The HotLine Magazine Archives
For The Profession of Cloud/SaaS Product Support
Before a SaaS/Cloud vendor establishes a Customer Success Management group, it’s vitally important to set the foundation for winning by clearly defining how the performance of that team is to be measured in both of its purposes.  The first purpose of the CSM group is the real benefit experienced by the customers.  The second is the value brought to the…

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More than ten years ago, Ken Shevock, then the VP of Worldwide Support Operations for Cisco, commented “Nobody is really "winning' at Support. We're all doing the same things to try to keep up, but to get to the next level, we're going to have to do something new.” From the beginning of the technology industry, Support / Service — Customer Care — whatever the name — has been about reacting to problems reported by customers in their use of technology products. If ever we are to win, we need to recognize that how the industry has defined Support is inherently flawed. Invited to speak to a consortium of Support & Service executives in Bellevue, Washington, about The Redefinition of Customer Support, my presentation focused on why winning, under the current definition of the profession, is impossible -- and a vision of that something new.

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Thinking that the act of restoring lost functionality in exception situations is somehow of the same stature as the value-purpose for buying the product in the first place is unfortunately all too common, but it's still flawed. No one buys a product in order to experience a breakage and then getting it fixed. Business products are purchased because they offer the potential for increased productivity and profitability to the purchaser. The real economic value exchange is: I give you an amount of money so that I can use the product to make much more money for myself. If Support is to become a true profession, it will be found in being perceived as a necessary component of that value expression. The new Mission Statement for Support needs to be: “We directly contribute to making more sustainable profitability faster/better for our company and yours -- and we can prove it.”

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The essential key to long-term success for a SaaS company is simply stated: No Churn.  Get the right customers and keep them.  But all too often, Software-as-a-Service companies fall into the bad habits of their traditional-model predecessors by focusing only on acquiring new licensee customers.  The resulting unconscious assumption that all customer relationships will automatically persist and/or be profitable…

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