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The Critical Unasked Question: Support

Welcome back to Answering the RFP where we help our agency partners provide clear answers during the website sales process. Because clear answers build trust, and trust wins clients.

There are many questions that come up in the website sales process, but sometimes it’s the questions not asked that need to be answered. And questions about website support are extremely important, but often unasked. 

Unlike other projects you may engage in, a website project is never completely done. Once a product brochure is printed and delivered the job’s complete. But a website requires continual maintenance and support. Even if you never change a single word on your website, it still requires updates because while the site may remain still, the technical environment surrounding the site is in constant flux. Server software versions change, underlying database technologies change, security requirements get updated, and so even if the website itself remains static, it still has to adapt to an ever changing environment.

But of course websites don’t typically remain static so they need both underlying technical support and client support. 

What’s more, a website is often the center around which other marketing and customer service programs revolve. So implementing integrations, connecting third party platforms, setting up marketing forms, and structuring automations will require ongoing service.

So while most RFP questions focus on the project of creating the website, they should also include information about how the site will be supported after the project’s completed.

In the case of HOLTER Strategic we differentiate between two kinds of support. Routine maintenance—updating plugins, checking security settings and such on a monthly basis, and requested support. We charge a flat monthly fee for the routine maintenance, but all other support we bill hourly on an as needed basis. Of course other web developers have different approaches to support: some charge higher flat fees which covers any incidental support requests. Others structure retainers for support. But we prefer to give our clients the flexibility of only paying for what they need, when they need it.

Another reason we structure our support this way is that clients often need help with other platforms that orbit the website but are not strictly connected to the site. For example, helping a client structure an email campaign, or to set up an automated funnel. When companies package support under one fee it creates an inverse incentive structure that limits support activities to just the things pertinent to the website and covered under the flat fee. It’s like insurance companies that aggressively deny charges based on strict guidelines about what is and is not covered in a premium. 

But a pay as you go structure has the opposite incentive. We, as the developer, are delighted to help clients that need our support and we get paid when that happens. But it also reassures the client that they are only paying for what they need. They don’t have to worry about overpaying, or underutilizing a retainer. This aligns a client’s needs with the use of support services when they need them. 

And this kind of flexibility is all the more important as technologies rapidly evolve to offer more and more capabilities. There’s great value in these technologies, but often clients miss them because the pace of progress is just too fast—the value gets lost in the noise. But a support partner, who can help match their needs with the best options, and help implement them, can ensure that the rapid growth of technology benefits the client. And a flexible billing model is an ideal way to ensure clients receive the maximum value from support.

If these kinds of RFP answers are helpful to you, please share, like, and subscribe to this channel. 

And until next time…

Be Clear. Build Trust. Win Clients.

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