Automation is the key to support SLAs
If you want to grow recurring revenue by providing SLAs for your Drupal projects, automation is THE key to offering a reliable response time. Of course, you could build a dedicated 24/7 support team, but the cost will be exorbitant. There are many tools out there for digitizing your support and automating some of the processes.
Automation will save you resources and simultaneously prevent mistakes. Nevertheless, at some points along the support process, there should be people in contact with your client. Support is also a kind of marketing that you get paid for! That's why a well-defined support concept is the key to success.
Zendesk is one of the most popular support systems out there. You can automate messages and run customer surveys for quality assurance. It also helps your support team members keep track of issues, so tickets don’t get forgotten. It just structures your support business nicely! There are also some plugins to alert your team if issues are overdue. This helps you uphold your promised response times. We use ERPAL for Service Providers with some rules extensions to implement these features. If you want a free, Drupal-based solution, ERPAL for Service Providers is the right choice.
It's much better to have developers already working on a broken site before the customer calls! Use monitoring tools such as newrelic or pingdom to monitor the availability of your Drupal app. New relic helps with the analysis of bugs, slow queries and other application issues.
Scaling the server infrastructure isn’t easy but very powerful. Building a scalable platform yourself is not something I would recommend: there are many other hosting platforms out there, such as Acquia cloud, Pantheon, freistilbox (managed Drupal hosting in Germany), and Platform.sh. I recommend using one of these providers, as their services are much more reliable than any homemade infrastructure.
Security update automation
Providing Drupal core and contrib updates in time can be challenging. If this isn’t automated and integrated with the overall development workflow, you’ll struggle with the same issues as when you have your developers do support: right in the middle of working on a complex project, they need to switch hats and apply updates. I know, developers really hate it! Respecting patches, proper branching, updating test instances, notifying clients to test and finally deploying the update – it’s so annoying.
And your team members can never be quick enough when it comes to critical security updates (which might even come during the night). But to solve just these problems and enable you to provide more reliable support SLAs, Drop Guard was born! Drop Guard processes Drupal updates automatically once you set up your projects. And Drop Guard works with the same workflows as your team members would use, if they applied the updates manually.
All these systems are valuable tools that can help you to provide reliable and profitable Drupal support services. They have several APIs that allow you to integrate apps with each other. This will also automate cross-app workflows, saving your team lots of time and providing the data where it’s needed.
What is your experience with providing Drupal support services? You are welcome to share your experience in the comments.