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The strange world of products psychology


A while ago my company started to offer Commercial Support for NHibernate. It seems like a complementary product to what we are already doing, but it actually had a few other reasons to want to do so.

Put simply, my pool of potential clients for the NHibernate Profiler are… NHibernate users. Anything that increases the pool of NHibernate’s users also increase the pool of potential clients for NH Prof.

The reason that we offer commercial support for NHibernate in the first place was to increase the trust people have with NHibernate. It reduce a barrier to entry, since if a company asks about the support options, they know that there are commercial support options out there.

With that in mind, I set out to design the pricing structure for the commercial support very carefully. One of the most important aspects of offering commercial support is that you want to have it behave just like insurance. For the most part, people need the support contract very rarely, and even if you end up spending three days working on a customer problem, that cost is amortized with other customers who did not call.

Knowing that, I explicitly added an Ad Hoc option for the commercial support offering for NHibernate. Ad Hoc support doesn’t really make a lot of sense, to tell you the truth. Not as a product, at least. It basically means that someone can call you, pay a fixed amount and then require potentially unlimited amount of time / effort. The reason that I did that is that having an Ad Hoc support option is a very compelling feature from the customer point of view. For precisely the same reason.

I was looking to make NHibernate itself more attractive with that offer, not to actually have a viable product.

Now, however, I feel that NHibernate no longer need the prop of the Ad Hoc support option, and thus it is no longer an option for our commercial support offering for NHibernate.


Published at DZone with permission of Ayende Rahien, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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