What Sort of Support Your Company Should Offer

The other day I talked about the different roles of support within a few companies. We know there are companies that provide regular reactive support, more proactive account management, and of course, very involved consulting. Once the roles are defined, the next question relates to which role fits best for your company. As a service provider, what level of role or roles of support should you fill in order to be competitive? The question actually isn’t difficult to answer.

Consider your product or service.
If you have a simple product or service or a product or service with relatively limited capabilities, you don’t need to provide consulting or sophisticated account management. Web hosting is an interesting example because there is a lot of potential since the scope is so broad. Budget shared web hosts don’t need to offer consulting or account management because their typical customer pays less than $20 per month. On the other hand, higher end web hosts or web hosts that cater more to the enterprise type companies do need more complicated account management and do need to have consulting services available. Since both companies serve totally different markets with different services, their needs are different.

Consider your price point.
As mentioned above, consider the sort of customer you deal with on a day to day basis. Consumers aren’t really used to (nor do they really have any expectations for) high end account management or optional consulting services. Small businesses don’t usually expect (and often can’t afford) consulting, either. Big businesses are more complicated and need more help. Those are all things you have to consider. If you know your customer base, it should be a pretty easy decision.

Consider what you’ve been asked to do.
If your support requests seem to be more along the lines of account management or your consulting requests seem to be more along the lines of support, you may need to adjust (and/or define) your offerings. You want to be delivering the service your customers need (and want) to them. As always, feel free to survey interested customers and ask them what level of service they expect and what level of service they would be willing to pay for.

Don’t hesitate to do it on a small scale.
It is okay to have account managers for your 10 biggest clients, a simple partnership with a consultant instead of a formal agreement, etc. You can start all of your programs and different service options on a small scale basis and expand as you have the time and other resources. You learn a lot by starting off small and then going ahead and doing it all out. You’ll need time to hire the right people, setup the right processes, etc.

It shouldn’t take very long or be very complicated to figure out what is expected of you as a support provider.

One Response to “What Sort of Support Your Company Should Offer”

  1. Ben said:

    Mar 24, 08 at 4:20 pm

    I think taking that smaller scale that you mentioned is the smartest way to do it because you save a bunch on resources and time. You’re also more flexible to tinker with your support infrastructure.