[thelist] Website Tech Support Contracts

patrick pms at stoutstreet.com
Thu Mar 8 09:14:09 CST 2007

Eduardo Kienetz wrote:
> 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.

In addition, you'll need to address the 'use it or lose it' rule: some 
clients will expect the contract to extend if they don't use the service.

We do maintenance for web sites we develop, and generally do
	-- first 1-3 months free
	-- 6 month/1 year contracts after
However, we mostly use these as incentives to the client to keep site 
content fresh and their sites 'alive' beyond initial roll-out.


patrick sanders
web sites that fit

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