How Much Should You Charge for Support?

Setting the correct price for your support programs begins with a baseline understanding of what your market will bear but ultimately the price must be based on the type and level and entitlements offered.

Average Support Program Price

The average prices for support programs range from 15.6 percent for a basic level of support to more than 26 percent for a high-end premium program.  Prices vary based on the entitlements offered and the ways that pricing is structured.  Here are a few considerations:

Net vs. List

Pricing may be based on the percent of a products’ list price or the net price after discounts.

Add-on’s and Fixed Fees

Some support programs consists of a fee tied to the percent of product list or net price plus add-ons.  Add-ons are often associated with optional entitlements such as named support resources such as designated support engineers and/or account managers.

Adjustment Fees

The price of support in the first year is often not the price a customer will pay in subsequent years.  Support prices typically include annual adjustment fees to account for inflationary factors.

Pricing by Support Program Tiers

Support pricing is typically established by program level or tier.  It is not uncommon for support portfolios to consist of two or more tiers with names like Silver, Gold and Platinum.  Although support programs may sound alike, they often vary from vendor to vendor.  For the purposes of establishing baseline pricing benchmarks ServiceXRG has normalized support programs into the four distinct tiers described below.  Classification is based on the underlying program entitlements and not on the program names.

Support Program Tier Classifications

Average Support Program Price

Establishing Support Prices

The price of support must be set at a level sufficient to cover delivery costs, yet not too high to discourage customers from buying.   Customers are likely to have preconceived ideas about what support should cost based on experiences they have with working with other technology vendors.  If your “gold” support is priced at 23% of product list price but other vendors are priced at 18%, customers may perceive that your prices are too high even though you offer more for the price. 

It is imperative that you price support reasonably so that you can make a compelling case that the benefits outweigh the costs to the customer.

Making the Case for Services

Selling services demands that you establish a credible and compelling value proposition built upon the entitlements customers want and need from services balanced with a reasonable and justifiable price level.

Featured: Selling Service Value

Selling services demands that you establish a credible and compelling value proposition. To be compelling, the benefits must exceed the cost. This playbook describes the essential steps to develop a compelling value proposition to maximize support sales and renewal activities. Log-in to get your copy.

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Related Articles

How Much Should You Charge for Support?

The average prices for support programs range from 15.6 percent for a basic level of support to more than 26 percent for a high-end premium offer. Setting the correct price for your support programs begins with a baseline understanding of what your market will bear but ultimately the price must be based on the type and level and entitlements offered. This article offers guidelines for setting the right price for your support programs.

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Should you charge for support?

If you want to make money from support, you need to charge for it and most technology companies do. The majority (89.7%) of technology companies offer some form of fee based support option.

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Bad Attach? Is There Such a Thing?

If you only care about the first-year revenue from support and maintenance contracts, then any attach is a good attach. If you want to maximize revenue from the support annuity , then contract attach followed by a successful renewal is essential.

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Is it worth competing for Service Industry Awards?

There are a plethora of industry awards and recognition opportunities to provide a means to get recognized for your service initiatives. Is it worth your effort to pursue industry recognition though these awards – here are some of the pros and cons.

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Do You Need SLAs?

Every technical support organization should have service level guidelines as a basis for determining how to prioritize cases and allocate resources and for managing consistent expectations with customers. Introducing service level agreements with committed performance levels is only required when customers demand them, or it is necessary for competitive differentiation.

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Should you charge for support?

If you want to make money from support, you need to charge for it and most technology companies do.

Should you charge for support?

The majority (89.7%) of technology companies offer some form of fee-based support option. Not all support programs are the same – some are extensive with many choices for the customers to select while others are limited in scope. Fee based support options are not always presented to the customer as a choice. In some cases, the support fee may be bundled within the product price or included as a compulsory first year option. Very few companies offer free support.

The starting point for this discussion is that Support should be sold. A well-defined support offering is far too valuable for both customers and the company offering it. For customers, support is a means to gain access to the expertise they need to help them apply the product to its fullest potential. For the product vendor, good support it too costly to give away and the financial benefits of the ongoing annuity are too attractive to not pursue.

Sell Support Unless:

  • Your product or service is so simple there is no reason a customer would need assistance.
  • Your market is so competitive that introducing fee-based support would create a significant competitive disadvantage.
  • Your product is used at a time or in a way that there is no practical way to deliver support.

