A company’s product support model can be visualized as a funnel.
- At the top of the funnel is the self-service component, where you hope the majority of users can find their answers. Ideally, there’s a support portal that brings together documentation, KBs, FAQs, blogs, forums, videos, and tutorials, and provides an integrated search, and possibly some sort of interactive guided question-and-answer technology. In practice, most self-service sites are usually a loose collection of these different components, which rely on the user’s ability to define good search queries.
- Next in the funnel are forums and user communities, where you can get help from other users and, in some cases, from staff who monitor the communities.
- For a company like Autodesk, partners provide the next level of support (this is not so true for Softimage, but is true for most other Autodesk products).
- Finally, at the narrow end of the funnel, is the one-to-one support provided by people like me, the “technical specialists” (I’m not sure why, but I loathe that title).
Now, the funnel analogy is not “correct” in the literal sense. In a real funnel, everything that comes in eventually flows through the bottom of the funnel. In the support funnel model, the number of customers decreases as you move down the funnel. A more accurate diagram of the support model would be a sankey diagram, which shows the proportionate number of customers served by each level of support: