Five years is a short period of time. Think for a moment how you ran your business in 2006. How much time did you spend in front of your computer or smart device using web technology to manage your business? Unless you were writing code for a living, you didn't spend much time at all. Fast forward to 2011. What a difference. Can you think of a time in your life when things changed so much in such a short period of time? I sure can't.
One needs look no further than the advent of social networking to measure the importance of the web to our daily lives. Add the availability of cloud-based applications as well as the use of video to communicate important messages to your audience and it's very obvious that things have changed. In 2006, most of the applications I worked with had to be loaded onto my machine from a disc. Updates were a real pita. Today, like so many of us, I've migrated to cloud based apps that require no time to update because they are always up to date. I can easily see a time when we won't need boxes loaded with software and data files. We'll only need access to the Web.
Along with this change comes the need for support. The more we use our web-based apps, the smarter we become at using them. Just the same, support is critical, even priceless. Called "software as a service" or SaaS, web-based software companies are faced with not only writing and constantly updating their code, but they are also tasked to develop and deploy creative ways to support their often technically challenged customers.
iPlayerHD is a Saas company that delivers video hosting and publishing services to its global customer base. Our customers require support, mostly in the early stages of the relationship. We reach out to every customer within hours, if not minutes, of the time they sign up for a trial account. Do you remember the Maytag commercials where the installation man delivers the appliance, installs it and then goes back to his shop where the phone never rings because his product is so good? That's the goal of every company with a web-based app. At iPlayerHD, it's a goal we're proud to have attained. However, while our customers call for support very infrequently, it is very important to them that they can call or email if and when they do need support.
While we cannot expect live or email support from the free app providers like YouTube, Facebook or Twitter - we do expect support from those providers to whom we send our hard-earned cash.
There is another benefit to providing live support and that's the connection made with the customer. At iPlayerHD, and I suspect at every successful SaaS company, making that connection and listening to our audience has played a vital role in the the development of a product that is relevant and successful.
Customers vote with their pockets. Companies that provide excellent support keep their customers. Companies that fail to provide good support fail to keep their customers.
Some things don't change.