Archive for the ‘Support’ Category



by Kaj Kandler

According to the latest Consumer Reports Tech support Survey (subscription required), independent technical support is better than the offers by manufacturers.

While manufacturers’ free support on average were able to resolve only 53% of issues, the same organizations increased their hits to 59%, when paid. Notable exceptions where Apple (80%) and Lenovo (80%), the former IBM Consumer PCs. However the support services affiliated with major retail chains did solve 84% of issues and other independent tech support organizations solved 93% of tickets. Independent and paid services were also more responsive to pick up the phone and had more knowledgeable staff.

Lets speculate, this could be a phenomenon of “I get what I’m paying for” and users of paid services are more satisfied than if it is for free. On the other hand this could be a real observation that independent tech support is better and more qualified.

I guess there are multiple effects in play. First, an independent shop can’t point the finger to some culprit outside of their jurisdiction. It is so common that the hardware manufacturer blames the OS and the OS blames the application and the application blames the driver from the hardware manufacturer. If you are independent you need to focus on solutions and not on blame.

Also, if you are paid by incident, you need to pick up the phone before the customer walks away, resulting in faster response times. In addition, if the client needs to pay for every incident, he will only bring up the really important issues, cutting down on perceived issues that a customer might have. Some folks have the attitude, “lets ask, it doesn’t cost me any extra” and in reality they ask the impossible. It would be interesting to filter out from the survey the group of people that has used both, manufacturers and independent tech support. These answers would be the best to decide who is better. For the moment I’ll give independent the benefit of the doubt and the survey results. I guess if you need to compete for each incident, you got to deliver some value.



by Kaj Kandler

On November 14th, Conficio (my company) released "Plan-B™ for" a support website for non-technical users. The release is a public beta test and a major milestone in our work.

In our press release titled "Plan-B™ for – The innovative support service for non-technical users – starts public beta test" we write:

Plan-B™ for is the first website that creates a comprehensive documentation of the application suite based on visual instructions. Kaj Kandler, founder of Conficio, is convinced "Non-technical users learn better with visual instructions like short videos." He says, "We are very excited to offer this new technology to the fast growing user base of, the free open source office suite. Plan-B™ for especially benefits users who migrate from other office suites." This service, with its easy to understand help topics, supports the on demand needs of users at all levels of expertise.

I’d like to encourage all my readers to check out this new service. I’d appreciate if you would leave a comment on this blog or send me a message through the feedback on every page that contains a screencast.

Expect me to explain the various features and benefits in the next few weeks on this blog.

And by all means, register at Plan-B for if you find the service helpful.



by Kaj Kandler

Scott Carpenter published a rather sad satire about “5 ways to save on your monthly software rental bill in the year 2056“.

Scott looks into the rear view mirror at current trends of monetizing software not with an up-front one time license but with a monthly or annual license fee. Well, as many of us know, commercial software does not really have a one-time fee anyhow. After a number of years the pressure to upgrade to the new version becomes so strong that there is no escaping. Did you know that Microsoft’s assisted support for Outlook 98 ended on January 16, 2004. This is barely five years after inception and not atypical.

So enjoy Scott carpenter’s satire and see the grain of truth he is conveying.



by Kaj Kandler

This years winners of the “Best Web Support Sites 2006” are


  1. Dell
  2. HP CPO
  3. Juniper
  4. Lucent
  5. McAfee
  6. Microsoft
  7. Reuters
  8. RM


  1. Made2Manage
  2. think3

The contest is held annually by The Association of Support Professionals (ASP), through a survey among their members. It is quite remarkable how the list changes from year to year.

The ASP also added two new companies, Microsoft and think3, to the Hall of Fame of support web sites for making the ten best four times.

Congratulations to the winners!



by Kaj Kandler

I love to help people with their computers. I also love to solve problems.

The current state of computer ‘online’ help is a problem. Wouldn’t you agree? Users have given up on using the help-menu in software applications. The typical complain goes:

1) I can’t find what I’m looking for!

2) If I find something, I have a hard time understanding the prose!

I set out to solve this problem by creating visual help.