Over the years, technical complexity of products and the ecosystem in which they operate have compounded tremendously. Products are increasingly becoming difficult to maintain and complex to support. As part of their evaluation process, customers are taking a critical look at the quality and depth of support provided by product vendors even before making a feature-to-feature comparison between available alternatives.
Since these products are deployed in a wide variety of configurations, customers need continuous help and see great value in entering and extending support contracts, often at significant cost. Thus, technical support has truly become a major product differentiator, not just to improve customer satisfaction and retention, but also from the viewpoint of revenue generation.
Building and growing a competent technical support team for complex products in the face of ever growing customer base is a daunting task for any product company, more so for Small and Medium Businesses (SMB). At the same time, handing off the customer-facing activity to a partner is a difficult decision fraught with significant potential risks. A few questions SMBs battle with are:
– Does the partner understand and have the capability to support my savvy customers who use technically complex products?
– Can the partner help transform the technical support function with the latest trends, such as collapsing layers of support and adoption of Web 2.0 technologies?
– Can the partner help the SMB through the journey of support maturity levels of Reactive -> Organized -> Demand Reduction -> Value Added Support?
Please share your thoughts and experiences as a buyer; or as a provider of these highly complex technology products. Can an SMB achieve “support nirvana” by retaining focus on its core business on a “shoestring budget?”