There are vital clues and indications in the search strings that bring readers to The HotLine Magazine from around the world every day. “What is the Definition of Customer Support?” “What is the profitability of customer retention?” “Define the SaaS support model.” “Usual customer retention rate for a SaaS company?” “How to profit from SaaS support?” All of these are indicators of the same fundamental problem. Every so often, an inquiry comes along that goes to the heart of the issue and begs for an immediate reply. “Fixing a broken customer support group” is a perfect example, prompting two immediate questions in return. What do you mean by “broken?” And how would you define “fixing?” Almost invariably, the source of serious problems with a customer support group is external to the group itself; they are inevitably strategic errors. Until the senior management team and the support executive or manager understand each other, and work together, producing a truly effective and lasting resolution for the broken group is unfortunately unlikely.
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.
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.
SaaS enthusiasts claim that support necessarily must be better in the SaaS world because the customer could switch vendors at any time. But where's the proof of that superiority in support quality? Failing to properly set customer expectations can be costly, but there's a huge competitive advantage waiting for the SaaS vendor who can prove their right to the crown of quality customer support.