I've developed a web software application that allows teachers and students to fix session times.
I'm planning to provide this software for sale as an installable.
However, I cringe at the thought of providing technical support once the software application would be sold to several customers. This is because I still don't have personnel who'll be able to handle support tasks.
This has left me to wonder whether I should offer monthly support subscription plans to customers, or allow them to open paid tickets for individual support tasks.
Which method would be easier to handle with just a few support engineers on the job?
I'd appreciate any advice!
The best model I've seen was with a crew of four dealing with 25,000 users:
--support is free the first three times the user calls. One hour maximum/hard stop per call.
--after the first three calls it's $50 per call (one hour maximum). $50 for each additional hour.
--a yearly support package could be purchased. First three calls were free, but you could call up to 12 times in a 12 month period, one hour per call (hard stop), for $500.
Payment was always handled before tech support took place. No credit card number = have a nice day.
This approach allowed for "free" hand-holding while new users got set up (we're here to help!), and prevented too much noise from entering the system (in other words, people would only go ahead with a call (and pay) if they had a real problem they couldn't solve, rather than being sad and lonely and wanting a chat).
Oh - and bugz get fixed for free - in other words, a bug call is not considered one of the three free, nor is it considered one of the pre-paid subscription calls.
Another way of looking at this is to provide as much self service content as possible, by way of your online product documentation, to deflect as many support calls as possible.
It won't completely obviate the need for a support plan, but it should be part of the thinking.
I think you'll find that doing a pay per ticket system is going to be much more difficult to handle from a billing standpoint but will be good to discourage support requests. In business settings it can be a lot of trouble to get permission to make one off purchases (asking boss for permission, filling out purchase order forms for finance, etc, etc). Thus all the effort can outweigh the desire to get support for a problem.
At least that's what I've found in my experience.