Scaling Product Support with Open Source at WhatsApp
When a product enters the market, it is just the beginning of its life. The developers need to support the product for its entire lifetime. The quality of product support is critical to the success of the product. Good product support makes users happy who will in turn become the best advocates of your product and bring more users. Bad product support will damage your company's image and waste marketing efforts that bring in users who are later disappointed by how the product is supported. For enterprise softwares, product support may even have legal implications with the requirements of SLAs. Traditionally companies that offer enterprise softwares hire a large group of enterprise sales people to install/configure and answer customer queries. This is not always scalable, especially when you are a small company or when your product has way too many users.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging platforms, and is supporting billions of its users to keep in touch with their most closed ones by offering a simple interface and a secure end-to-end encrypted messaging channel. Since the close beta launch of the WhatsApp Business API last August, we have seen great interests from innumerable businesses.
Even with a relatively small list of closed beta partners, the topic of how to properly scale product support is always at the heart of the team. Unlike traditional enterprise softwares, We turn the other way, to the open source world, on how to scale product support.
The open source software world is never short of popular product. Millions of developers are running their production system on Linux systems and building storefronts with React every day. Developers trust the system because they can see every line of code that builds up the product, they can fork their own clone to make customised changes and submit pull requests so the product can be improved. Developers can search through Github issues when they are stuck and the community powers itself. From a product perspective, this is a wonderful way to scale product support: by giving users tools that they can trust and offering users a platform where they can openly discuss issues and collaborate on solutions. This is exactly what we observed with the two repos we have open sourced so far: https://github.com/WhatsApp/WhatsApp-Business-API-Setup-Scripts and https://github.com/WhatsApp/WADebug.