Dr Spock once opined that the needs of the many should reliably outweigh the needs of the few.
I'm not sure if Swiftpage had this Spockian principal in mind when they recently decided to prioritize product development over technical support, but it would make sense if they did.
The truth is only a small minority of Act! users ever call Swiftpage for support, while virtually all users benefit from a better quality Act! product. That minority shrinks further when you count those working with an Act! Consultant, which currently comprises about 55% of worldwide Act! subscribers.
If spending priorities are going to made, let it be for the many.
The other motivating factor behind this policy change is that support expectations have frankly gotten out of hand over the years. From the early days of Act! subscription, Swiftpage has slowly over time been extending the technical scope of service they were providing free with subscription, to the point where there was little practical difference between free and paid support. Some of our staff are former Swiftpage tech support employees, and they tell stories of them providing database repairs, as well as troubleshooting customer's Windows, SQL, and even network environment all under warranty, with service sessions ranging from hours to days. It was nuts.
To make matters worse, not only did this wildly out-of-scope technical service come at considerable cost to Swiftpage, it was often thankless work. Customers would blame them for any issues arising from them changing security or operating system settings, and Act! Consultants would complain Swiftpage support staff were encroaching on their traditional areas of service. There was no winning!
Pottery Barn Rule
I also subscribe to the Pottery Barn principal - "you break it, you own it". Well if tech support staff are being asked to fix a customer's computer issues, and by doing so they run the risk of "owning" their problem, it is reasonable that this service be billable. In what other industry would there an expectation of risk without reward?
All things considered, a correction in the scope of service was required, and long overdue.
I know this may not be a popular point of view with those faced with paying for service they were accustomed to getting for free, but I think given the laudable change in Swiftpage priorities, I believe a correction in both support scope and customer expectations are in order. After all, if the extra development staff leads to a better quality Act! product, it stands to reason fewer people will have need for support.
Dr Spock might even suggest, "there is much logic in this".