The value of web maintenance is often underestimated. But effective maintenance and support can be the differentiator that helps your organization achieve its business goals. Don't think so? Consider the scenario below.
Your organization is moving from traditional to smart. The past two months were hectic, as the new open source content management platform your organization adopted was being put together. Ten days ago it became fully functional.
The week before that was full of training and workshops for employee and management teams in order to enable a smooth migration to the new platform. A representative of the technical consultancy that enabled the move handheld the teams until four days after the launch. Now she’s gone, and trouble has begun.
Yesterday, a technical snag prevented new data from being synchronized to the secondary level. This meant the team had to upload fresh content on the primary level, and although the website announced its three-day sale, the details of the campaign were not reflected on the tablet and mobile apps.
The team tried to fix the problem in-house and failed; they then tried connecting with the tech consultants, who were not available at that hour. Since the content was important and sensitive, it's meant to generate customer interest and push sales during the festive season, the team resorted to manually updating the content for all the apps.
The result: the work planned for the second half of the day was jeopardized; the spillover affected the team’s efficiency, and also affected the milestones planned for today. The new employee orientation had to be postponed until the snag could be fixed because every update has to be prepped and customized at least thrice. So the extra hands available in this hour of need remain untrained.
Scenarios like these are all too common when the business value of web maintenance is not clearly defined. Standing at such a juncture, one can easily see why website maintenance is important.
Identifying website support bottlenecks
How do you know if your platform is not performing or has support issues? Here are nine signs:
1. Significant traffic, say 10,000 monthly visitors, but a low website conversion rate, ≤2%
2. Website DOM (Document Object Model) load time exceeds three seconds
3. Frequent error messages
4. Advertisements and campaigns aren’t generating a high average rate of return
5. Drop in customer engagement lately
6. Customers leaving items in their carts and not heading to the checkout
7. You’re finding it difficult to keep up with customer requests
8. Getting a lot of customer complaints
9. Spending more time troubleshooting issues and less time on strategy
Issues like these result in a host of losses: lost opportunity, lost work hours, loss of business, loss of motivation and loss of energy.
So what is the business value of web maintenance?
In the example earlier, the technical snag could have been addressed easily if you had a support team readily available and focused on providing timely and effective maintenance and support services. The sales generated and the number of new customers by the end of the day would have far outweighed any minor inconveniences caused by the issue.
What’s the business value of web maintenance and support services in such circumstances? Clearly, a lack of effective support translates into business goals that remain unmet—add to that lost opportunities, low employee satisfaction, poor customer satisfaction, as well as stress and anxiety for business owners.
To this day, we have a problem estimating the value of things. Value is rarely equivalent to cost. And this is especially true in the context of support.
We can measure the cost of support in terms of money, but the business value of support, and the return on investment (ROI) is easily misunderstood. On those great days when you don’t need to bother your support team, they seem redundant and expensive. Their true worth only becomes visible and measurable when there’s trouble.
According to a survey conducted by MetricNet in 2014, end user support comprises less than 5% of all IT spending. In the tussle between minimizing costs and optimizing price, the value of technical support in times of crisis is often ignored. But prudent organizations need to focus on effective maintenance and support strategies.
Support teams can add value to the business by ensuring success for end users:
- Platform performance is monitored constantly, and any issues can be spotted
- Handholding is available during the introduction of new features, enhancements, etc.
- All incidents are resolved within the shortest possible time
- Your employees have a high degree of confidence in the platform, increasing efficiency
- Customers develop a higher degree of trust in your brand
- Data stays secure
Support teams create value for the business by:
- Minimizing the total cost of ownership (TCO)
- Reducing the resolution time for issues
- Improving productivity for your employees as well as your end-users via timely service
- Performing a Root Cause Analysis after each issue is raised
- Reducing the number and frequency of tickets raised, ensuring fewer disruptions to business
- Reducing the effects of unplanned downtime through planning and prevention
Website maintenance returns high ROI
To quantify the value of web maintenance and support services and the corresponding ROI in support, here are three of the metrics to track:
1. First Level Resolution Rate (FLR), which is the ratio of the number of issues that could be resolved at the first level, and the total number of issues that could potentially be resolved at the first level
2. % Resolved Level 1 Capable (PRLC), which is the percentage of issues resolved by desktop support that could have been resolved at level 1 support.
3. Cost of Downtime, which is also the sum of productivity losses and business losses. When there’s an outage or a snag, some employees are slowed down or unable to work until the issue is fixed. This lost productivity may result in lost sales and customers, spoilage and shrinkage of products, and damage to business reputation.
What are the advantages of knowing the value of support?
Data shows that the more an enterprise spends on outage prevention and readiness, the lower will be the cost of unplanned downtime. The total cost of downtime includes the costs of prevention, readiness, downtime and recovery. And although it may sound like an added cost, in effect, investing in a great support team also helps improve your customer acquisition cost. This also contributes to customer lifetime value by avoiding variations regarding their use of your software. Anything else takes away from the user experience.
So now that you know the importance of web maintenance, how does this help you?
Greater productivity for in-house staff
Being aware of the criticality of support and investing in an experienced and capable team to be available 24/7 to deal with support issues means that platform failures will no longer disrupt the delivery of work for your in-house staff. You will not need your teams to forego their primary targets and responsibilities and pitch in to plug a hole.
Understand whether there’s a need to augment support teams
When you know the value of support, you are in a better position to consider both your organizational needs and the available resources for support, and judge whether your platform has grown beyond the scope of your existing support team. This would allow you to make more informed and holistic decisions around staff augmentation.
For example, if you know there are some website features that are absolutely critical to your business, but your internal support team is only available during business hours, you could make the decision to outsource website support and maintenance to a provider who has experts available round-the-clock. Understanding the importance of web maintenance allows you to identify issues that are highly critical, need to be resolved faster, or require domain or technology specific knowledge.
What happens if support value isn’t calculated?
Remember what happened to our online sales campaign? That was an unhappy end for such a promising campaign. Fortunately, most entrepreneurs and decision makers understand that if the value of web maintenance hasn’t been estimated:
Revenue takes a hit, since engagement and transactions on your platform fall. If support teams are viewed as profit centers and not cost centers, the performance of individual teams and the organization as a whole will improve on many levels.
Customers don’t feel like they can trust your brand. A great user experience helps establish trust in your company and products.
Organizations are unable to prioritize support needs effectively, which could mean that budgets are not being directed towards the most critical activities, eventually leading to revenue loss.
Does investing in maintenance and support services still feel like a waste of resources to you?
So why should you invest in website maintenance and support?
Or, we could ask, why have a website at all? The real value of support is the same as the value in having a website in the first place. Did you build your website to create awareness about your business? To showcase your expertise? Sell your product? Generate more leads and website conversions? Build a community?
When you don’t understand the importance of web maintenance and you don’t allow your end users to have good experiences, you fail in all of the above. No matter what your objective, without investing in good support, there is no way of ensuring that your website will ever achieve that intended outcome.
Effective support and maintenance services contribute to your customer success and the overall strategy of your business. It ensures that your website doesn’t result in a loss for the business, but is instead helping you generate the valuable leads and sponsorship your business needs to grow.
Nathan Roach, Director of Marketing
Germany-based consumer of old world wine and the written word. Offline you can find him spending time with his wife and daughter at festivities in the Rhineland.