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I'm trying to find out what are the standard service/tech-support response times that are expected of a software vendor. We're being asked by a customer to enter into an agreement regarding technical support for a software application that we're selling.

Basically, I'm interested in the typical turn-around time (i.e. time to respond, time to resolution) based on the severity of the issue. And also, I'm interested in the financial structure of such agreements: i.e. charge/incident, bundle with unlimited incidents/customer etc.

Any information or suggestions of where to find such information (even examples of other software vendors websites) would be greatly appreciated!

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closed as not a real question by sysadmin1138 Jan 15 '12 at 3:37

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This is really more of an open-ended discussion according to the FAQs...just saying. –  TheCleaner Feb 12 '10 at 3:02
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4 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Where I work, we sell our own software and resell another Major vendor's software. Our maintenance plans include updates/upgrades to the software and support for any problems that users didn't cause. The cost of the maintenance plan is usually 20 to 30% of the initial cost per year. So a $1000 program might cost $250 per year for maintenance.

If users have problems we bill them for support in 15 minute increments. If it's something particularly simple, they usually get off free. Each 15 minutes is $25. If it's going to take more than approximately 2 hours, we quote them and get a Statement of Work (SoW) before starting in on the issue (typically these are problems where the customer will need to upgrade).

For response times, we try our best to get back to everything within 4 hours. But we guarantee two working days. 99% of the time we meet the 4 hour turnaround. Time to Solution is based entirely on what the problem is. Difficult problems may take a day or two, especially if we have to farm questions out to that Major vendor.

This sort of arrangement is very typical based on my experience with other software vendors.

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As part of your customer agreement, you'll want to define severity levels for support tickets. Some examples would be critical (systems down, no workaround available), high (product operation is impaired, no workaround available), medium (product operation impaired, workaround available), low (non-critical, request for enhancement or question about product).

Based on the severity define target response time (when your team will respond to the customer), target for escalation to engineering (when your support team will pull in engineering resources) and target resolution time (when your engineering team will have a fix).

You could have something like:

Severity | Target response time | Target development escalation | Target resolution

critical | 2 hours | 8 business hours | action plan in 1 day

high | 4 hours | 2 business days | 7 business days

medium | 8 hours | 7 business days | 15 business days

Then you'll want to include some words that these are targets and not a guarantee.

There are lots of factors in setting up this type of agreement. Are you providing 24*7 support or business hours? Is the customer in the same time zone with you if you're providing only business hours support? Do you have the infrastructure and staffing in place to provide 24*7 if needed? Is the deal big enough to warrant the extra work it entails?

If you're a VAR for this software rather than developing it, you'll want to consider what SLA the actual software provider is giving you. If you have to escalate an issue to them, you don't want the customer expecting an answer faster than you can get it from the provider.

I've seen support pricing calculated on the price of the software itself in the case of enterprise software.

Here's an example SLA from Microsoft http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc543293.aspx

The good news is that once you've sorted this out for the first customer, you'll have it in your hip pocket when needed for subsequent sales.

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I think this is pretty much impossible to answer in a general sense. The response will vary wildly depending on which software package, vendor, or level of agreement you are talking about. Some support agreements mean you can file a ticket in to their bug tracking system and hope that it gets resolved one day, others will send an engineer down to your office to fix your bug for you alongside your team members within a day. Without knowing more about your specific case and the expected SLA it's hard to provide any concrete examples.

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I realise you're asking for typical times but it's difficult to answer this in a meaningful way because we all have different software and support arrangements.

The company I currently work for only has such an arrangement with one software vendor and we expect them to be working on a problem within one hour. Resolution time depends on the complexity of the issue but is essentially ASAP. The actual time can vary between minutes and days.

In my previous place of employment we had a similar situation but with a vastly different agreement. Initial response was to be within one working day. Resolution could take from hours to months.

As you can see, there is vast variance.

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