Related Articles

How Much Should You Charge for Support?

The average prices for support programs range from 15.6 percent for a basic level of support to more than 26 percent for a high-end premium offer. Setting the correct price for your support programs begins with a baseline understanding of what your market will bear but ultimately the price must be based on the type and level and entitlements offered. This article offers guidelines for setting the right price for your support programs.

read more

Should you charge for support?

If you want to make money from support, you need to charge for it and most technology companies do. The majority (89.7%) of technology companies offer some form of fee based support option.

read more

Making the Case – Overcoming Customer Objections to Buying Services

A credible value proposition based on what customers need and want from Services is the best way to overcome customer objections to buying services.

Making the Case for Services

Customers want the products they purchase to work.  Many understand that technology is inherently complex and access to expertise and periodic updates are worth the investment.  This is particularly true if a product is considered business critical. Some customers conclude that they need Services on their own, many do not however and need to be convinced.

Selling the value of service is making the case for why the customer is better off with service than without.  Selling services demands that you establish a credible and compelling value proposition built upon the understanding of what customers want and need from services.

Top Reasons Customers Use Services

Customers that purchase services are most likely to use them to adopt and use products effectively and not simply to fix problems. 

The value of services must therefore emphasize Services’ ability to provide tools and resources to help customers implement, learn and use product effectively.  A complete and compelling value proposition must also recognize that if product issues do arise, services are available to respond quickly.

Top Reasons Customers Use Services

Most Important Attributes of Service

The services characteristics customers want most are access to expertise when they need it. They expect service organizations to be available during reasonable hours and to be responsive to requests for help.  As noted above, access to technical expertise is not simply about fixing issues, it must also be used to provide training and coaching to help customers apply products more effectively. 

Most Important Attributes of Service

Featured: Selling Service Value

Selling services demands that you establish a credible and compelling value proposition. To be compelling, the benefits must be perceived to exceed the cost. This playbook describes the essential steps to develop a compelling value proposition to maximize support sales and renewal activities.

This Playbook is FREE – Log-in to get your copy.

Login to Access the Full Report

If you don’t have an account, create a free* membership.

Login

*Membership level determines your access to ServiceXRG research and other member services. Paid memberships include access to research and playbooks. Free memberships include access to some reports and discounts to others. Please visit our membership page for a list of available membership programs.

Related Articles

How Much Should You Charge for Support?

The average prices for support programs range from 15.6 percent for a basic level of support to more than 26 percent for a high-end premium offer. Setting the correct price for your support programs begins with a baseline understanding of what your market will bear but ultimately the price must be based on the type and level and entitlements offered. This article offers guidelines for setting the right price for your support programs.

read more

Should you charge for support?

If you want to make money from support, you need to charge for it and most technology companies do. The majority (89.7%) of technology companies offer some form of fee based support option.

read more

The problem with organizational silos

Organizational silos create barriers to customer success by inhibiting the levels of coordination and cooperation necessary to retain and grow customer relationships. The hand off from one department to the next creates gaps between expectations set and how they are met.

Distinct organizations may also be motivated to achieve different and possibly conflicting outcomes. Most importantly the lack of coordination between departments inhibits the ability to fully understand customer needs and to act on them. Efforts to add success mangers, onboarding teams, or renewal and expansion sales roles are stopgap measures to address some of the inefficiencies of siloed post-sales organizations. These stopgap efforts are not enough.

The bottom line is that post-sales coordination and cooperation is the key to customer retention and relationship revenue growth and provides opportunities to achieve greater staffing efficiencies. If you cannot achieve the necessary level of inter-department cooperation it’s time to restructure and remove these silos.

Featured: The Transformation of The Service Organization

ServiceXRG examines the current state of service organizations and the forces at work that are driving organizational transformation. This study reveals how the isolated service silos of the past need to evolve into unified entities to drive Customer Success.

Login to Access the Full Report

If you don’t have an account, create a free* membership.

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*Membership level determines your access to ServiceXRG research and other member services. Paid memberships include access to research and playbooks. Free memberships include access to some reports and discounts to others. Please visit our membership page for a list of available membership programs.

