The HotLine Magazine Archives
For The Profession of Cloud/SaaS Product Support
The shift to the Software As A Service distribution model inevitably brings the end of large dedicated Sales teams for software vendors. The new profits-realization methodology, being based on incremental gains from many income streams rather than from bulk up-front events, does not allow for the costs of large direct sales forces. It also doesn't allow paying for large customer support staffing levels either -- a fact which has vital significance to two different groups. The first is the SaaS vendors, who will need to pay far more attention to user experience in their product design efforts. The second group that needs to be paying very serious attention to the implications of the ever-growing shift to SaaS are the manufacturers of customer contact center technology.

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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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The current bleak economic landscape offers proof of what has long been suggested here: there is no future in tech support. There is, however, a very bright potential for the profession of managing customer relationships. It's time to acknowledge the difference between layoffs and leadership, to explore the architecture of what comes before management: the design and development of what might be called "product as a relationship."

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It's time to profoundly reinvent the profession of Customer Support. From the beginning of the technology industry to the present time, Support has been the Department of Break/Fix; “when something breaks, we fix it.” As such, the “profession” offers no real economic value to anyone; it never has. What's worse, as we move deeper into the gathering recession and farther into the rapidly unfolding SaaS era, Support as it is currently defined has no future. There are two paths that lead away from this point. One is downward into obscurity, obsolescence and ultimately extinction. The other is towards an authentic profession based on the exchange of true economic value.

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