ST Support Expectations


(Craig) #1

I’ve love to get some general thoughts from both STs staff and the community as a whole.

First let me say I was an early adopter of STs (pre-order by not kickstarter) and as a whole have loved it. I’ve recommended a handful of customers to start using STs all of which have been happy with their investment as well. With that said it seems like there has been a major shift in STs support and basic feeling towards customer interactions.

When STs first started it was all about the customer, keeping them happy, figuring it out, and getting it running! Now support has transitioned to a group of people that seem to just not care, there are exceptions like @Tyler who always is a ton of help, but for the most part I tend to get the same response to everything, one of the following two conversations:

First one:
Me: Hey This app has been running for weeks / months and it suddenly stopped working. I’ve reviewed XYZ and it appears that ABC has changed. Can you help me understand / review what has changed so I can get it resolved?
ST: This app / device wasn’t created by STs. I’m sorry but that means that it’s not supported and you’ll have to troubleshoot it yourself
Me: I understand that but it’s has been running for X amount of time without issue and suddenly it stopped working I fear that it might be something on the back end and not something I can resolve.
ST: Sorry, I can’t help, good luck!
Me: I guess I can’t do that on STs anymore. Glad I wasted money on X. Maybe one day they’ll formally support it or I’ll find some amazing person in the community that will help fix it!

Second, Conversation (and in my opinion far more frustrating)
Me: Hey XYZ doesn’t work.
ST: Everything seems fine, let me log a ticket
Me: Ok, any idea when you’ll get back to me?
ST: No
< INSERT some form of lots of conversations on boards, working with friends, talking to other support people >
ST: Oh, were sorry that’s a known issue.
Me: Cool that means you’re working on it?
ST: Yes
Me: Awesome!! Any idea of resolution time
ST: No
Me: Cool can I get an update
ST: When it’s fixed
< Insert days / weeks / months wait with no update >
Me: Hello anyone there???
Me: Hello!!! Yo anyone around?
< Insert dark hole>** OR < Insert me finding a fix on the community fourm fixed by STs weeks ago with no response back>**
Me: FML

Am I alone in this pit of despair that generates this hatred for all things not solvable without STs? My one request, I know it’s so incredibly unreasonable, but I really wish STs would make an attempt to meet my demands!

Can we just start setting some expectations and offer some transparency?

I can live with something being broken. I can completely empathize with product / bug priorities, I can even live with huge waits for resolutions if you are just up front with me and give me some updates along the way. (I might add Alex promised more transparency after CES)

This is all I want:

ST: It’s going to be 6 months before we fix that basic feature that was sold during both CES presentations and is documented all over the website that you used to help you make your decision to throw down several hundred dollars to buy the product!
Me: Oh that sucks… Ok thanks for he update!
ST (+ 1 week): Hey guys, it’s your friendly neighborhood STs employee. The powers to be have still deemed this a lower priority than all those really cool product features that you’re really going to like in the near future
Me: Cool… Thanks for the update!!
ST (+2 Weeks): Hey guys, me again, I haven’t had a chance to work on this yet but I still really like you and I want you to know we’re still an item, don’t give up on me.
Me: Awwwwww, I’m totally in like with you too!
< Insert updates at reasonable intervals >
ST (+25 weeks): I know I’ve written updates for the last 25 weeks with nothing to say but I got great news. I’m almost done. We’re entering QA this week… anyone want to be a BETA partner with us to get this thing QA’ed?
Me: Holy crap I’ve love too… Man you’re the best!

Moral of this rant - I really really really want to love you guys and sometimes you just make it hard to do that… work with us and we’ll cut you some slack.

Rant over!

@ben @alex @Tyler1 @krv @April


(Ron S) #2

I am sorry for your experience and am sure you may have valid reasons.

Mostly my ST tickets have gone towards people who have gone far beyond expectations to help me out in any way. Of course they cannot help me with the current ST state (mostly lab integrations) but their willingness, passion and reaching out to me has been exceptional. At least this is one area where I have never faced an issue. But for these ST guys like @tyler etc. and this community I would have long called it quits.

PS: on a lighter note, I am not sucking up to them. I DO want my hues and other stuff to work and will keep ranting. :wink:


(Craig) #3

@smart - I’m with you I love STs, I really do, this is less of a complaint as a come on guys tell us what’s going on so I don’t feel like you’re ignoring me!

On that note I know you are always complaining about your Hue. I’m still curious what doesn’t work for you? I have hues in multiple rooms that seem to turn off and on and change colors based on a few apps I wrote without issue. I have noticed that every once in awhile they are delayed but nothing major.

Also since I don’t tend to change colors that often I’ve been reviewing installing zwave plugs and just running non-zwave led strips (which are far longer and far cheaper) from that outlet.


