On offering support for free
At FreshBooks, customer service and support are included for free. To us people are people – we don’t treat them differently if they pay us a monthly fee or not. Traditionally, software providers have charged extra for support and we think this is crap. Support is as valuable to us as it is to the people who reach out when they need help.
We never thought too much about our free service “policy” when we started. We just figured if someone needed help they should get it. Our customers, let’s call them the Fortune 50 million, are entrepreneurs. They are busy and they don’t want to spend their time meddling with their billing service. If a person calls, it’s probably our fault for not designing FreshBooks to be easy enough to use, so they deserve support.
For all the bean counters who see support as a cost center, think again. Telephone calls and email and the forums threads are research tools. Every person you connect with helps inform decisions about what’s working and what’s not, and gives you ideas about what to do next. In all seriousness, I would pay for this service.
So when people ask, “how can you afford to support free users?” I ask, “how can you afford not to?”