Why does aMember make it so difficult to get support?

Discussion in 'aMember Pro v.4' started by homer, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. miso

    miso aMember Pro Customer

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    Just clear the cookies for amember.com site and try again. It's an issue with your cookies, that's all. I know because I use a "Forget Me" extension in Chrome (one click of a button clears the cookies on the site being browsed) to take care of that on this site when it happens.

    As far as the support goes, they are usually very efficient in responding with the solution, assuming you provide them with all the relevant info and details of your problem so they don't have to do any guesswork, and only on a rare occasion it feels like the person just responded for the sake of responding (a one liner) instead of reading more about the whole issue and trying to come up with a solution (and then the back and forth might end up taking a week or two until you've explained everything you need to explain and the other person has caught up)....

    But it's really annoying lately that it takes 3-4 days to get a response - Alex, how is the hiring going? You gotta have people solving these issues constantly (maybe even increase the cost of continued support if you need to pay for them - I'd definitely pay), as the customers don't care if your guys are on holidays, vacation, sick, kidnapped, dead, whatever... the harsh reality is that people don't care - they just need their issues looked at and taken care of or get their questions answered as soon as possible.
  2. shotoshi

    shotoshi Member

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    Nov 28, 2008
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    @miso - thanks for the cookies tip! Hadn't thought of that, though the problem I described above seems to be unique to AM and not the myriad of other sites I'm signed up to.

    At this time of year you have to be patient, as I'm willing to be. I 'care', but I also understand the need for people's issues to be resolved quickly, especially paying customers (which I am not at this stage).

    Anyway, I've since had a positive reply from Alex about my project, so I will be working to provide him as many details as possible in order to make the customisation happen smoothly.
  3. alex

    alex Administrator Staff Member

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    I am sorry for all the delays this week. One very important and professional member of our team went to hospital, several others are on vacations because, well, it is Summer time. So all our team is working 16/7 to resolve existing tickets, but unfortunately with no much success. I am sorry for all delays and I hope we get everything figured out after the weekend.

    We will also look at forum login issue once we get all the client's problems resolved. I've not heard about this earlier.
  4. miso

    miso aMember Pro Customer

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    Alex, just a suggestion - why not have a premier support of some sort? two or three levels, maybe? one is for free (to non-customers, potential customers, new inquiries about amember), next one is the current one you have (default for all customers) that gets in a regular priority queue and gets answered within 48 hours, and then there is the premier one that customers can sign up for (and pay more) and those questions get answered within 4-6 hours or something?

    Sure, the main question is whether your guys can sustain something like that, but it would alleviate a lot of issues that you've had in the past (select few customers flooding your support queue with questions and requests and taking up most of your time, not giving you enough time to work on others' issues)...

    Got a few more suggestions as far as overall user experience goes, so hit me up on Skype when you get a chance. Just things I've noticed from clients that you might wanna improve on...
  5. ak48avk

    ak48avk Angela Kane

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    That sounds like a good idea Miso but putting potential customers at the bottom of the pile is not good for generating new business in my experience.

    It's a difficult call. I think the team does a great job generally and Alex has been noble in admitting that they have had a rough week.

    I think we all value the fact that amember is terrific value for money.
  6. miso

    miso aMember Pro Customer

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    no, it's not, but it might be a necessary trade-off, as keeping the customers who committed to amember as a solution for their business happy is equally, if not more important, in my mind.

    one thing is if someone has questions about the software, is evaluating a bunch of potential solutions, isn't sure whether this or that will work in his case and has quite a bit of time on his hands to collect all that data.

    it's a whole different ballgame when someone has already committed to that same solution, implemented it and ported their whole userbase into it only to run into a showstopper issue that is preventing him from using the software the way he intended it to, or ruining his business slowly as the issue might happen on a live site with thousands of visitors being lost every hour... that to me is way more critical than simple inquiries into "can I do this with amember? does amember support that?"
  7. everbatim

    everbatim aMember Pro Customer

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    I'm really glad to see I'm not the only one having support issues here. I've gotten nearly no help on the forums and have a support ticket in that's 6 days old now with NO responses. I have multiple aMember powered sites which generate quite a bit of income, and IF there were a priority support package I would definitely subscribe to it for each of my licenses. aMember version 4 is really incredible, and I love the software, however I can't begin using it properly because payment plugins and so forth haven't been brought over from version 3. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

    I hate the prospect of having to find another piece of software to replace aMember with, but I think I am pretty much to that point. To me aMember is worth 10 times what I pay for it, and I would gladly pay that increased fee IF I could actually count on good support and so forth. Hell I've even offered to PAY people for some plugin help with ZERO responses, so it seems no one is willing to do custom work in the forums either.

