It would seem that Microsoft still has not recognized it is in the customer service business. Instead it continues to drive the Microsoft experience through its software, cloud computing, and “consulting services” as revenue generators.
Now $49 for an hour of personalized web-based online interactive training is an unreasonable rate. Many of the Microsoft Cloud Service Subscriptions should include personalized web base online interactive training and chat and/or audio services included. However, Microsoft needs to delineate its levels of technical support using an industry standard. Rates will differ for on-site support and interactive online web support services.
But let us just focus on the typical Microsoft’s Answer Desk scenario of phone and web support services. Microsoft needs to offer Tier-1, Tier-2, and Tier-3 support services and associated rates. I would find a rate of $55/hr for Tier-1 support acceptable. If the problem needs to be escalated to Tier-2 support then $75/hr would be an acceptable rate. It the problem needs to be escalated to Tier-3 support then $95/hr would be an acceptable rate. However, I have a caveat for the escalation process. If problem identification needs to be escalated to the next higher tier-level than the charges for that tier which did not identify the problem is forfeited by Microsoft and the next Tier’s clock and rate goes into effect when the problem is escalated.
Microsoft could avoid this customer service complexity by offering annual customer service subscriptions like HP’s Care Pack Support Services Agreements. Reasonable subscription rates could be offered for 1-year, 2-year, or 3-year plans. The multi-year plans could be discounted as Microsoft would collect the subscription fee for a plan up front. These plans would define the level of services offered and the escalation criteria for raising an incident to the next higher tier of support when efforts to solve or identify the problem fail in any given tier. The criteria for determining the level of tier services should include the nature of the problem and/or a time limit for each tier for problem identification and resolution. Once the problem is identified then it would either be resolved in the tier that identified it or the solution to the problem may need to be escalated to the appropriate tier service level of support for resolution.
I believe Customer Technical Support Service Plans are a definite win-win for both Microsoft and its customers. It is clean, neat, and straight forward with the emphasis on solving the customer’s service problems. Microsoft could even bundle many of its Software Suites with its Window’s Technical Support Service Plans making it even more attractive to those customers who have a few or several Microsoft Software Suite configurations. Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate; Windows Home Server 2011; Windows HPC Server 2008; Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008; and Windows 7/8 smart phone support could be bundled with Microsoft Office (and its many software components), Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Visio, Microsoft Project, Microsoft Live Essentials, Microsoft Live, Microsoft Live Mail, Microsoft Office Live, Windows Live SkyDrive, Windows Live Mesh, Windows Azure Platform, Microsoft Visual Studio, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Active Directory Server, etc.
Microsoft Cloud Service subscriptions should have built-in Customer Service Support provisions to include online web technical service with a minimum of chat support but ultimately full audio and video conferencing support for personal online training services and technical tier support services with escalation provisions to solve customer service problems.
Microsoft could also provide service bundles to include third-party hardware and software partners such as Adobe, Symantec Corporation, McAfee, Intel, AMD, HP, IBM, Toshiba Computers, Lenovo Computers, Dell Computers, ASUSTek Computer Inc., Acer Computers, Gateway Computers, Advanced Micro Devices ATI Technologies Inc., NVIDIA, Logitech, Linksys by Cisco Systems, ViewSonic, Samsung, Vizio, LG Electronics USA, etc. Microsoft could also consider extending bundling support for ISP providers, broadband, and mobile and smart phone service providers.
What this all boils down to is to have Microsoft offer true Service-Level Agreements for there Windows software, cloud computing, and “consulting services“.
Does anyone have any alternative or additional suggestions?