One of the most significant results of the rapid development of the PC market was the creation of a new box in the standard software company organizational chart. Driven by floods of calls for help from new customers, the technology manufacturers quickly created “Tech Support” departments and staffed them with mostly entry-level personnel as a way of avoiding burdening expensive engineering staff resources. The charter for the new group was simple: “Handle the calls as best you can and don’t bother the Engineers.” Members of the Support staff soon learned that the only way to win was to transfer elsewhere in the company, proving the barbed comment: “The only good tech-support rep is the one that left last week to take a real job in Engineering.”
The Call For Something New
While a lot has changed for the better over the years as “Tech Support” has slowly become “Customer Support,” too much yet remains unfortunately as it was in the beginning. The complaint of generations of support reps and their managers about being accorded less status in the organization than “illegitimate red-headed stepchildren” is still often heard today. There can be little doubt about the underlying message in historically being the first group to be affected when budgets are reduced and headcount must be cut, and the last to benefit from better economic times. There is no future in the Break/Fix role, in being predominantly about reacting to customer problems. A fundamental change is needed in the way that the technology industry perceives the role, profession and practice of Support. It is time for something new.
In professional conference presentations, published articles and columns in the trade press, Mikael Blaisdell has been advocating a new vision for the profession of managing customer relationships for more than 20 years. Now, with the advent of the SaaS/Cloud business model and its inherent shifts, powerful forces are at work in the technology industry. It’s time for the emergence of a new profession, solidly based in the production of strategic economic value to both customer and company, and measured on profitability and customer retention. Companies and individual professionals are invited to become a part of the process of change, to shape and seize the opportunities that are becoming available.
- Article: The Redefinition of Customer Support
- Real Economic Value vs. Break/Fix Support
- The Redefinition Challenge
- SaaS & The Future of Customer Support
- SaaS & Customer Success: The (new) Definition of Customer Support