customer support person who was the moderator and admin of the Forum, and whose job was simply to make sure that every question was answered in some way, the increased revenue would more than pay that person's salary/benefits.   But that's just a guess.

When I look at feedback on ebay or on Amazon Marketplace, I'm always struck by the difference between stores that have 1% negative feedback that says stuff like "arrived damaged", and other stores that have 1% negative feedback, and all the negative feedback is answered by someone saying "If you would have contacted us, we would have been happy to refund your money."  Potential customers are always more likely to purchase from the latter.

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JimH

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Re: Are there more support requests than they can possibly handle ?
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2012, 04:02:59 pm »

I wrote this about 5 years ago, but it's still relevant:  "Is this support?"

I was thinking of you when I wrote it.
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Ancient_Audiophile

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Re: Are there more support requests than they can possibly handle ?
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2012, 01:27:39 pm »

Actually I have read that before, and read it again after you posted that.

Again, it is a quantity issue.   The more features, and the more users, the more various options they will need for their own specific needs.

And then human nature enters the equation.

For example, there is one free audio player that would work pretty well for me, except that it doesn't work for my DAC.  I managed to get the top developer of the player to respond to the request for support, and included in my request was a direct quote from the circuit designer of the DAC, a top electrical engineer, that his DAC needed a smaller buffer.

The response from the developer (who has been working on this player for many years) was akin to Gollum (fingers in ears "I'm not listening, I'm not listening"), he just insisted that a bigger buffer was better for everything in a player, ignoring the quote from the DAC designer.

By the way, Media Center works fine with that DAC.

So, I tried another highly recommended free audio player, a one man development effort.   He gladly modified it to allow a smaller buffer, it worked with my DAC, and that was good.

However, I also need a GUI feature for the player to meet my needs, and the response this time from the developer was simply " I don't wanna bother with that. "   This is certainly reasonable, he volunteers his time developing a free product, so one cannot expect him to meet everyone's needs.

I then asked a friend of mine, who I knew had the same needs that I did - in terms of playing music on his PC - and he mentioned that Media Center already had that GUI feature.   He is right, it does, and that is why I am here.

----

So, getting back to Media Center support, you also can't possibly respond to every possible request by every user, by making a code change.   Looking at the Forum, even responding with a post seems beyond the amount of time available.   We all only have a limited number of hours every day, it's understandable.

I think that part of the problem lies with what other software companies are doing.

As mentioned, there are free programs, and since they are free, users have no rights - it's take it or leave it.  Then, some software companies offer paid support for the otherwise free product.  Of course, Red Hat is the most famous example of this, but many tiny software companies do likewise.

I think due to that model, when people see both free media players and paid media players, they expect that the difference is support.   But in the case of Media Center, that doesn't seem to be your model - the support is roughly equivalent to the free players ( i.e. enthusiastic help from fans in Forums, and some feedback from the developers ).   It seems that what the user is getting for their purchase of Media Center is the better product that comes from a staff of full-time developers (as opposed to a hodge-podge of part-time volunteers).

But again, that is not what users are expecting for their payment, due to the example of Red Hat and others.

----

So, to be positive, one suggestion might be to add a Premium Support option.  For an additional monthly or yearly fee, users would get access to an additional sub-Forum that would be otherwise hidden from the public, and then requests in that Premium Support forum would be prioritized. (Most forum software has this capability, in order to allow Moderators to have a hidden forum where they can privately discuss what action to take about contentious posts.)
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JimH

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Re: Are there more support requests than they can possibly handle ?
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2012, 01:39:41 pm »

Thanks for all the ideas, but we actually like the way things work now.  It's not perfect, but it seems to work for most people.

Quote
Looking at the Forum, even responding with a post seems beyond the amount of time available.

Here's the count for JRiver people:

JimH      33732
Matt      24718
JimH      7604  (my old account)
Yaobing     4475
JohnT        2783
Bob           2588

http://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index.php?action=stats
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Ancient_Audiophile

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Re: Are there more support requests than they can possibly handle ?
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2012, 03:46:56 pm »

( Concerning the number of posts per person - that's not the issue, it's the number of threads that end with a question, with no further post.  You could add two zeros to the number of posts made by staff members, and it would still be irrelevant if there are unanswered questions.)

Ultimately, you need to use whatever method works best for you.

Having said that, I have to say that, when I saw:

Quote
Thanks for all the ideas, but we actually like the way things work now.

is almost word for word, the answer that I always see to most suggestions made on the Internet.

Why ?   Because we are hard wired to feel that way.   Here is the classic example which illustrates it:

A few years ago, two neighboring states on the East Coast had referendums on no-fault insurance.   Both states' populations voted about 70 to 30 to keep auto insurance exactly the way it was.

But, one state had no-fault, and the other did not.   So, the two populations voted exactly the opposite on the issue of auto insurance, but they both voted exactly the same on the issue of "keeping everything exactly the way it is now".
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JimH

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Re: Are there more support requests than they can possibly handle ?
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2012, 03:52:00 pm »

OK.  We're sick.  I admit it.  You're obviously a better judge of what is The Right Stuff.
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DarkPenguin

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Re: Are there more support requests than they can possibly handle ?
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2012, 08:30:43 pm »

What are you looking for, exactly?
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Listener

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Re: Are there more support requests than they can possibly handle ?
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2012, 01:50:01 am »

OK.  We're sick.  I admit it.  You're obviously a better judge of what is The Right Stuff.

Must have been an accident that you've been in business for thirty years.

Bill
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MrHaugen

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Re: Are there more support requests than they can possibly handle ?
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2012, 07:51:32 am »

I do not understand the point of this thread. There's a LOT of experienced and knowledgeable people here, spending their time helping people. Most threads are answered, most questions are answered. There will be  certain subjects that is either to far fetched or specific that people either does not know how to answer, or the developers does not want to spend development time on because it affects too few people and the gain is simply to low.

This is a $50 product, that gives you 10 times the features that any competing application does. Free or not. Do you seriously expect to get super support and hand holding for those 50 bucks? In most cases you actually DO, but in some cases you'll just have to accept that it will not happen. People here do the best they can, and the developers have to focus on features they think will aim at many people. No just some. That is the business model for a lot of companies. Not only Media Center developers.

Forum support has it's strengths and weaknesses. I can not however agree to whatever that you are implying. This forum and it's users are most helpful. Almost all threads and questions are answered reasonably well. In my experience you'll get a long way if you just have some patience and ask the right questions.
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