YouTube Ups Customer Service in Bid to Keep Content Creators From Defecting

Services to Include One-on-One Support, Help With Production Facilities, Revenue-Increasing Tips

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With the number of people who make their living from internet videos multiplying each day and competitors pursuing the biggest talent, Google's YouTube is overhauling customer service to make the world's largest internet video site a little less robotic and a little more human.

At a video convention Thursday in Anaheim, California, YouTube Chief Executive Officer Susan Wojcicki will introduce services that creators can use to line up production facilities and learn how to make more money from their channels. YouTube, owned by Alphabet's Google, is also offering one-on-one support for tens of millions of creators who upload videos to the site, promising emailed answers to questions within 24 hours.

Social-media companies like Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter have begun encroaching on YouTube's territory, paying people to make videos for them. The pioneer in user-generated clips, YouTube is betting it can stay ahead by offering best-in-class service and support, with levels of help increasing based on the popularity of the contributor.

"Creators are the lifeblood of YouTube, and we want to offer them the best support," Ms. Wojcicki said in an interview.

YouTube became the most popular online video destination in the world by making it easy for anyone to upload and share videos, reducing the barriers to stardom for a generation of aspiring writers, actors and reality TV personalities. Yet as advertisers and talent scouts flocked to the site, offering millions of dollars and new promotional opportunities, video creators began to clamor for help.

Ms. Wojcicki's new effort is the latest in a long line of initiatives to please its partners. YouTube has built production facilities around the world to give its creators sound stages, editing rooms and other tools to use free of charge.

It is also funding original programming from creators who have grown popular enough to make shows for traditional media outlets. Rather than watch Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg, one of its most popular online personalities, defect to a cable outlet, YouTube paid him to make one of its first original series. The YouTube star has about 46 million subscribers, according to his page on the website.

"Since the beginning, we said YouTube would only succeed if creators succeed," said Sebastien Missoffe, YouTube's vice president of online content and operations. "We opened up the spaces, increased support with account management."

Mr. Missoffe, who moved to YouTube from Google last year, is the architect of the latest changes. He tested out the new customer-service operation this week, fielding questions from creators eager to get their channels verified and be paid efficiently.

Previously, creators had to visit or use seven different websites and apps to get questions answered, perusing a help center without ever talking to a human. Mr. Missoffe noticed a growing number of turning to social-media sites like Facebook and Twitter for help.

"Lots of creators can't reach or speak with a human; they just deal with robots and an algorithm," he said. "Humanizing us is a major part of what we're doing."

-- Bloomberg News

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