2021 Support Demand Forecast
As we start the new year it is important to understand how demand for support will change. The overall IT industry is forecast to grow which will likely lead to increases in support demand. Changes in support demand for individual companies will be influenced less by macro-IT spending trends and more by company-specific initiatives to drive new sales and retain existing customers.
Support Demand 2020
From 2019 to 2020 overall support demand grew by 10.6% across the technology services industry despite a global pandemic and disruption to normal business operational practices. Not every company experienced growth during this period: 11% of companies indicated a contraction in demand and 27% reported no change.
For companies that report growing support demand, the increase is attributed to adding more customers (60%) followed by higher user adoption of product features (50%) and more proactive outreach by Support (41%). Companies that proactively engage customers and encourage product use and adoption will likely increase demand at a rate beyond what would normally be attributed only to adding more customers.
Change to Overall Support Demand 2019 to 2020
Higher Demand from More Proactive Engagement
Support Demand Forecast 2021 and Beyond
As we start the new year it is important to understand how demand for support will change. The overall IT industry is forecast to grow by 4% according to Gartner’s Worldwide IT Spending Forecast with some IT sectors stronger than others.
Growth of the IT sector will likely lead to increases in support demand; however, demand will vary by each individual company based on the strength of new product sales, the intensity of proactive customer engagement and retention activities and efforts to mitigate demand. The chart below suggests how support demand may change in the years ahead.
Support Demand Forecast
Factors that Influence Support Demand
The rise and fall of support demand can reflect both positive and negative performance indicators for companies. Rising support demand from increased sales are likely to be considered positive while lower support demand resulting from high churn is a negative indicator. Consider the following factors and their impact on support demand.
Factors that contribute to high growth in support demand include:
- Aggressive Sales and Marketing initiatives to bring on new customers.
- Changes to products that introduce more complex capabilities.
- Reduced product quality.
- Efforts to reduce churn and retain more customers.
- Initiatives to encourage customers to increase product adoption and use.
- Little to no effective efforts to prevent support demand or increase customer self-sufficiency.
Factors that contribute to sustained support demand include:
- Moderate growth in customer base.
- Initiatives to offset higher demand with efforts to reduce support demand through self-help, improved product quality and enhanced customer training.
Factors that contribute to a reduction in support demand include:
- Loss of customers (churn).
- Customer disengagement – own product but use less.
- Product performance and/or usability improvements.
- Efforts to build customer product proficiency.
- Effective self-help initiatives.
- Proactive and preventive care to reduce support issues.
Conclusion and Recommendations
It is essential to understand how support demand will change in the year ahead and to prepare to respond to customer needs. Factors that influence support demand may be tied to specific Support initiatives or originate beyond the control of Support within Sales, Success, Marketing or Product Development groups.
Consider the following recommendations:
- Establish a realistic forecast for new support demand based on Sales projections.
- Examine the product road map to identify any changes to the product that will increase customers’ need for assistance.
- Project the impact of Support and Customer Success initiatives that promote increased product use and adoption.
- Forecast the impact of customer churn and efforts to reduce or mitigate support demand through self-help and prevention initiatives.
Are you ready for 2021?
Are you ready for the challenges Support will face in the year ahead? Are you ready to capitalize on new opportunities? How will you scale and transform Support?
For insights about how support is changing and the opportunities and imperative for 2021 please review ServiceXRG’s latest study: Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics. This report examines current trends in Support delivery and offers tangible guidance for Support, Success and Service professionals to meet growing expectations of both customers and company executives.
Make a Plan to Scale and Transform Support
ServiceXRG provides coaching and guidance to help companies forecast support demand; develop strategies and initiatives to scale support and justify appropriate staffing and funding levels.