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-Other ASP reports  >  Reports  >  Setting Limits on Unlimited Support


Setting Limits on Unlimited Support
Publication date: December 2009

Executive summary

An open-ended commitment to help solve virtually any customer problem has become the gold standard for support across most of the technology industry. "I can't leave work for the day, or sleep at night, knowing I just left a customer hanging," one veteran support manager told us. "As a new and growing company, we don't feel we're in a position to tell customers they've gone beyond reasonable boundaries," said another.

To be sure, "unlimited" support usually has some limits, typically defined by eligibility. For instance, customers may be required to buy a maintenance plan or register their software before they can submit a support case. Once eligibility has been established, however, the boundaries get pretty fuzzy. If a customer's question can be answered in a reasonable length of time, chances are it qualifies as a support issue.

That sounds like the ultimate customer-friendly policy. Yet in subtle ways, refusing to set clear limits helps reduce support quality. Customers become frustrated when their expectations are denied, resources and budgets are stretched, and companies that try to do too much end up with reputations for below-average support.

We can—and should—do better.

This report explores strategies for improving support quality by reducing low-value, out-of-scope questions that support agents now routinely handle. Four major approaches are discussed:
  • Define the Boundaries of Support
  • Develop Smarter Call Deflection Strategies
  • Dump the Junk
  • Close the Training Gap
The report draws on "best practices" in these areas that have been suggested by ASP members and colleagues.

Copies of the final report are free to ASP members in the members-only area.

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