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Q: Paying for Customer Support ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Paying for Customer Support
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: amyrob-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 10 May 2003 20:59 PDT
Expires: 09 Jun 2003 20:59 PDT
Question ID: 202216
What is the U.S. dollar market size for paid customer support?  Or
said another way, are people paying for 1-800 support or email support
or text chat customer support/service?  If yes, how much are they
paying and how big is this market opportunity in the U.S.?  I need
market statistics for paid customer support/service in the U.S.

Request for Question Clarification by cath-ga on 12 May 2003 12:39 PDT
Hi amyrob,

I'm making progress on your question and would like to understand one
thing better: are you talking about customer support in the
electronic business (software, computers, Internet) or in al
products: dishwashers, stoves, cars, clothes...?Thanks for
any specific direction you can give me. cath-ga

Request for Question Clarification by cath-ga on 12 May 2003 14:48 PDT
I'm going on the assumption you're talking about "tech support" for
software, computers, etc. I have so far found the number of people
employed in this work, the rate of growth, and the percentage of
this work that is PAID by the consumer. Do not yet have a dollar amount 
for the market size that I can obtain for free, but I can tell you where 
to buy it. Would the above information be acceptable for your answer?

Request for Question Clarification by cath-ga on 12 May 2003 16:34 PDT
I still have several e-mails and phone calls pending, so I
may get that dollar amount, but don't know yet...cath-ga

Clarification of Question by amyrob-ga on 12 May 2003 18:03 PDT
Hi - 

I am looking for overall paid customer support and by industry if
possible which would include tech support, financial services,
healthcare, consumer goods, retail, professional services (tax, legal,

Thank you!

Request for Question Clarification by cath-ga on 13 May 2003 11:14 PDT
thanks for the clarification. Unfortunately, it broadens the question
a huge size. Finding a rough approximation of "paid support" in the
IT sector is doable for $50. However, to lump together "customer
and "customer service" is, I believe, lumping together many separate
questions. The idea of paid customer support of hi-tech products is a
recent and
growing development. Paying for services in other industries: i.e.
healthcare, legal, and finance is a different matter. The service IS
the product, not
just supporting a product. In-house "customer service" in retail, yet
a different question, is traditionally free. Grouping all of these
together, and trying to tease out what part of it is paid seems a
little artificial. I'd like to give you the information I've gathered
on paid support in Information Technology. I don't know your goal in
seeking this information, and whether limiting it to that would be
satisfactory to you. Perhaps if I give you that information, you could
rephrase other, separate questions for an added fee. (see
the Google Answers pricing guidelines.) Sorry to make this more 
difficult, but the question is actually more wide-ranging than I first
realized. cath-ga

Clarification of Question by amyrob-ga on 13 May 2003 12:22 PDT
Hi - 

That would be fine to send me the info you have for the $50.00 and
then I can ask the bigger question later if I need to.

Thank you for all of your research and time on this.
Subject: Re: Paying for Customer Support
Answered By: cath-ga on 13 May 2003 14:46 PDT
Dear amyrob,

Thanks for agreeing to limit my response to Information Technology
paid support.

According to Jack Molisani, a high-tech writer in Northern California,
 “The high-tech industry in the United States spends billions of
a year staffing tech support departments.”  (This from the ASP
website, Association of Support Professionals.)


I spoke with Molisani, and he said he reached that figure by taking
the expenditures of one company and multiplying it. He says no one
knows the specific number.

The Department of Labor Statistics reports 

that in 2000 there were about 506,000 computer support specialists 
working in the United States. By 2008, the number of jobs is projected
to reach 869,000. 

I spoke with Carrie Higday, who is with the Marketing Group
of the Help Desk Institute, an association of customer support

Higday says that there was a sharp drop-off in employment two years
ago, and numbers will probably never reach what they were at that
high. But she says there is a strong recovery going on, and she
that growth in the industry is about 5-6% a year now, and for the near
future. She says there are approximately 1 to 1.5 million people
employed worldwide in tech support. 

Now for the paid aspect! I spoke with Ron Johnson, Director of 
Community Development for the SSPA, the Services and Support 
Professionals Association.

They are an umbrella organization for Services and Support

Johnson said he can’t share statistics with you about the size of
the customer support market unless you are a member of his
organization. But I pressed him for his gut feeling about what
proportion of tech support is paid, and he said “about 60%.”
So! 60% of say,  400,000 people is 240,000 working at "paid" customer
support. (Or, you can join the group and perhaps find out the dollar 

There is a research report called “Trends in Fee-Based
Services,” done by the Association of Service Professionals.
It may contain much of the info you are looking for. It is
free to members of the ASP, or you can order it for $60 

There’s another good-looking report on The Economics of Web Based
Support, also by ASP, which you can order at:

For an example of one company’s fee-based support charges, you
can go to at

Here are their charges:

Personal Support Options (U.S. Dollars)
Time Blocks	
Your Dime(You Pay LongDistance Charges)	Our Dime(We Pay Long Distance
1 Hour	65.00	  	130.00	  
2 Hours	130.00	  	195.00	  
3 Hours	195.00	  	260.00	  
4 Hours	260.00	  	325.00	  
5 Hours	325.00	  	390.00	  

The Aberdeen Group does research and Market Analysis in the
IT sector. They provide much of their research free if you
register on their website. Go to:
and you will find their research on CRM, the industry acronym for 
Customer Relationship Management.

While attempting to look at your larger question I found this:

“Customer Service Representatives held 1.9 million jobs in 2000, and 
projections are that this sector will grow faster than all others
through 2010.” Bureau of Labor Statistics. ( ).

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis is at

You can look there at figures for Gross Domestic Product by Industry,
however, there’s not a separate breakout for customer support.

I hope this sheds some light on your search for information. 
Before you rate this answer, please give me the chance to
clarify anything I’ve left unclear or incomplete.

Sincerely, cath-ga

Search Strategy on Google:

customer support market
paid customer support
technical support market
technical support dollars
customer service market
paid customer support

Phoned Aberdeen Group and left message for Margie Konig.


Phoned Gartner Group at 408-468-8000


IDC does market research. I phoned them at 508-935-4200.
They responded that “they only cover tech support, and
don’t give away their research for free.” 

Website is at

Elisabeth Allbright for the Help Desk Institute:

Website at
Subject: Re: Paying for Customer Support
From: neilzero-ga on 12 May 2003 07:35 PDT
I don't recall ever paying for customer support, and I think it would
be bad PR = public relations for most products and services. Typically
the pitch is our stuff is so user friendly; rarely is customer service
needed. As proof unlimited customer service is free! My wild guess is
rare exceptions total only one million dollars per year gross unless
you want to include engineering services such as a general contractor
might provide or where the government is the customer on cost plus
contracts. Would you consider buying an extended warenty = customer
support?  Neil

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