24/7 Website Support. Mandatory or Myth?
24/7 is a standard sales pitch these days. You can get nearly anything you want 24 hours a day. You can get a meal, a pair of socks, dog food, or a shed for your backyard. If you can’t walk into a store and buy it, you can find online. Add to cart, click to buy now, with free 2-day shipping. Anytime. Anywhere.
Retailers have led the way here, and now, many services are also offering 24/7 options of their own. Sounds great right?
Many would argue that it’s a sign of the times, something that makes you competitive. It’s standard fare, and anyone without it is just not even trying. I’d agree that 24/7 is a necessity to be competitive or deliver on some services out there now. I’d disagree that it’s necessary or even reasonable for everyone to be supplying it.
Features vs. Benefits.
A feature is a characteristic that a product or service has.
A benefit is a characteristic that a product or service has that brings value to you.
Feature shopping is the new standard. Any purchase now begs the question ‘What am I getting for my money?’ The longer the list of features, the better. Right?
My car has a feature for driving in snow, but I live on the gulf coast, so it’s not much of a benefit. It was part of the impressively long list of things auto-dealers list on the window sticker but not ultimately why I purchased the car.
I own a crockpot that has a delay timer on it, so my food doesn’t overcook if I’m gone longer than anticipated during the day. That is a great benefit to me, and why I paid a little more for it than a traditional one.
Just because I got something extra with my purchase doesn’t mean it was useful. Consumers are subject to marketing hype now more than ever. Marketing is a science and the broader application of particular methods, like cramming features into services or products, causes us to think they are right and standard.
Do you really need 24/7 Support from your Website Maintenance company?
Since this 24-hour support availability is listed as a feature so it must be a good thing. Your Website is incredibly essential to you, and you want to be able to ask for help anytime there is a mission-critical issue. Even if that means asking for help at 2 AM. Moreover, the maintenance company is happy to sell it to you! This feature bags yet another customer.
This scenario is common and not wrong. If getting help any time of day is a benefit to you, then you’ve nailed your goal and can move on to other productive things. Bravo, you!
You just purchased peace of mind by having a human there to fix your problems any time of day. However, what if I told you that this was a feature disguised as a benefit?
Let’s zoom out.
There are scenarios where your website software is so complicated, and your usage patterns may indeed require round the clock support, but these are few. Sometimes feature lists can blind us to reality. We perceived a feature as a benefit that solves a problem (or perceived problem), so we think “Problem solved!”. However, what if that feature is blinding us to a more significant issue?
Consider that your Website could (should!) operate without the issues. Is the code old, convoluted? Would you benefit from having it cleaned up and eliminating the need for having to wake up at 2 AM to call anyone?
What about hosting? Hosting is where the round the clock service should be demanded and is a real benefit. They want to answer the phone in the middle of the night as much as you want to call them. They have a vested interest in making sure the platform is secure and stable.
We often get asked during sales calls whether we offer 24-7 support, and the answer is always no. Our first order of business upon taking on any new client is to do a thorough assessment to make sure that things are running smoothly and correctly. Our updates processes safeguard against pushing live updates that wreck the existing sites until a human can troubleshoot and understand the issue.
We don’t offer 24-7 support because we don’t need to. You shouldn’t have to expect it as a rule from any maintenance and support agency if you are investing in a reliable infrastructure and ongoing best practices. There are indeed scenarios where this is a real need, but they are less common than you may think.