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Get the service and support you need from software vendors

When you're shopping around for new software, you can save yourself a lot of time and frustration by evaluating each vendor's customer support before making a purchase. Use this checklist to make sure that the vendor's service philosophy matches with your needs.

Market Analysis

Get the service and support you need from software vendors
When considering a software purchase, one of the most important — and often overlooked areas — is customer support. The best way to understand a vendor's commitment to its customers is to examine its service and support practices and policies. Understanding a vendor's service philosophy provides a view into what the ongoing experience with the vendor will be like. Companies need to be sure that the vendor has practices and procedures in place to proactively support customers, and to provide them with information or fixes quickly, sometimes even before the customer may know they need the fix.

The following checklist will tell you what to look for — and what to be wary of — when making a software purchase:

Do look for:

  • 24x7 availability, in multiple languages
  • Communication methods such as Web, e-mail, and self-service, not just telephone
  • Vendor sponsored "sense of community" (more than just a user group)
  • Bulletin boards, chat rooms, download sites
  • Opt in subscriptions to problem/fix announcements
  • Procedural question support outside of consulting engagements
  • Timely problem resolution
  • Meaningful published support targets with a high attainment level

Watch out for:

  • Restricted support hours or languages
  • Different response standards for telephone vs. Web entered cases
  • Procedural/educational issues always result in a consulting engagement
  • Unhappy or nonexistent user groups
  • Vendor attempts to keep users apart
  • No procedure for proactively notifying customers of problems
  • Lack of published performance targets, goals, and attainment — which may be hiding meaningless statistics

Copyright 2002 Hurwitz Group Inc. This article is excerpted from TrendWatch, a weekly publication of Hurwitz Group Inc. - an analyst, research, and consulting firm. To register for a free email subscription, click here.

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