[thelist] Website Tech Support Contracts

Eduardo Kienetz eduardok at gmail.com
Thu Mar 8 06:54:23 CST 2007

On 3/8/07, Chris Dempsey <evolt at cubeit.co.uk> wrote:
> We're increasingly spending more and more time each week dealing with tech
> support issues.  Way back in the day when we were much smaller with fewer
> clients if we had an email support request or the likes we'd just fix it
> there and then at no cost.
> Consequently we now have hundreds of clients who have been with us for years
> and have come to expect free tech support on demand and this is pulling us
> away from the development work we are scheduled to be doing.

We passed through the same here.

> Obviously we need to implement some kind of Support Contract system so that
> we can bill clients for the extra work done.  I can see us needing two
> options:
> - On demand - client pays an hourly rate and is invoiced monthly
> - On contract - client pays an annual fee for xx hours of support per month

We tried first option but it turned into 2 problems (to us):
1) being precise in how many hours really used (client might not trust you);
2) we could not estimate/forecast a number of hours used for that type
of service in order to be able to have a dedicated person getting
those calls (he could be doing 'nothing' for some time). Since our
development hour is more expensive than tech support (lower pay
check), using dev people wouldn't be good.

Turned that we got contracts (xx hours per month) so we got to know
how much we would get ($$) every month and could have a dedicated
person for that (I was the tech support person and could get back to
dev, now I'm support level 2, as needed).
Stuff not urgent is handled by e-mail at no cost usually.

> We briefly considered and then rejected options such as a premium rate
> phoneline for tech support - too clumsy and clients are just going to call
> the regular landline anyway.


> Has anyone been in a similar situation and got any advice of what to or what
> not to do?

Just a comment :]

> In addition we intend to set up an FAQ / Tutorial area for clients who
> prefer not to pay for tech support and they can use the info there
> themselves at no cost.

Our internal management software records all activity for a client
(like request tracker but a software developed by us years ago, now
moved to the web). Up to now it is being used internally, but we will
soon expand to the clients' access so that they can open a new request
and read old support tickets (solutions included) online. Will help a
bit but a FAQ would definitely be the perfect complement, which we got
no time to start yet :)


Eduardo  Bacchi Kienetz

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