    I really hope everything gets back to what it was before, and soon. If I can't continue to upgrade my sites and add new features I won't last long against my competition.
  8. goexcel

    goexcel aMember Pro Customer

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    I totally agree with Miso, there should be a premium level of support available and I would take advantage of it. The different support options for software purchases is not atypical - in fact, take a look at VBulletin - you can purchase the software only, or opt for additional support at an additional cost.

    If Alex/Amember cannot provide the support required due to selling a software for under $200, then there is something wrong with that model.

    I also have to agree with the comments about the "single line" replies. How infuriating is that!!?? When you have membership site pulling in 6 figures per year, you expect and need top notch support. Some of may ask, "Why don't you hire top-notch consultants". I have and even they, at times, need to reach out to Amember staff since the documentation is SO LACKING!

    My 2 cents.
    flyinjs likes this.
  9. flyinjs

    flyinjs New Member

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    I have already paid for Amember 4 upgrade, and a plug in for an alternate payment processor. I can't get Alex or the crew to finish this and I have been waiting for several weeks! My site can not process orders and I have been an active member since 2006 this is the worst support I have seen in years. When you are totally depending on Alex and crew even after you pay you should have top priority to get your work finished.

    Sorry for the rant but I am very frustrated.
  10. spicyniknaks

    spicyniknaks New Member

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    I understand the situation that the aMember guys are in. I am also a software developer and program, sell and support my own software and it is hard at times, especially when you release a new product.

    Unfortunately, I think the guys created a rod for their own back by releasing V4 when they did. The software is excellent, but it has so many complex features that it would be hard not to have any bugs. I think if they had done some more testing before release they could have saved themselves a lot of pain.

    I think they should focus on stabilizing the product as it is now and not add any more features until they get to the bottom of the issues they currently have. Adding new features just creates more bugs and more bugs means more support.

    I find that one of the biggest costs to my type of business is providing the support and the more complex the product the more support you need to provide. For a system this complex there should be a premium support service available or maybe aMember could look at appointing third parties as "Authorized" to provide paid support to aMember customers. I'm sure there are lots of aMember customers who are also developers and could provide paid support services for some of the more complex issues which would lighten the load on the aMember team.

    I also agree with the sentiment that better documentation will reduce the load on the helpdesk and reduce frustration. I think the aMember guys should delegate the process of providing product documentation to someone in the aMember community who they know is experienced enough with the software and has the skills to create good documentation and video tutorials.
  11. benfitts

    benfitts aMember Pro Customer

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    Apr 10, 2008
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    I feel some of the issues are language based.

    Why doesn't aMember bring someone in to just sit with them and write documentation for a week. Even if they aren't comfortable writing in English they can bring in someone to write for them. Documenting aMember4 better would greatly help alleviate customer service issues.

    Also why doesn't aMember hire a customer support person to work extra hours. I'm in North American and we know that there is a big time difference... but we also hear from UK clients that the time delay for them in waiting on CGI Central to respond to support tickets means they are waiting a full day.
  12. miso

    miso aMember Pro Customer

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    well, I know it's an issue with privacy and access to sensitive customer data when it comes to bringing on more people into the support crew, so Alex can't just bring in anyone... but the issue still remains that a lot of people end up waiting for the solution to their problems and most of it stems from inadequate support team, nothing else.

    when I say inadequate I don't mean dumb or anything, but insufficient man power on one side and insufficient in providing answers on the other side. hence why I provided the suggestion to split the support queue into 3 levels:

    1) FREE (for inquiries from potential clients only) - this could be answered by anyone, and they don't even have to be that technical (so you can easily get a new person with very little dev experience and knowledge of the system in terms of code to handle these, as he will learn a lot about the system as he goes along answering questions). So for this queue you could really have two people (one on each side of the world) answering questions for a few hours here and there, in different timezones just logging in for 2-3 hours (part time) and answering the questions at different times of the day (as they will get through this queue rather quickly). And what they cannot answer (if the questions are too technical) they pass onto the devs more qualified to answer them.

    2) PAID (for paid clients, whoever buys aMember, renewable every 6-12 months, some basic cost like what you have right now) - this should be answered by a dev who knows the system, obviously. And you could do it with local devs, on Russian time, as it would be accepted that requests sent into this queue will take 24 hours to be answered.

    3) PREMIUM (obviously a pricier option than #2, enough to make it worth your while) - this queue should have multiple devs, covering the busiest timezones (North American, European), and these issues should be top priority on the list, obviously.

    The extra $$ from Premium support will obviously allow Alex to hire a few more people without seeing a dip in the profits. And I'm sure the end users will see it as a more welcome addition.

