My professional life started in 1994 by doing software support for a small (7 people) IT company.
The company had a DOS program for insurance brokers. Most of their users were people who did not know much of computers.
Philippe hired me to offer free support to these people. Making his customers life as easy as possible helped the company a lot. We went from a 200 (or 300, I don’t remember anymore) customers to over 1400 customers in little over a year.
When I later started my own company in 1998, I decided I would take this to the extreme:

I offer Free Lifetime support on everything I do.

A few examples to show that I take this pretty serious:

Free support for

At ALE 2011 I did a lightning talk to challenge every consultant or consulting firm to do the same thing. If you support this idea, you can tag yourself with this tag at entaggle

As I love recursive things, I do give FLS to this post about FLS.
my SLA? I guarantee a reply in 48 hours. And usually it’s a lot faster then 24 hours.

And now it’s my turn to ask for help: Will you help me finding someone who wants to create a logo for FLS?

Oh and when I say LIFE, I mean mine, not yours. 😉








14 Responses to “FLS: Free Lifetime support”

  1. yhanoulle says:

    Eelco asked on twitter: what does that support mean?
    Great question; But not one I can answer on twitter.
    So I answer here.
    Free support does not mean I will go in and do 6 months of free consultancy. And my clients understand that. (I think)
    It means I answer e-mails, tweets, chats, phonecalls and help out. Usually people tell me about a situation and ask a question. More then once I reply with a lot more questions.
    From time to time my ego takes over and I write a withy reply on what they should do. That usually does not turn out to be my best help.
    Let’s face it, most people already know the answer to their own questions. They just need to listen to themselves.
    From time to time I recommend them a book.
    When I am not sure (read I have no clue what to do), I write a few ideas to not look completely stupid and I add another coach in CC. (Ok that’s not fair to myself. In a lot of times I add someone in CC, pair support another subset of pair-coaching.

    The second part of Eelco’s question was:
    “If you implemented agile, and in 5 years it erodes, will you fix it??”
    yes. I have a customer I helped more then 5 years ago to go agile. Multiple people on the team contact me from time to time on skype or e-mail. And I try to help in any way I can.
    There are people mailing me, that never paid me a penny for helping them. And I help them as much as the person that paid me 3 years of consultancy.
    Why?
    It a form of pay it forward
    When my parents house burned down, strangers helped us. Help that was needed.
    This is my way of paying it back.

  2. Without even realizing it I’m already taking advantage of your FLS for a couple of years now. It helped big time maturing our agile process. I do however advise people to once in a while invest in Yves’ crash course or retrospective (pair programming, retrospective, product owner coaching, …) as it really gives the boost you need.
    One question however. How will you make this scale? Many people with many tough questions out there ;).

  3. yhanoulle says:

    Hi Vincent,

    Great question.

    I have tho admit that scaling this, is part of why my worklife balance is hard.

    Let me give a few examples what I do about this:

    – I ask for help. By involving other people I scale out instead of scale up.
    – I ask questions. Asking a question usually goes quicker then giving a smart answer (and it’s better for my customer win-win)
    – Doing this prevents me from doing things I am not so good at, like cold calling people to sell my services. It also has the advantages that I don’t need to do any publicity. As from time to time these customers ask me to do paid work.

  4. yhanoulle says:

    It also works for me in another way:
    Sometimes I get an e-mail from someone with a question.
    For whatever reason I know the answer right away, I write an answer and send it. And 5 minutes after I send the answer I think, ough, that is exactly the problem I have at my current client and I did not know how to solve it.
    Now you know why I knew the answer. Internally I already knew the solution, but I did not see that.

    The interesting part is, because I was in the situation at the client, I did not see the solution. Once I was outside the box, it was easy…
    This is another way why offering free support helps me and all my clients.

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  11. Hi Yves,

    Just read about your FLS. Although not (yet) advertised as such, I do the same.

    As an example:
    After presentations and lectures where I explain about how to become predictable and more successful in much less time I usually ask people whether they want to get some coaching-on-a-distance, knowing that without coaching they will not succeed. The basic technique is described in http://www.malotaux.nl /booklets – booklet#2, chapter 6. However, a lot of the small but important details people have to (not) do to be more successful in much less time can only be explained when they actually do it, otherwise they don’t feel what I’m saying.

    If they accept, they have to commit to keep doing this for five weeks and I warn them that this will be very hard the first few weeks, but that after five weeks they probably will feel very comfortable about it.

    They commit first by handshake, then by sending in their plan for the first week. After a week they send in the plan for the 2nd week. I don’t accept that plan without first seeing an analysis of how they succeeded or not in the past week, what they learnt from that and based on that what they plan to have done by the end of the next week. After their analysis, the plan for the 2nd week is usually completely different from what they sent me before doing the analysis. We keep doing this for a few weeks and usually within some 5 weeks people feel the success and their efficiency improvement.

    You can see some comments from people who did this at http://www.malotaux.nl/?id=testimonials (@ Research Group Leader, Japanese students and Tester)

    I also work on a no-cure-no-pay basis, see http://www.malotaux.nl/?id=nocurenopay

    I assume that you do the same.

  12. yhanoulle says:

    Hi Niels,

    I personally don’t work with people who don’t offer FLS. (explicit or implicit) (And I strongly advice my clients the same.)

    It’s funny as No Cure, No Pay I do too, yet that is one I don’t advertise.
    Both are important ways of doing business, in an industry that needs more TRUST.

    Yves

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