Firewall issues now account for upwards of 10% of all support all traffic to our help desk. Our point of sale software is often the victim of new firewalls installed or settings changes so our users call us to help navigate data access.
These calls fall into a grey area as they are not strictly about our software and therefore not covered by our support agreement. However, we take the calls and provide help without cost to our customers.
My estimate is we’re helping our customers save several hundred thousand dollars a year. Firewall providers charge for the calls we handle for free. A customer told me yesterday that they had been asked to pay $150.00 up front for a three minute single call. They were offered a lower rate if they took out an annual contract for over $1,000.00.
The cost of computer security for small business is rising. At present we are soaking up much of this cost for our customers but I’m not sure how much longer we will carry what is a 10% help desk cost blow out for us. One way we are trying to address this if to have all of our customers use common firewall software. This enables us to publish standards and facilitate more of a self help approach.