I'm currently "on hold" waiting for Salesforce.com customer support to get back to me. You'll note that on hold is in quotes because I'm not actually waiting on a telephone line. Rather, I'm waiting for a call back following the customer support agent's attempt to telephone me from a number that I don't recognize to a desk phone that I almost never answer. So here I am, sitting in limbo with a problem that I would characterize as urgent. Like waiting for the cable guy to show up. And thinking to myself, so this is "Enterprise Software Support".
I think I've written about this topic before, but as it's timely, it deserves repeating. Several years ago, Salesforce.com restructured their customer support offering. If you wanted to pay several thousand dollars a year, you could get premier support. Premier support is pretty nice. If you have 50 seats or more, you get a dedicated person who, supposedly, acts almost like another system admin for your company. But the main thing you got from Salesforce was a phone number -- you could call them if you had a problem.
For the rest of us, the rule is pretty much, "don't call us unless your business can't connect." Got a problem? You should start by asking somebody else. Ask a friend, ask a neighbor, ask someone in our community. That doesn't help? Well, you can always submit a form on the help and training site. In which case, our typical response time is 2 business days.
Keep in mind that, for my seat alone, our business pays close to $1500 per year. And we have a number of seats. Also keep in mind that we've been customers since the mid-2000s. I mention that because I think it's important to contrast the support that I've received from Salesforce.com with the support that I received from the team at AgileBits (Heroes of Customer Service) last year. This is the company that makes 1Password. Keep in mind that the entire amount of money that I spent on 1Password probably doesn't amount to 10% of the cost of on year's seat license for Salesforce.com.
Monetizable Tiers or Table Stakes?
As a consumer, you're often sold on two tiers of service -- a business level and an everybody else level. Businesses have expectations and needs. If a business has problems with certain types of services, it starts a chain reaction. As a consumer, we know that we can't really call Google for help with Gmail, but the amount that we pay for customer support feels reasonable when measured against what we pay.
But for a business selling software services to other businesses -- and a service that many price at the upper end of software in it's category -- you expect a better baseline level up customer support. Whereas once I considered it a Salesforce.com strength, I now consider is a rather significant question mark on the platform. Consider, in nearly ten years as a Salesforce customer, I've probably needed Salesforce customer support a total of four times. I'm at about once every three years or so. Does that justify a premier support charge?