Related Articles

The problem with organizational silos

Organizational silos create barriers to customer success by inhibiting the levels of coordination and cooperation necessary to retain and grow customer relationships. The hand off from one department to the next creates gaps between expectations set and how they are met. This study reveals how the isolated sales and service silos of the past can evolve to drive Customer Success.

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Understanding the Differences Between Technical Support and Customer Success

As we look to embrace Customer Success it is imperative that we have a shared understanding about what Customer Success is and is not. All too often we find examples of Customer Success initiatives that involve little more than changing the name of the Support department or adding a few new roles to focus on success-related activities.

Every step towards a Customer Success-oriented approach is positive, but if we truly want to pursue Customer Success, we need to understand what it is and why it is different from traditional Technical Support models.

The Journey to Customer Success

The term Customer Success seems to permeate the technology industry with nearly every company engaged in some type of success initiative.  The focus and awareness of Customer Success is timely and refreshing.  I don’t mean to imply that technology companies have not been focused on making customers successful in the past, but this emphasis on Customer Success creates a new level of awareness and commitment to truly impacting customers’ ability to derive benefits from technology.  Customer Success has profound implications for the ways that companies engage, serve, and retain customers.

Customer Success – Functions vs. Philosophy

It is important to distinguish between customer success-focused activities (functions) and Customer Success as operating model (philosophy).  Support and many customer-facing departments have been engaged in success-focused practices long before we started labeling them as Customer Success.  Today, perhaps we label too many things as Customer Success.

By instituting Customer Success functions (onboarding, driving adoption, customer health indexing, success management, etc.)  within Support, we do not necessarily achieve a customer success-focused way of conducting business. True Customer Success requires transformation and cooperation across many departments and introduces new ways to define and measure business performance.

The Customer Success – Spectrum

We need to recognize that there are variations of Customer Success. Customer Success has specific functions, roles, and ways of conducting business.  If you embrace one or even a few customer-success focused activities, or have roles with Customer Success in the title, it does not mean that you have fully embraced Customer Success. I have defined three distinct stages in the “success – spectrum.”  See the descriptions and comparisons below to determine where you are in your journey to Customer Success.

Technical Support

Traditional Technical Support functions focused on issue resolution and answering how-to questions primarily in response to customer questions.

Success Enable Support

Introduction of success-focused roles such as Customer Success Managers and adoption of success practices such as onboarding, health assessments, journey mapping and success planning. Introduction of proactive customer engagement.

Customer Success

Cross-functional cooperation or organizational alignment primarily focused on customer engagement and proactive service delivery. Primary business objective is to retain and grow relationship value.

Technical Support – A Cornerstone of the Customer Relationship

Technical Support is a practice that seems to be as old as the technology industry itself.  For many companies the Support department is the primary interface with customers after the initial sale.  The mission of Support is to be there for the customer when they needed help, but not necessarily to engage customers proactively to assure that they can use and apply their applications.  Once again, this is not to suggest that companies or Support organizations are not committed to helping customers succeed – some of the most committed and customer-centric people in the technology industry can be found within Support.  The fact is that traditional Support organizations typically do not have a mandate nor the resources to fully drive Customer Success outcomes.

Success Enabled Support – A Hybrid Approach

Somewhere between a traditional Technical Support organization and a full-fledge Customer Success initiative is a hybrid model that introduces success-focused practices and resources into Support. Success Enabled Support include success-focused roles such as customer success managers, onboarding and adoption specialists, and retention, renewal and upsell experts. Practices include formal onboarding, efforts to drive adoption and plans to define and drive successful outcomes (success plans and journey maps).

These success-focused resources and activities are a quantum leap towards Customer Success. Yet, they are often contained within siloed organizational structures or lack full organizational commitment and governance to truly drive an enterprise-wide coordination to maximize retention and relationship growth.

Customer Success – A Business Model

Customer Success is a strategy to maximize customer retention and create opportunities for revenue expansion within the customer base. It is not simply an organizational structure, function, process, team, or job description – Customer Success is a customer engagement and retention philosophy. It should be seen as a way of doing business that transcends all aspects of a company from the way it develops products to the way it sustains and expands customer relationships.

Customer Success is predicated on the understanding that a significant portion of revenue and growth comes from existing customer relationships and that for technology vendors to grow relationship value their customers must be able to apply and succeed with the products they have purchased.

