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Glossary » customer support

customer support

sometimes “tech support”; assistance provided to a user after the purchase of software to solve problems with the product, such as bugs, installation problems, data recovery, usability problems, and so forth. This support is often available through a hot line, bulletin board, or mailing list. Customer support can be a significant cost to the software manufacturer that is significantly affected by the usability of the product.

Customer support is help provided to a customer (a user) to help resolve difficulties in using a system, usually in the form of a human answering questions over the phone. Customer support personnel can provide substantially more relevant and useful help to a user than a help system can, but a common problem is being confused about the state of the computer the user is using, so various ways to communicate the current system state and error codes to customer support help them to isolate problems.

Improving the usability of an application will usually reduce the use of customer support and thus save customer support costs (except where customer support is a profit center, in which case, the incentive is to decrease usability, but this is obviously a nasty cycle you don’t want to get into).

Some customer support can be provided automatically to reduce costs, such as including help within the application, providing support information on your website, or using automated telephone-answering systems and fax-back services to provide relevant help.