As the Software As A Service business model continues its rapid advance, the inherent changes for both vendor and customer are both substantial and significant. But once again, Customer Support is in danger of getting shoved to a back burner. I’m sure you’ve heard the usual statements of “strategies:” “SaaS doesn’t need Support, it’s included in the subscription.” “We’re going to do it all via web self-service.” “The social networking community will take care of it for us.” And, of course, “just keep costs down.” If you’d like to be part of a smarter approach, you’re invited to take part in a new benchmarking and research project that’s aimed squarely at taking the best of what we’ve learned from the past and using it to create the future. The result will be best-practices data and better business & operational models for both SaaS and Customer Support.
First, we’re going to establish some baseline metrics. That will involve an in-depth online survey that explores the core aspects of the Strategy, Process, People and Technology of customer support in today’s SaaS vendor community. Everyone who completes the survey will get a free copy of the Report of the results, which will help you to identify what’s actually going on right now in the Support departments across a wide range of SaaS companies. (No company names or identifiable data will ever be released; confidentiality is guaranteed.) You’ll be able to use the questions of the survey instrument itself and the aggregate data of the Report to evaluate your own operations and to make good forecasts for SaaS initiatives that you may be planning to launch.
Next, I will be doing a series of in-depth interviews with the research participants and SaaS pioneers, based on their responses to the initial survey. I’m going to ask them to share what they’ve learned about what works and what doesn’t work in SaaS Support. Their actionable insights and techniques will be published in the Report and in subsequent articles here on The HotLine Magazine, and will be yours to apply as best fits your own environment.
The Road Ahead
The Project won’t end with just one survey. We all have a lot of work to do. The migration to SaaS offers the profession of Customer Support a chance for a fresh start — a chance to get beyond a lot of the mistakes and dead ends that we have had to live with under the traditional perpetual-license software business model. This time, let’s get it right.
If you’re a part of the SaaS management community — CEO’s, senior Technology, Sales, Marketing, Support personnel, etc. — your voice needs to be heard. Your responses will be a big help in shaping the future of both SaaS and Customer Support.
To find out more about the Project and to start the survey, please click here .
If you’d like to ask specific questions about the Project and/or sponsorship opportunities, you’re welcome to contact  me directly or to join in the general discussion  in The SaaS & Support Forum on LinkedIn,
The SaaS & Support Project research is sponsored by the Association of Support Professionals (ASP), the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), and by TechAmerica. Vendor companies such as OpSource and Codebaby are also sponsors of the Project. If your company would like to be involved as well, please give me a call.