Sunday, October 7, 2012

Flexible Support Options

Quite some years ago, I worked at a company that has long since vanished from the technology landscape. I loved working there, but it occasionally made strange marketing and internal administration decisions that drove me nuts. To cope, I often wrote parodies of the policies, mailings, and whatnot and posted them on my office door. In retrospect, I suspect the kinds of issues I had were completely generic to the computer industry, and so I have friends who may find some of these issues are relevant even today.

Here's one of them that came up in response to a bundle of several support options the company offered for one of our products when really we only had one guy—named Dan—who was on the other end of all that support, no matter how many different ways the support was offered. In writing this, I followed the basic structure of the actual marketing press release, making adjustments as seemed necessary to make the text read in a way that I felt was more accurate. You can probably guess how it originally read:

A Broad Range of Dan Options Now Available for OurBigProduct

OurBigProduct’s Adaptable Customer Services (DAN), the Cool Technology Group’s new support program, has been expanded especially for you, the adaptable customer. These new products compound the service requirements of the increasingly sophisticated product claims made by OurBigProduct. Through the combination of enhanced service claims and promises, you have increased flexibility in your decisions about how to feed our revenue stream.

Full Dan is the complete OurBigProduct software support offering designed to ensure that you are always at the leading edge of OurBigProduct technology. Full Dan includes Dan’s phone number, Dan’s home address, and a picture of Dan so you can spot him on the street and ask him questions. Each participant in this service option is entitled to Dan’s full-time cooperation on any project you undertake.

Basic Dan is a lower priced service option designed to help chintzy OurBigProduct customers keep whatever money they can scrape up coming our way without our having to do anything specific.

Right-To-Copy (RTC) Dan, designed for sites with big bucks, gives you the opportunity to make the most of your revenue-providing capabilities by providing us with lots of bucks even if you don’t want to take personal advantage of Dan. RTC Service permits you to make unlimited copies of Dan, as well as his associated software, hardware, and documentation.

Separate Service is for experienced OurBigProduct customers who see through the above options and want an itemized bill. Available services include software updates and enhancements if they happen, subscriptions to the OurBigProduct Newsletter, telephone and on-site visits from Dan, and Dan’s training seminars.

Perhaps if he'd gotten overwhelmed, we might have added more people rather than just letting him drown, but at the time it seemed outrageous to me. Plus I was younger then, and not terribly patient with or forgiving of things that didn't work as I personally wished they would.

Also, I'd probably be safe using the real name of the company and product, but I don't want to create any embarrassment for anyone so I've changed the names to protect everyone's happy memories. If you know who this is about, please don't volunteer the information. I think it's enough just to look back and smile, perhaps even to learn, from the safety of historical distance.

Author's Note: If you got value from this post, please “Share” it.

Originally published October 7, 2012 at Open Salon, where I wrote under my own name, Kent Pitman.

Tags (from Open Salon): technology, corporate politics, internal politics, parody, satire, humor, marketing, sales, support, staffing, support options, technical support, coping, dan, history, software, support contract, pricing, support pricing, support pricing options

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