Here at twoppy we very much value customer support, and so do our clients. It is an important and free part of our customer focussed philosophy. I see a lot of companies charging for support. And sometimes I suspect it as a part of their business model: "make your product as complicated as possible, with the promise of all the bells and whistles a customer might need (and actually never use). Then line up a huge customer service and training apparatus which justifies the complex nature and immense value of your product and charge the life out of the customer".
All jokes aside, for me customer service is a huge opportunity to learn from and connect with one of your most valuable resources: your customer base. Every client conversation helps you to understand your customer needs, your market and therefore your own products and services a little bit more. Let me share with you 3 reasons why you should consider never to charge for customer support.
1 Customers are a reality check
If your customers don't 'get' your product, it might be too complicated. Or are you suggesting that your customers are stupid .... ? Providing customer support for free forces you to keep your products and services customer focussed. Repeatingly getting the same question should be a strong signal to analyse and probably improve that issue, rather than seeing it as a revenue opportunity.
2 Customer support is relatively cheap market research
Your customers are the people that actually use your product and you can learn a lot from them. With a solid customer base you have the resources to conduct ongoing market research with every customer interaction. In it's essence every question a customer has about your product may lead to improvement of the product or service. In fact customers often provide the best insights on how to make your product more valuable.
3 Customer support is a long term investment
Charging for customer support in the end may proof penny wise pound foolish. While looking at it short term, customer support looks like an interesting direct revenue source, in the long term it will not add value to your product or services and therefore your company. By charging for support you create a natural barrier towards customers. Instead of inviting them to help you build your company, your message is: our time is more important than your feedback. Especially as a startup this might be killing for your business.
So I see great customer support as an asset. If your customer support is awesome, you're most probably guaranteed to surpass customer expectations and produce fans. Your ever improving great product will generate tons of revenues. So why not challenge yourself to stay customer focussed by not charging for customer support?