Hey Kevin and team. Have had a quick skim read of this thread and thought I’ll chip in as a new customer. I’m also the senior engineer (and director) of an I.T. support and services business in Australia. We’ve got a range of customers we support from small businesses, to Government and Enterprise.
We also support a range of services, basic desktop support, iPhone apps and development support. We support graphic designers and help them with their web-development, etc, so I have a bit of experience under my belt.
I’m only 2-days into our license, and already support is lacking
One of the ways I like to learn the feel of a framework, is by digging around documentation/knowledge-bases and forums (if available) and see what common problems people have been hitting.
Your sales documentation says that the best way to get technical support is to “post in our Official Technical Support forums”. It’s only taken me 2-days to realise there is a huge problem here. Just on the first page of the tech support forums, there’s at-least 8 people (25%) who haven’t received any support at all. And I imagine a good chunk of people are being supported by the community.
Why exactly are we paying up big for a licensee that doesn’t really, have any type of support? Ignoring at-least 25% of your customers support requests does not even remotely quality as “support”.
This needs to be fixed, yesterday.
The support personally doesn’t bother me ... but it will hurt EE
The lack of support doesn’t really bother *me*. We’ve been using CodeIgniter for years and I’m already fairly confident with EE. We’ve also just ported a few of our custom CI libraries to EE add-ons without too much issue, so already have a good crasp of the underlying architecture (A- in my opinion, great work!)
However, we work with a few local web-developers and if we were to recommend EE to them, they would switch away from Wordpress/Joomla to EE for any future client work overnight. But, I can’t recommend they do so - because such a recommendation will back fire on me as-soon as one of them gets ignored on the forums.
Support forums are ok, but I seriously wouldn’t focus on them
There’s better communities at stackexchange.com/stackoverflow.com. If I were you guys, I really wouldn’t focus on this whole forums being the official support policy. If I had a serious problem that I needed help with, I would be very seriously turned off with having to work through the problem on a public forum.
I much prefer private support for that. That’s not to say the community can’t then learn what the problem/fix was, but I don’t like the idea of having my name tagged to the entire discussion.
A forum should only ever accompany a proper support channel. The forum should *never* be the official support channel. There’s a very good reason why almost all services and support based businesses don’t provide front-line support in community arenas - I really think EE needs to learn these lessons.
Separate support from the licenses
I’ve bought a license, if I come to very much love EE - I will end up buying a lot of licenses. But I don’t require support and likely never will. If I buy 100 licenses, you’re going to freak out thinking your support is going to blow out 100x with more work. But that’s not correct, because I am the type of customer who will never request support.
By bundling the support into the license cost, you’ve made it very hard (likely, impossible) for EllisLab to every really provide real support. Because you don’t know what support everyone needs.
Providing good support takes time, a lot of effort and a lot of planning. It’s impossible to plan if you have no idea what your customers expect or want. And this is why almost every sane business with decent support separates support costs from product/services.
For example, if you split the license into a flat $50 (pulling figures out my behind) license with no support, but with upgrades. Then you’ve set the expectation to the customer that they won’t get any support, but will receive updates - that’s easy to plan, right? If you sell 100 of these licenses, you don’t have to worry about whether or not you require 4 extra support staff.
Then, if you have bronze/gold support packages with very clearly defined response and target times. You can actually plan and build a world-class support structure around these packages. You guys are in business long enough to know that 1 support personal can answer ?? support tickets a day, and on average they spend ?? minutes per request. So you plan multiple levels of “better” support around this to please whatever expectations your clients wants.
At the moment you’re selling a license for a few hundred bucks with the expectation of “world-class” support that isn’t defined, and quite clearly isn’t world-class, I wouldn’t even call it support. It’s almost like the marketing department who build the web-site haven’t stuck their head into the support department.
It took me a few years, but if you have a look at one of my businesses (http://www.macexperts.com.au/services/support/premium) you’ll see we’ve tackled support costs on a per-employee basic which allows us to meet and beat our customers expectations and provide the exact support and service they require (which is working well for us).
I think EllisLabs needs to pick the right fight, and figure out what your customers expectations are and really target those expectations while running a successful business.
Trying to pick this whole “We’ll support 100% of our customers for $250 with world-class support” in my opinion is a fantastic race to the bottom. Some clients like me are going to cost you $0 in support per/year, while others are quite literally going to cost you $20k+ per year.
Just some food for thought!