At one time or another, we all need a little support – plenty of songs (Bill Withers – ‘Lean on Me’) and prose have been written about the very subject. But what about when it’s your business that requires some support. In the studio this week, we’ve been thinking about the varying degrees of support that’s out there from the non-existent to the fanatical and where as business owners do you draw the line?
Like the people who run them, all businesses are unique and will have different requirements and expectations when it comes to support, especially for when things go a little pear shaped. Generally most products and services have some form of support attached to it – if you buy something like an appliance you’ll receive a warranty so you can easily replace a faulty or damaged product within the given time frame. Take Rode Microphones for example, who offer a lifetime warranty to their customers -resulting in happy consumers offering testimonials about how they received a new product because their previous one broke after ten years of use. While this is a fantastic move by Rode, is this kind of support sustainable for other industries, such as web design?
At the other end of the spectrum is the support of the non-existent kind. Unfortunately this kind of support is found all too often. Take a look at an online forum on the topic and you’ll soon notice that they are littered with disgruntled consumers discussing the lack of support they are receiving from service providers. Many of them are business owners where the old saying time = money rings true, where spending two hours on hold waiting for someone to answer your query is taking you away from your ability to do your job is not really going to cut the mustard. And who knows who will be on the other end of the line? It could be any old geek, sat in a basement somewhere, reading off a script and relying on a manual. This impersonal, under-resourced way of dealing with support might as well be non-existent – how often have you just ‘given up’ after trying to reach someone who can actually solve your problem? It’s important to consider how often things go wrong that your business requires support? If it’s only once in a while, surely the inconvenience of a couple of hours is not going to bare that much impact. But if you constantly need support, could it be time to reconsider the service or product in question?
Fanatical support is the complete antithesis to non-existent support. The definition of fanatical is “filled with excessive and single-minded zeal,” so how does this translate in the support world you ask? Fanatical support is where you pay for instant support. Companies like Rackspace champion the phrase and pride themselves on their nimble responsiveness and excellent customer service – at any time of the day. Paying for a service like this would certainly offer business owners peace of mind and gives the assurance that if anything were to go wrong help is not too far away and not to the detriment of the business. But don’t forget you’re paying them with your cold, hard…dollars.
As a business owner whether you’re a tradie, designer or microphone supplier – you’ll need to draw a line in the sand at some point about the level of support you will or won’t provide. Although for many it’s the awkward ‘grey area’ experiences with clients that shapes this support policy, having a pros and cons list regarding various levels of support will definitely arm you to make calculated judgements when clients come knocking…again.