I'm part of a small team with a website that is thankfully growing. We are in the process of trying to make some projections, and while budgeting for future technology-related costs such as hosting, bandwidth, etc we are also trying to budget in support costs on a per user (or per 1k users) basis.
Currently, we are spending ~1-2hr/week per 5k users in support, but we have no idea if this is good or bad. Our user's tend to span a wide range of ages and computer literacy categories, so we are assuming that our support times will be at the top end of any 'normal' range.
Can anyone speak from experience, or point me in the right direction as it relates to industry numbers wrt supporting end-users for a web-based application? We'd love to see how we compare, and see if lowering our support-time budget is something worth spending some time tackling at this point.
I suggest you look at this from a different angle. If I was you, Paul, I wouldn't give any thought to how much support other apps provide. It's going to vary massively depending on the annual revenue per customer, lifetime value of each customer, the support curve over time, etc...
I suggest you figure out what it takes to provide great support and then determine if you can scale that cost and still make the profit you need.
Using your example, if it takes about 1.5 hrs/week to provide great support to 5000 users, then a full-time support person could support about 150,000 users. Can you make a profit if that support person costs you $40,000 per year? My company couldn't dream of supporting that many customers with a single person.
On the other hand, if you sell a SaaS app for an average of $2000 per year, what do you want to pay in support costs per customer? $100 maybe? If this is the case, you can afford one $40,000 per year employee for every 400 customers. This is closer to our model.