Contact Management Tech Support – How much should you expect?

Different vendors have different ideas of what Tech-Support means. What I call Tech-Support, as defined in my Matrix, is “If it is broke, we will help you fix it”. In other words, if their software is not working; it is not doing something it is supposed to do; or it is doing something it is not supposed to do, they will help you fix it. A different kind of support would be if you call and ask how to do a mail merge. Tech-Supportwill USUALLY refer you to a user’s manual or training videos. What I call Help-Desk is a policy whereby they will help you fix problems, but will also walk you through how to do something, as a normal part of their service.

Why the two different policies? Revenue streams. Income. Tech-Support/Help-Desk is one of, if not the biggest expense software vendors have. Web based products have an ongoing stream of income. They get paid thousands of dollars by thousands of people every month. That is many thousands of dollars every month, whether they get any new customers/users or not. That pays for a larger support staff. If they are big enough, they can answer the phone directly, much if not most of the time.

Desktop solutions on the other hand are paid only once, up front, when you purchase the product. They will then provide you with Tech-Support and with some products Help-Desk support for anywhere from 30 days to one year. After that you must pay for it, with some exceptions. What percentage of people pay for it after the 30 days or one year? Very few. which makes for a much smaller support staff, longer response times, and a narrower scope of what they will help with. If they have a large user base, and were to attempt to provide significantly more, most would simply end up going out of business. Typical response times for desktop software varies, but can be as much as 24 hours. Longer than that should be unacceptable.

Am I saying that desktop solutions are a bad idea? Absolutely not! I use one myself. The point is that I wanted to speak up for desktop solutions that are getting a bad rap about tech support. Too many people expect too much for too little.

Another tendency (not a hard and fast rule) I’ve seen with desktop solutions is that the more users there are, the more questions there are, and the more of a demand that is placed on support. As the company sells more product, it is a cart and horse thing dealing with increased sales, generating more of a demand on support, and being able to grow the support staff commensurately. Obviously, the better the product, the less of a need for support. But there are still a good percentage of users that want hand holding, so again the more users, the more demand for support.

Be aware that NO RE CRM company TRULY offers 24/7 support, by phone or by e-mail that they will commit to. Some do go the extra mile when they can, and some offer extended hours via e-mail, but virtually none work on weekends, again, that they will commit to.

So income is the primary reason for the two different policies. It makes sense, and if you are objective about it, it is also quite fair.

What I hear very often is that people do not want to pay for a Web based product, because they want to own the software, and not pay for it monthly. BUT – they then want to have Tech-Support, and many expect Help-Desk support as well. Sorry to disappoint, but an old adage come to mind. “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” You can say “I paid for the software and I should get support for that money too”, and you do, to a point. But again, that one time fee just doesn’t last very long. If you want ongoing quickly answered phone support, more often than not, you have to pay an ongoing fee.

The questions then become; if the product is stable, and they have a good training tutorial library available, how much do you need in the way of support after the initial setup? Do they have a “per incident” fee for support? Might that be sufficient for relatively rare future needs?

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