    Another major issue that would need to be addressed is the lack of details in responses sometimes - as I mentioned, when they are rushing through tickets they get responded with one liners or without all the details included sometimes. Alex would have to make sure everyone on the support team gets a little "training" in terms of what are acceptable or expected responses. I am not saying they are doing a bad job, but I am saying they could be doing it a lot better too. Plus the more detailed responses they send out the first time around will cut down on the questions posed back to those responses and # of tickets received - if you can answer a client inquiry or resolve his issue in a single response and give him multiple options or solutions to consider, he might not come back with more questions, thus you don't have to deal with him again. But if you answer with a one liner, he'll come back asking more questions, looking for more details, clarification, and ultimately get frustrated with you because it's taking him a week to get his questions answered.

    Also, another thing I've noticed is when devs fix some of the issues on the client's sites they rarely include which files have been changed, so the client can easily overwrite those files later, and there is no record of what customizations have been done (in terms of files changed only). If there was a way to keep track of that in support tickets, that would be quite a valuable addition, as that way when customers are looking to upgrade, for example, they have a record of files changed for each ticket they submitted and they know which files they need to back up, pay more attention to, etc (especially helpful for us developers who are working on client sites too). So if you could add something like that in the support system and have the tech guys keep on top of it all and use it as designed, it would be nice to have.

    Alex, also don't be afraid to charge extra for non-standard support requests - when clients ask how they can do this or that which really is way out of scope of aMember (like bring their existing system into aMember) and if it's something that requires a lot of custom work, instead of your tech guys responding with "that can't be done" or "here's what you should do" in only a few lines that might not make much sense to a non-technical client, have them resort to attaching a quote for that custom job and tell the clients how much it will cost to have it done by you guys. Most of the time the clients will gladly pay extra just to get things taken care of. And this extra $$ will definitely help you cover the extra devs you'll need to hire, along with probably increasing the profits too along the way.

    There might be a few more little things here and there that might be improved, but these are the major issues I've seen so far.

    And that advice above is free of charge. :)
  13. goexcel

    goexcel aMember Pro Customer

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    I have to agree with Ben's comments regarding the language issue. Not to pile on here, but the one line replies which require a follow-up is just crap support. Other times, the support is top-notch.

    Regarding the documentation, again, Ben's suggestion is good. Sit down for 1 week and get it done. Or better yet, create some videos - GEES - screencasting is like 20th century technology. As a bonus, you put some of the Amember videos on YouTube which gets more views, which equates to more interest in the product.

    If the lack of videos are due to a language problem, getting the videos transcribed is not an issue. I get can get 1 hour of video transcribed for $24 dollars. Then the transcriptions become the written documentation.

    Case in point regarding lack of documentation: Apparently there is support for S3 - how that works, nobody knows. Certainly can't read about it.

    The support for UK and American customers is a good point too. Who likes to wait until next day due to a critical support issue. Heck, I'm working with 2 different consultants based in India who work EST hours since that is where most of their clients are based -in the US. Just saying ;-)
  14. homer

    homer New Member

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    When I started this thread, I didn't expect there'd be so many replies on the support issue and so many people unhappy with it.

    Since then I've realised the support is not that bad. Alex does try to help.

    But one thing that is still diabolical is that it seems aMember doesn't take feedback and use it to improve.

    I made numerous complaints in the OP several months ago (and via email) about confusing choice of words, badly presented screens, misleading directions etc. I've given specific instances and explained how they could be improved. What has aMember done about them?

    Others here have complained about language issues. I don't sympathise. It's easy enough to hire a native speaker if English isn't the developer's mothertongue. It's not just the language issue, it's understanding that what makes perfect sense to the owner/developer may not make sense to the end user.

    I gave up using aMember months ago.

    Now I'm getting automated emails about my licence saying there's a problem and I should contact cgi-central. Who the hell is CGI-Central? (Why not just say I should contact aMember? Or even provide a link? What's so hard about adding a link in there? After so many months of non-use, I'm still expected to remember that CGI-Central has something to do with aMember?!)

    Today I've tried logging into these forums and have the exact same problem I had on day one: Nothing happens when I click the login button. I had to fire up a different browser just to log in to make this post. In other words, this problem from day one hasn't been sorted yet!
  15. alex

    alex Administrator Staff Member

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    We have hired a developer from USA, he has fixed a lot of text messages in the script, and it will be included into next release.

    Regarding forum login, I thought we have this problem resolved, at least I have no heard about it anymore. We will check it tomorrow for sure.
  16. homer

    homer New Member

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    You have been, as usual, very quick to respond to my support emails, Alex. So, thanks for that.
  17. jorkins

    jorkins New Member

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    May 3, 2008
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    it is obvious other people are having concerns with V4. What I think Alex and his team need to do is vastly improve the support documents, training guides and user documentation, which is terrible.

    Of course, we did not experience the support delays but like the others I don't think V4 is working as expected. There are also issues with the product as a whole with its missing public page editing, and other things, indicating that you are more interested in aMember as a plugin for other products like Wordpress, than you are in using it as a standalone product. I think this is the wrong emphasis, as you get major performance issues when you start combining systems in this way.

    Richard
    leelbog1 likes this.

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