The HotLine Magazine Archives
For The Profession of Cloud/SaaS Product Support
Since the beginnings of the software industry, Sales has claimed to own the customer relationship. Under the traditional premised-based model, the connection between company and customer is almost invariably transactional in nature, an exchange of up-front money for software licenses. Sales gets their commissions, and has but little interest in the customer afterward. The burden of extracting value from their…

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SaaS/Cloud / On Demand companies can definitely benefit a lot from the lessons of the past. Many a perpetual license software manufacturer has brought disaster by prematurely releasing products before they have been fully tested and are ready to be supported. Who represents the interests of the customer in your company, and what authority goes with that responsibility?

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Hiring a Customer Support/Service executive or manager for a SaaS / On-Demand company through use of a position description from the old model software manufacturing world is a recipe for trouble. SaaS success requires that you hire the right people for the right roles, those who have SaaS DNA and can function effectively in the new ecosystem.

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For SaaS companies, where the application and its data resides out on the web instead of on the local PC, the support burden is less -- and that means lower headcount in the customer contact center. Why? Because the shift to the webtop promises to sharply reduce the impact of the Windows operating system and lower the volume of support requests. What will this mean to companies and support professionals?

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To truly succeed as a company in the new Software as a Service / On-Demand ecosystem, SaaS thinking must be embedded in the very DNA of every employee on every level throughout the company. But what does SaaS DNA actually look like, and what does it mean in the context of organizational transformation?

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The role of Support in the SaaS/Cloud era desperately needs to be reinvented. The reputation of the group hasn't changed despite the advantages of SaaS, it's still about waste rather than generating value. What's needed is a complete redesign of the functional elements of the entire company. Support is a core strategic issue, and to bring that fundamental shift into reality will require leadership and clear vision from the senior management team.

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Underneath the brave new world of SaaS / On Demand, there lurks an ugly little secret. Nothing has changed for the customer calling the customer support contact center, or for the rep that answers the call. The traditional perception of Support as being about Break/Fix still rules. The quality of support hasn't improved -- and it never will until the old Break/Fix model is completely replaced.

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What's needed is something more, a revolutionary redefinition of the concept of Customer Support itself. If software can become a service, then it's time for support to go beyond fast resolutions of problems and become an inseparable core component of the relationship product.

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Success in the SaaS/Cloud ecosystem requires a new approach to every aspect of software manufacturing. There is no excess margin in the SaaS model to cover organizational inefficiencies. Support can no longer be seen as a separate function; it necessarily must be a core aspect of the relationship product.

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Green Dollar-signIn the traditional perpetual-license model of selling software, the manufacturer takes the majority of their profit up front from the sale of the licenses. In the Software As A Service subscription model, that large up-front influx of revenue and profit goes away, replaced by a more predictable monthly membership arrangement. SaaS profit is realized incrementally instead of all at once.…

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