How to Avoid Any Post-Launch Jitters with a Support Agreement
Over the past couple of years, I’ve been Digital Echidna’s support manager and have worked with a large number of clients as part of their post-launch processes and ongoing maintenance. One of the most exciting things about this job is that, on a day-to-day basis, you never know what you’re going to get.
Thanks to that experience -- and as I transition into a project co-ordination role (don’t worry, you’re in great hands with Jon Clemens!) I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on how to get the most out of your customer support relationships!
Next week, I’ll share my thoughts on how to effectively manage support and, in many ways, plan for the unplannable. But today, I thought I’d start with what I feel is your best foundational tool for long-term confidence -- the support agreement.
What’s a Support Agreement?
Our support program has really developed over the past few years. As the company’s grown, we’ve recognized the need to change and improve our processes and structure, prioritizing those activities that ensure our clients get the highest-possible quality of service that they need to keep up with an ever-changing on-line environment.
That’s where Support Agreements come in. These are agreements between a company (Echidna) and a client that outlines what the post-launch relationship is going to entail. What level of service can be expected? What are the response times? What’s included?
It’s kind of like a vehicle’s warranty and care program. At Echidna, we offer a variety of options under our EchidnaCare Package, which can be customized to meet your needs, and can be augmented with pre-purchased maintenance hours. And, just like with your car, you can choose to do a lot of the work yourself, or choose a package that lets us ensure that everything under the hood is running smoothly!
Our Support Agreements cover items including, but not limited to:
- Pre-purchased service hours;
- Warranty and hacking protection;
- Guaranteed response time and work prioritization; and
- Proactive updates (modules and security)
Knowing what you’re getting can help you with peace of mind, so I’ll take a few moments to explain what each of these items are:
Pre-Purchased Hours - Buying Certainty
We offer certain support levels the opportunity to pre-purchase blocks of maintenance hours. It may seem like an upsell, but in my experience having those hours “in the bank” often pay off well beyond the initial investment.
Sure, for smaller sites, this may not be something that you want and need. But for larger, more complex sites -- and that’s really the nature of much of what we do here at Echidna -- those pre-purchased hours become invaluable. Not only does this give you flexibility when you’re wanting to implement new ideas or work processes, but they also help you move through the queue quicker. Having these hours available means quicker approvals for needed work -- you don’t have to dip into a separate budget, or get ancillary funds approved.
And, at Digital Echidna, we diligently track these hours and share them with our clients. We believe this is a must for any company, as it helps to provide a real-time tracking list of requests, which can be useful in managing the direction of your site, and it ensures that you understand where your time is being used.
Hacking Protection - Skynet is Real!
One of the most common issues we encounter is spam and attempted hacking of sites. While it can be difficult to narrow down exactly why someone is trying to hack your site, the inconvenience and fear it can cause is real.
While we work to install security parameters when building a site, there are always going to be people out there who want to disrupt sites. With our Support Agreements we offer hacking protection -- that means we will work to increase security measures on the site should they be needed. Again, this is just added peace of mind for our clients.
We have many clients who either require or desire increased priority and response time. This is generally reliant upon the services they provide and how issues on the site may affect their users.
With our Support Agreements, we offer response times based on your level of support, up to and including one-hour responsiveness. This helps to ensure that issues are dealt with in a timely manner and minimizes the time that users are affected by any issues.
Proactive Security Updates
Drupal is an open-source technology. As a result, that means that modules and security patches are always being worked on, submitted, and updated. These updates are maintained by a robust community with documentation and feedback around updates and their development.
At certain Support Agreement levels, you can choose Proactive Updates, which means we will review and implement updates on an agreed upon schedule. This keeps the site functionationing at its highest level -- which can be very important for security purposes as well as for the day to day functioning of the site.
Is a Support Agreement Right for You?
Post-launch, we turn the keys to your site over to you. You can do all the maintenance and upkeep yourself. And some of our clients do -- they have robust internal teams that are familiar with their site and confident in their work. It’s no different than those people who buy a car and are confident in doing the work themselves (and I say this as someone who has replaced my own brakes!)
However, many of our clients appreciate having Support Agreements as an important tool in maintaining their sites. Our levels have been developed though our experience, which has helped us turn Support Agreements into functioning agreements that we believe cover the most common requests received for sites.
After all, while you can’t predict the unexpected, you can plan for it.