Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Customer Support Panel Follow Up Interview with support.com

As a recent participant of the CONNECTIONS Summit at CES, support.com responds to panel follow up questions.

What additional features or services will you be looking to implement?


We currently offer a service that helps consumers create and implement a custom back-up plan. As part of this, we leverage industry leading 3rd party data backup solutions.

Premium technology services for smartphones is an area that we have researched and are keeping an eye on.

We have looked into the feasibility of providing premium technology services for a wide variety other household devices. We focus on devices that can be remotely accessed over the Internet.

As you push into international markets, what do you see as key opportunities and challenges?
While there are similarities in the market opportunity for premium technology services (according to our research in major European countries and existing partnerships), there are significant differences in particular the ability to efficiently provide service in multiple languages and labor costs in European markets.

As you look to partner with more players, what do you see as their key needs?


Retailers need a way to cost-effectively ramp a program while keeping capital expenditures and people-costs in line and find higher margin initiatives

Service providers?

Service providers need a way to extend subscription relationships with their customers. In addition they would like to address out of scope calls for their customers in a manner that increases ARPU and CSAT (reducing churn)


OEMs are looking at ways to reduce return rates and improve the margins for their core offerings.

For remote PC services, we’ve heard that labor costs are a big issue. How do you address this?

We employ a distributed solutions center approach with work-from-home employees. This allows us to keep costs low while providing the best possible service. We will always need to be innovative in labor delivery models.

What are the key requirements for remote access solutions (Bomgar, Citrix, LogMeIn, etc.)?

We deliver turnkey premium technology services differentiated by our proprietary remote access and service delivery solutions. We in-house develop those elements core to delivering a differentiated service experience and leverage third party solutions when required (for example, the phone system).

While remote support services were initially offered in a “pay by use” structure, many of you offer subscriptions services for support.

a. Which is currently more popular, pay by use or subscription services?

Since we launched subscriptions in November we are seeing a mix of both incident-based and subscription sales, and believe both have a role to play in meeting customer needs.

b. Is the popularity of subscription services increasing, decreasing or staying flat?

We have seen a steady level of interest in subscription offers since we launched our offering in November.

c. An immediate problem is clearly the motivator for consumers to pay for “pay by use” support services. What are the primary motivators for consumers to sign up for subscription services? Cost savings? Peace of mind? Preventative? Other?
There are two key trigger points – a debilitating problem (such as a virus) and the purchase of a new PC, printer or home network. The primary motivator for turning that event into a subscription relationship is belief on the consumer’s part that they’ll need the service again – and a subscription will be less expensive over time.

d. What is the best way you have found to sell subscription services?
There is no single “best way”. Existing customers that have had a previous positive experience are a good source for subscription services…..our customers kept asking for them. However, we are also finding that many new customers are opting for a subscription at the time of initial purchase.

When offering remote support services, how sensitive are consumers to security issues and what do you do to offer consumers security protection?
We have not experienced consumer concerns in this area because we are a public company and have a long history of expertise in remote support technology.

What are the most frequent consumer IT problems addressed through remote services?

The single most frequent consumer IT problems are related to virus & spyware infections, followed by PC performance issues and general application failures.

What is the current split of support services being deployed between: computing device and applications vs. entertainment device and applications? How do you expect that balance to change over the next year or five years?

Computing devices / applications (including home networks / printers) is the overwhelming majority of remote technology services today. Gaming consoles and dedicated entertainment devices (such as DVRs) have limited or no remote support access and that is not likely to change in the near future. More likely is a remote support increase for netbooks followed by smartphones.

What integration have you achieved (if any) with device manufacturers to help with specific device support services?

We have not needed to do any device-specific integrations to-date in order to deliver a wide range of technology services.

Are device manufacturers turning to dedicated support service providers to off load some of their service and support calls? If so, what is the economic model look like?

Some device manufacturers have paid and limited support offerings, other have tried broader paid support offerings and/or are partnering with remote support providers in a referral model.

What information from the consumer network or devices (that is currently unavailable or difficult to access) would significantly help in improving remote service capability?

Dedicated entertainment devices (gaming consoles, DVRs) provide little or no diagnostic information, or remote access capability. This is the most significant gap in the home network today for remote service.

What are the biggest barriers of adoption for remote service support in consumer households today (perceived or real)?
The biggest barrier is convincing consumers that there is something better than free tech support – that you can call a technology service provider, pay for a service, have a good experience and get value for money.

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