What Types of Support Services Do You Offer – Technical Support, Consulting, Training?

Clearly defining the types of support services you offer – technical support, IT support, consulting, or training – is critical to the success of your business

support, technical support, training, consultingAs a QuickBooks 3rd party developer or Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, what types of support services do you offer your customers or clients – technical support, IT Support, consulting, or training?  Do you have a clearly defined support policy which defines free vs. paid support and what is included?

The term “support” can mean many things to many people, as I’ve found out over the years, it’s a very broad term and can be very confusing because each person that you talk with can have their own definition of what they consider to be support.  Be sure that you clearly define what you offer in terms of support and what is included as well as what you provide free of charge and what will require payment.

Let’s take a look at some standard Widipedia definitions:

  • Technical Support – Application Support or Technical support (also known as tech support) is a range of services providing assistance with technology products such as mobile phones, televisions, computers, software products or other electronic or mechanical goods.  In general, technical support services attempt to help the user solve specific problems with a product – rather than provide training, customization, or other support services. Most companies offer technical support for the products they sell, either freely available of for a fee.
  • IT Support or Consulting – Information technology consulting (also called IT consulting, computer consultancy, technology consulting business and technology services or IT advisory) is a field that focuses on advising businesses on how best to use information technology to meet their business objectives.  In addition to providing advise, IT consultancies often estimate, manage, implement, deploy, and administer IT systems on businesses’ behalf, known as outsourcing.  IT professionals perform a variety of functions that ranges from installing software applications to designing complex computer networks and information databases.
  • Consulting –  A consultant (from Latin: consultare “to discuss”) is a professional who provides professional or expert advice in a particular area such as management, accountancy, the environment, entertainment, technology, law (tax law in particular) etc.  Consulting, therefore, is providing advice in a particular area of expertise and clients may purchase only as much service from the consultant as needed.  Consulting is not the same as Customer Service.
  • Training – The term training refers to the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge that relates to specific useful competencies.  Training is TASK oriented and means T –> Training, A –>Attitude, S –>Skill, and K –>Knowledge.  Training is teaching someone how to do something.

As a ProAdvisor, much of what we offer is consulting and training; offered at a billable hourly rate or perhaps offered in blocks of time for a set fee – it’s much easier for us to define what we do and do not provide or do.  When we run into trouble, we can obtain free support and training simply by picking up the phone and calling Intuit ProAdvisor support or watch free webinars provided by Intuit.

Software Developers, on the other hand have a much tougher time defining the types of services that we provide.  We are expected to provide technical support not only for the products that we develop but also for other products as well {QuickBooks and Microsoft}, IT support {such as networking and computer setup}, Consulting, and training {not only for our software but QuickBooks as well}.  When we run into trouble we have no one that we can call for free assistance, but rather must rely on Support forums or purchase a support incident.

What are your thoughts on support?  Do you have a clearly defined support policy?  What’s free vs what’s paid?  Are you conveying this clearly to your clients?