The HotLine Magazine Archives
For The Profession of Cloud/SaaS Product Support
By Mikael Blaisdell

I’ve had discussions with many senior executives over the years about the potential of using Customer Support quality as a competitive advantage. It has a nice ring to it, and in theory, sounds good. Here’s an example one executive gave me.

The sales rep for XYZ Corp., an enterprise software manufacturer, began the meeting with the prospect’s senior management team by dialing the speaker phone in the middle of the boardroom table. After hearing the canned greeting and the on hold announcement for the Support department of their principal competitor, the rep turned the volume off and started the presentation. 45 minutes later, during the Q&A period at the end, the prospect’s CEO asked: “I’m curious; why did you start by calling your competition’s support number?” The sales rep smiled, and reached forward to turn up the volume. They were still on hold. He then ended the call, and invited the CEO to call XYZ’s Support number. 20 seconds later, they were connected directly to a support rep — and the deal was in the bag.

The story may be apocryphal, but it’s useful to illustrate what most people would think of as superiority of Support Quality and of its use in a competitive scenario. The moral of the story is: Offer quality Customer Support. Answer the phone quickly and competently; don’t leave people on hold and you’ll win the deal. But the easy answer is not really a true competitive advantage. Any company willing to spend the money on the necessary resources can answer the Support phone quickly. A fast, competent and courteous rep may satisfy The Customer’s Metric, but that isn’t a sustainable competitive advantage because the competition can easily equal it.

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. If you’re ready to go to that level, we’re here to help.

July 10, 2007