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Internal: Support Disputes

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Situations can arise in which a customer may dispute a technical support invoice. All efforts should be made to resolve any support billing disputes within the Customer Service Department. It is worth noting that with these calls, the goal is to recover payment. Our mission is to be fair to both the user and Thomson Reuters while maintaining a good business relationship.

Handling support disputes in the early stages

There are number of things than can be done that may resolve a support dispute in the early stages. Follow the steps below:

  1. Verify:
    • The product for which support was provided was not within a free support period.  
    • The product for which support was provided was not under a support contract.
    • That it is a product with billable support.

    Note: See Overview of Support Terms Contracts for additional information about support terms and free support periods.

  2. Review:
    • Call notes: who made the call, the product covered and give the cliff notes version of the call. They may remember the call and end the dispute here.
    • Are there any call notes giving any indication that the call is non-billable? For example, was the call due to a bug or was the assistance provide more along the lines of Customer Service or Sales?
    • Was there any commitment by another representative for action on the call that may have been missed, such as an agreement to post-date a Support Contract or extend the support period?
    • Explain the criteria for billable and non-billable calls. Many times providing a copy of this document and a summary of the call notes will take care of the situation. Support Billing guidelines can be sent to external users via email through the Marketing Email Library (MEL), the external pdf can be viewed here.
    • Examine the support billing history and consider: have there been regular requests for billing reviews? Have many Goodwill Credits (CRGs) been issued previously? This analysis may result in the decision to draw the line at this point, explaining to that exceptions with support bills were extended in the past and now no longer can be. Use your best judgement here.

Call notes are internal notes only and cannot be given out to external users. A general overview can only be provided to the firm if requested.

Resources to review support billing and contacts

The following resources are found in EMS (with the exception of the Support Call report), and are useful in determining if the billing was correct.

Financial Activity Screen (Applications > Finance > Financial Activity)

Support Billing Detail

Support Contract Screen (Firm Demographics > Support Contract Button)

Support call report

Guidelines for issuing goodwill credits

There are going to be cases when issuing a Goodwill credit (CRG) is an appropriate action. The following are some guidelines used to make this decision.

Common concerns for support invoices

Calls are charged for the time spent researching and responding to the communication. We bill based on the time, and not the resolution of the call.

Explain the support policy; the maintenance fee gives them the right to access support and the latest program update(s). We charge firms fairly for their use of paid support.

  • The free support period begins 60 days from the date the software order was processed. The support period is not dependent on when it was loaded or the when finance agreement was paid off.
  • If separate arrangements were made at the time of sale, the Sales Representative is responsible for communicating the update to the Order Processing Team.

If the call is not clear on the cause of the problem and the user insists it was a ‘bug’ in the program the call can be escalated to become a support review. Follow the Support Dispute Guidelines for entering a review. There may also have been communication from Support that a certain issue that can be duplicated was found. When this is the case, a credit can be entered

Review the contact list with the user and also explain that the contact list is controlled by the firm and have them update as needed. Reviewing the call notes may also help the user remember the call, and explain the possibility that the wrong name was used for the call.

Check sales call notes carefully. If there is verification that the support dates should be extended, Accounts Receivable (AR) can adjust the billing. If call notes do not reflect what the user is saying, explain you have no such information and engage the Sales Representative in the conversation

If the contact was made in the current month, let the user know the charges for each call won’t be billed until the following month. For example, the charges for March do not go into the system until the April Statement is available, usually the beginning of the month. Let the user know when the information they need will be available.

If they don't think they should be billed, review the situation and treat it as if the invoice has been generated. If credit is ultimately determined to be the best option, keep an open ticket and provide a credit when the invoice is available.

If necessary, you can stop a technical support bill from being generated. Use the following steps to make the call non-billable during the month the call was made.

  1. Open a new instance of Flash and change the working department to Product Support.
  2. Find the firm ID in Flash and click Firm Tickets under the Call / tickets section.
  3. Locate the call in dispute by clicking the call record and click the Edit button.
  4. In the Category drop down list, select Cust Service and click Apply edit. This will change how the call is coded in Flash and will prevent an invoice from being generated.
  5. Change the working department back to Customer Services to continue doing Customer Service work in Flash.