Customer Success is a critical methodology for companies that depend on recurring revenues from license, maintenance, and other service subscriptions.  Customer Success is not however just for companies that sell products as-a-Service.  Companies that sell perpetual software licenses, equipment and devices can benefit from Customer Success to drive product adoption and to assure maintenance contract renewals.

Technical Support vs. Customer Success – Key Differences

The following table highlights some of the key distinctions between traditional Technical Support, Success Enabled Support, and all-in Customer Success business models.

 

Technical Support

Success Enabled Support

Customer Success

Primary Objective

Resolve product-related issues, answer “how-to” questions.

Help customers adopt and succeed with products.

Cross-functional approach to engaging, retaining, and expanding customer relationship value by helping customers to use and succeed with products.

Target Audience

Customers that are entitled to and request Support through warranty or service contract.

Targeted segments of the customer base (e.g. top tier accounts or customers that purchase a specific product or service type).

Customers that purchase renewable products and services, and/or buy specific success plans.

Entitlement Program

Support portfolio.

Success plan or add-on.

Success plan, add-on, or included with product purchase.

Monetization

Support fees.

Add-on fees for customer success programs.

Success program fees and subsidies from product revenue, retention, and growth.

Organizational Model

Stand-alone Technical Support organization.

Distinct team of customer success-focused resources within Support department. Some coordination and cooperation with other customer facing teams.

Cooperation across functional roles (Sales, Professional Services, Education, Support) organized by matrix or reporting structure.

Primary Functions

Cases resolution.

Onboarding, drive adoption, success planning, customer health monitoring, retention.

Onboarding, drive adoption, success planning, customer health monitoring, retention, revenue expansion.

Success Metrics

Time to Resolve (TTR), First Contact Resolution (FCR), Cost per case, Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer satisfaction.

Process execution: Rate of adoption, success plan execution, retention, renewal rates.

Customer retention, revenue growth rate (Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) / Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR), renewal, growth)

Service Levels

Service levels and terms defined by support contract.

Defined by success plan terms or triggering events (e.g. customer health).

Ongoing touch points throughout the relationship or triggering events (e.g. customer health).

Service Delivery

Reactive, customer initiated.

Proactive, often triggered by customer milestones or events.

Proactive, often triggered by customer milestones or events.

Retention

Emphasis on contract renewal, typically the responsibility of another group.

Emphasis on recurring revenue renewal, guided by CSM team, booking often responsibility of another group.

Emphasis on recurring revenue renewal, coordinated by cross-functional success team equally accountable for retention/renewal/growth.

Growth

Possible add-on upsell, typically the responsibility of other group.

Opportunity identification because of customer engagement. Booking often responsibility of another group.

Opportunity identification because of customer engagement. Cross-functional success team equally accountable for retention and growth.

The Journey to Customer Success

The journey to Customer Success may not require the full transformation to an entirely new way of conducting business, organizing resources, or measuring business performance.  Adopting some success-focus activities and creating success roles may be adequate for your business.  For companies that depend upon recurring revenues, customer retention and relationship growth are paramount, and a true Customer Success operating mode is an effective strategy.  Be honest about where you are in your journey and what approach to Customer Success is appropriate to your business.  Be careful not to overstate where you are in your journey if you have farther to go.

Featured: The Journey to Customer Success

The journey from Technical Support to Customer Success requires more than a name change or the addition of a team of Customer Success Managers. To fully embrace Customer Success, Support must rethink its role and adopt new ways to engage, retain and grow customer relationships. This Playbook provides a guided journey across four key milestones to help you define essential Customer Success capabilities.

This Playbook is FREE – Register or Log-in to download your copy.

Login to Access the Full Report

If you don’t have an account, create a free* membership.

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*Membership level determines your access to ServiceXRG research and other member services. Paid memberships include access to research and playbooks. Free memberships include access to some reports and discounts to others. Please visit our membership page for a list of available membership programs.

Related Articles

The problem with organizational silos

Organizational silos create barriers to customer success by inhibiting the levels of coordination and cooperation necessary to retain and grow customer relationships. The hand off from one department to the next creates gaps between expectations set and how they are met. This study reveals how the isolated sales and service silos of the past can evolve to drive Customer Success.

read more

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