The changing face of support

Peerless WordPress Support.

“The times are a changing”, wrote Bob Dylan over 50 years ago. And the way businesses support enterprise digital services is also changing. Dramatically.

Support has moved out of the office/cubicle and into the realtime/”always-on” world. Liberated by the availability of fabulous cloud-based apps such as Zendesk (others available), support is baked into every corner of business. And here is how it worked for us.

Support used to be a department, I know this because we used to have one at Connected – we had a couple of guys picking up client issues and dealing with them in a managed and methodical manner. It was effective, if not inspiring or impassioned. Often run as part of the IT department, and frequently labelled with the “sales prevention” tag these monoliths of 1960’s hierarchy seem to be going the way of the dinosaur.

Today, support (or Peerless WordPress Support as we like to call it internally) is baked into the core of everything we do. Everyone in our team is touched by support and is “online” regardless of where they are. It’s not a department anymore, it’s core to what we do.

The combination of Zendesk, Slack and Basecamp ensures that everyone has access to all the information and help they need to fix problems. Effectiveness is off the scale and the ability to muster resources at the drop of a hat to fix major problems is astounding to watch.

For example, yesterday I was standing outside Kings Cross tube station when a client site went down for reason(s) unknown. I happen to be with the support guy who was pinged on his iPhone with ticket. We delayed going down into the tube (iffy data connection) for a few minutes as he responded to the ticket and kicked-off the investigation, bringing in two others to help out – all summoned via Slack. 20 mins later we stepped off the tube at Vauxhall to find the site back up and running again. It was beautiful to watch first hand.

This contrasts somewhat from only a few short years ago. In 2010, we used to provide support ticket turnaround in about a day and most jobs were done in a week, or so. Clients were happy, it was faster than most others but it was an expensive function to provide and there was little or no love in it. The support team clustered together around their block of 4 desks (after commuting across the rush hour).

Five years on, the average ticket response is a handful of hours and most issues are fixed the same day.

Ironically, this burns less resource usage on our side – a lot less. It’s a fact that when you clear work quicker, you burns less total resource – so it actually suits us to respond and fix quickly. This might seem counter-intuitive if you’re used to paying high costs for methodical (aka slow) support.

With support no longer confined by old-fashioned office cubicles it liberates support to be an always-on function that fits around the needs of both staff and clients. No more “knocking off at 5 sharp and going home”, support issues move around staff, locations and timezones with a fluidity that only comes from a self-managed, cloud-based support environment.

And it works for the P & L, too. Fixed-price support is often a fine balance between providing service and turning a profit, but as we have reduced the resource to fix a problem by over 30% that balance shifts postively. And that means we don’t need to skimp on providing service, we’re open to truly excel.

More profit, coupled with a tightly managed client portfolio allows us to offer truly world-class support to organisations that traditionally couldn’t afford it. And exceptional support services to larger companies that really appreciate a unique level of support.

It’s why we coined the phrase, Peerless Support. It’s also why we have a 100% client satisfaction rating that is independently audited.

By Martin Dower

Martin Dower