And the kitchen sink?

By Technical Support

When creating high-end support offerings it’s tempting to load them up with all the goodies: the best response times (naturally), access to dedicated support resources, and perhaps non-support extras such as free training or a pass to the annual Users’ Conference. Is the kitchen sink approach a good thing?

  • What’s the tangible benefit for the customer? While all customers may appreciate free training perhaps the higher-end customers organize training internally instead, or would prefer onsite training that’s not covered under the program — in other words won’t see the value of the feature. Validate the features with actual customers before committing to them.
  • Be specific. As an ex-training manager who had to deliver against a promise of “two free training days” I had to explain to dozens of unhappy customers that the two days of training had to occur at a training facility and could only apply to one lucky individual, in other words no onsite training and no group training. I rarely had the heart to add that it was on a space-available basis only. As a result, customers were unhappy while taking up seats that could have been sold. Make the deliverable very clear to avoid misunderstanding.
  • Create a tracking mechanism. The customer with that “free” pass to the Users’ Conference should be able to register easily and receive the freebie without hassle. This requires some kind of cross-functional tracking system. Think of it as you create the mixed offerings.
  • Add an expiration date. Typically benefits accrue only during the support period so a customer that gets, say, 10 free training days must use them or lose them before the end of the year. That will make your CFO happy and reduce the tracking burden.
  • Remind customers to use their freebies. This may sound counter-intuitive: why remind customers to use their free or discounted┬átraining or consulting if they will expire soon? Why not keep the money instead? That’s because you want customers to experience the value of premium support: even if they don’t use the freebie they will be reminded of what they are getting. Schedule the reminders so customers have ample time to schedule training or consulting.

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