(Joe) #4

I’ve had pretty good experience with them also. Maybe you just caught someone on a bad day.


(Ron S) #5

@craig: like turning on/off as as few as 3-4 hues at a time. :wink: and will leave the rest for my ranting thread elsewhere so as not to hijack this thread. :slight_smile: also keep in mind because of your “own” apps! Wish missus could write such apps. :wink:


(DanG) #6

I have work with support dozens of times over the past year and they have all been courteous and helpful even when I am venting my frustrations over the recent problems. I have even had support reaching back several weeks later asking how the performance has been. It is probably the best support I have seen from anyone. Now if they could just get the platform to remain stable for more than a week.


I don't understand the SmartThings/SmartApps ecosystem -- thoughts and feedback after several weeks
(Tyler) #7

@craig - Tyler from support here (not to be confused with community hero @tyler). Hate to see posts like this, but appreciate you laying it out and asking for our POV. Here are my thoughts:

tl;dr - We hear you, and I think we’re already taking some steps to alleviate your pain. I/we take this type of feedback to heart, and promise it’s not falling on deaf ears.

  1. I had a meeting yesterday with several founders and members of the executive team, and the meeting was focused on how we do a better job triaging more complex issues and setting expectations for response and resolution time. Everyone agrees we can (and will) do better in this area. Like you said, the answer sometimes might be “this isn’t on the development backlog for the next two months” but I’d rather tell you that up front rather than delivering the same message two weeks later. Also, it was a 7:30AM meeting. Ask my colleagues: I don’t do 7:30AM meetings :).

  2. Tactically, we’re deploying some new tools in the next few weeks that will make it easier for support to see when the root cause of an issue/bug has been fixed by the dev/product team. This should improve how we follow up on tickets like you’ve outlined. Honestly, those tools are more geared towards trending bugs/issues than things that are impact individual users (e.g. problem with a custom SmartApp code).

  3. All time support customer satisfaction is 98%. The last 60 days satisfaction is 98%. These metrics don’t always tell the full story, and passionate, power-user feedback like yours can be a leading indicator that things are trending the wrong way. Rest assured every member of support has been sent this post and is taking it to heart, present company included. That said, I’m really proud of the level of support we provide and stand by it 100%. Feedback like this is important to make sure we are continually improving.

  4. For more advanced questions like many of yours, the answer is usually crowdsourced amongst the entire support team, pulling in other groups when we get in over our heads. The team is constantly seeking out answers. Ask anyone in the SmartThings org and I’m confident they’ll tell you support is among the most passionate and vocal. Simply put, there’s not a lack of caring on the team—that I promise you.

Fun fact: looking at our company’s internal chat client, the support team chat room is the most active, with over 80,000 chats since we adopted it less than a year ago. Take out .gifs, and there’s still at least 50,000 messages in there.

While I know your summary in this thread isn’t a direct quote, it sounds like we can be doing a better job with the delivery of the message and follow-up when we don’t have a straightaway answer. For what it’s worth, any ticket where we write “we don’t know” is accompanied by sighs and sad faces on our end. I promise we do care.

Thanks again for the candid feedback—we’ll put it to good use.


Why is support closing tickets without resolution?
Customer Service (Delayed)
SmartThings Support Email and Chat Response Times
Sorry, but there was an unexpected error
(Keith Croshaw) #8

Where is this survey that these results are coming from? Honestly I know that the couple of support tickets that I’ve opened I understand that the support team has “done everything in their power,” which is usually followed by a “we’ll let the proper authorities know”, and then it’s gone in the wind.

I feel like the community has been more helpful than support team, and I’m aware that the community is bigger than the support team, there really needs to be an issue tracking system and a feature request tracking system with up/down votes for priority and SmartThings progress on each issue/request.

More of my two cents. I have been enjoying the platform lately though, thanks ST! :smiley:


(Tyler) #9

Survey responses via email.

Looking at your ticket history @keithcroshaw, you don’t throw us any soft balls :). There are definitely instances where the community is going to be a better resource than support. Our goal is to minimize how often that’s the case.

(Regarding your open ticket, someone should be in touch tomorrow morning.)


(Ben Edwards) #10

The community team is going to implement a system like this. We haven’t found one we love. Open to suggestions.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #11

Let me know, if you wish, what you didn’t like about UserVoice (it’s always the first that comes to mind…) and/or what your wishlist is…

I really enjoy comparison shopping and there are some very detailed reviews of products in this space!


(Eric) #12

We have liked Uservoice for other projects…zendesk was a flop and they are too slick for their own good failing on too many promises…we have used Freshdesk and had great success with support tickets, feature requests/status forums, knowledgebase, social monitoring, and paired with SnapEngage chat…across the country users have really liked it, and much better than Zendesk…even our help team swore at zendesk more than I thought humanly possible(but we had a really complex setup)

and would say that our support interactions with SmartThings have tended to be very friendly. They can’t always fix my issue but our interactions have been wholly reasonable.


