Our Journey to Discord for Support

Posted on November 27, 2023

7 min read views

Over the past few years, we've found a new home for our support - Discord.

Email and live chat support? We've punted to the side even for our enterprise customers.

Our Discord community now has over a thousand users, a diverse mix of company owners, team members, freelancers, and even a few curious onlookers planning to use Bento in the future.

Support has never felt so effortless, and only recently have I come to understand why.

Providing support on Discord is akin to playing a mage in World of Warcraft.

Just like a mage, you have the choice to offer 1-on-1 support or wield AOE (area of effect) support.

1-on-1 support is simple; it's just a conversation with customers via email, private message, or private Discord channels (during onboarding).

AOE support, however, is when you answer a question in a public channel like #casual or #support. This is where the magic truly unfolds. When you answer a question in a public channel, you're not just addressing that customer's query, you're providing a solution for everyone who is watching whether they need that answer now or in the future.

For instance, last week I answered a question in the #casual channel about our company's history and profitability. My response was later featured in an affiliate review of Bento! 😆

The Upsides

Discord has proven to be a powerful tool for managing customer support at scale. It facilitates real-time communication, easy issue tracking through threads, and fosters a casual, friendly interaction between our support staff and customers. Let's explore why Discord is such a game-changer for customer support at least for us.


Quick Resolution

Every unresolved conversation with a customer adds up, eventually pushing a team to its limits (often resolved by hiring more staff). Each back and forth includes the latency of waiting for someone to check their emails and respond. With Discord, we're able to resolve issues in mere seconds as customers are already online and waiting for a response.

This was a game-changer during last year's Black Friday holiday period.

Historically, it's always been a time of high stress. But with Discord, we were able to resolve tickets almost instantly, winning over our customers. If we had used email, I can guarantee I would have lost my mind.


Casual Conversation

We've noticed that on Discord, people drop the formalities and converse as they would with a friend.

This means we can communicate freely without the constant worry of saying the wrong thing.

And if we do say the wrong thing, a quick edit to the message makes it as if it never happened (something you can't do with email support!).


Cordial Interactions

People are generally more pleasant on Discord than on email or live chat.

In the past, I've received some rather harsh tickets for the simplest of requests when running support on email. I believe people tend to dehumanize others over email.

This is no longer the case.

Given that others can read replies to messages in public channels, they self-moderate their behavior. They also see us being kind to others, responding quickly, and know they'll receive the same treatment.

Moreover, since my replies are public, I’m less likely to respond emotionally to a ticket and land myself in trouble (it's happened before, I'm only human). Even if I do, I can quickly edit my response and minimize the damage.

A perfect example of this was when a customer criticized our UI in a public channel. Almost instinctively, a few other customers jumped in to defend us and asked him to be more respectful.

A few minutes later, the customer apologized and we were able to resolve his issue promptly.


Searchable Conversations

All messages on Discord are indexed. So our customers can find previous threads or discussions where we have addressed the problem they’re currently facing. And if they don’t find an answer, they can ask. The next person to search that problem will find the answer.


Customers Helping Customers

The first time I woke up to see a customer correctly answering another customer's ticket, it felt like magic.

There’s a risk that they’ll guide people down the wrong path. But I’ve found that to be extremely rare (1 in 50). People tend not to go out of their way to help others without good reason.

The Downsides

Discord may not be the perfect fit for everyone. But most of the issues are manageable.


The Initial Silence

For the first 6 months, you will likely be the only one in the Discord, answering questions from users who are wondering if “anyone else is there?”

Most of my startup friends who tried Discord for support after seeing us do it gave up during this initial phase.

From my experience, you need around 300 to 500 users for the platform to feel somewhat lively. You also need active customers who are regularly using the product.


Founders' Engagement is Key

Many people delegate their Discord to their head of marketing or a junior support person.

This is not the experience your users are looking for.

Your users want to interact directly with the founder, engineers, etc who are building the product. They want their feature requests to be heard and see you take action on them.

If you as the founder aren’t willing to engage with your customers, then you shouldn’t be using Discord for support (perhaps you shouldn't even be running a software business).


Not Everyone Will Love It

For the most part, 95% of people have been delightful and accepting of Discord. The 5% that weren’t or took exception to it ended up being a bad fit in general and churned out often making a scene which we just deleted after they left.

Just get good at saying, “it’s not for everyone but we'd love if you could give it a try” and then show through your actions that it is a great way for them to get the most out of your product.


Timezones Can Be Tricky

This is perhaps the most challenging part.

I live in Japan and the majority of our customers are from all around the world.

The solution I came up with was to hire someone in Europe to message customers while I’m sleeping. She’s pretty good at answering most simple questions, and for any more complex ones (usually automation or dev related) she just asks them politely to wait until I come online.

We’ve learned it’s more important for someone to get a quick reply (acknowledge they’ve been heard) than an answer so we optimize for that.

Looking Ahead

For Bento, we plan to continue using Discord for support for the foreseeable future.

It doesn't seem to get harder the more customers we add. In fact, it actually seems to get easier as we figure out the best way to manage it and run it.

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below or join our Discord and ask them there!

Subscribe to my personal updates

Get emails from me about building software, marketing, and things I've learned building products on the web. Occasionally, a quiet announcement or two.

Email marketing powered by Bento