(Keith Croshaw) #13

Oh, mobile presence has been a bit better for me, been in Boston in 3 feet of snow away from home so it’s hard to test. Again, I know you guys are doing pretty much all you can do. It’d just be nice to see:

Issue: mobile presence.
Action: internal discussion
Priority:XXX

Thanks @tyler1 and @Ben for chiming in.


(Craig) #14

@tyler1

I really appreciate your quick response to this thread. Although some of my concerns have been directly related to support itself I must say that I may unfairly be lumping overall ST customer support with actual technical support. As many people have discussed here priorities of issues / enhancements / etc. are often outside of “supports” control but they being the customer face of STs gets lumped into the aggregate “cause” of the issue. My overall intention was not to bash ST but to bring light to things that have been frustrating me and a number of my friends who have used STs. I hopefully lighten the mood with my poor attempt at comic relief throughout my post!

As @Ben discussed I can’t wait to see a method for users to start to review priority of enhancements, issues, vote for priority, etc.

With that I’d to make one huge suggestion. Support should start using the Community more. I’m not asking them to answer posts or search the threads but just create a new area where support can post updates to known issues. Then when a ticket is opened on an issue that is known or will have an extended fix timeline you can direct all customers to a single thread for those updates. This would help in 3 major ways (in my opinion):

  1. You have the means of updating all your customers at once very
    easily. I’m no longer asking support over and over again for
    updates or feeling my issue got lost (Customer Satisfaction goes
    up: win)
  2. Support overall work load decreases because instead of updating 25
    customers on a single issue (or no updating them) you put ownership
    on the customer to update themselves (as long as support is keeping
    up with the threads with their internal updates). (Ticket volume
    decreases, Updates decrease, Cost decreases; WINNING!)
  3. One of the best things about STs is the amazing community. I’m
    willing to bet that the community would start assisting in resolving
    / troubleshooting issues. Could you imagine if the community,
    through an official capacity, actually started assisting in
    supporting / maintaining STs free of charge? That’s almost unheard
    of but I’ll bet money it would happen!

(Keith Croshaw) #15

I second a list of known issues that users can see that the issue is still open and here is the progress without bugging ST.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #16

Great suggestion, Keith!

I would add something along these lines:
Type: (bug / feature)
and if fix in progress
Planned Release: (release number or date)
Resolution: (duplicate, released, deprecated, dropped)
Released: (release number and ate)

NB: Popular “issue / bug / knowledge base” tracking systems will also have a similar list of fields more or less. Hence it would be handy to choose one, as per @Ben’s search.


(Ben Edwards) #17

This is part of the issue. Zendesk is what our support team uses and we have it fairly well integrated into a lot of systems. I would really love a system that either played well with Zendesk or Discourse or something else we use currently. We are doing this, just need to do it right.


(ctindel) #18

There is no great answer but jira is what everybody else uses for managing community requests.


(Mark S Groves-Zen Studios) #19

Hi Ben,

I would like to see SmartThings move to a cloud based support system. IMHO, the system should:
Allow Access via browser or UI
Allow Customers/Community to view the status of support requests
Allow Customers to amend their support requests
Allow Community input
Support Enhancement Requests
Support robust keyword tags. Tags associate duplicates requests and eliminate the need to categorize and sub-categorize issues that involve multiple areas.
Support Master Issues - Master issues facilitate global progress on related requests and support issues.
As I see it, community access to support makes sense as you have already discovered that success has forced your business model to evolve and leveraging the community has increased device support without a counter balance for support or expense. Supports two primary roles have to be customer satisfaction and walking on razor blades supporting non SmartThings developed issues. You cannot operate without a means to address community issues and expect it not to eventually devastate both your reputation and your sales growth. Support has to provide positive outcomes for community related issues not developed by SmartThings. It has to! It is an inevitable outcome to your business model. Logically the community has the expertise to provide answers to community developed code. Most of the issues I experience are community based or related to external device manufacturers products.

I would also like to talk to you about Beta Testing Hub 2.0, etc.


(Craig) #20

@tyler1:

This is a great example of what I’m referring to. Yes this is an enhancement but as best as I can tell (from what communication that I’ve had with STs) this code has been submitted 6+ weeks ago. The last update (over 2 weeks ago) from @ben says “we are QA’ing” but no updates, no timeline, no expectation setting (despite me asking multiple times). I’ve reached out to support early on about this and they informed me this is a community issue not a support issue.

How do I handle this, get updates, or do I just assume that I’ll know more when I need to know more?