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Re: Informal support network



Michael Bravo <mbravo@kronverk.spb.su> writes:

> Hi there,
> 
> Jim> Initially, I think we just need a unified marketing message, a single
> Jim> web page, and a structure for referring incoming calls to the
> Jim> individual consultants.
> 
> Right.
> 
> Jim> Here's a little plan:
> 
> [plan skipped]
> 
> What I propose is to loan a bit of grandiose ideas from Bruce and try to
> integrate them back :)

Eventually...  I like to start things small.  :-)

> Your plan doesn't seem to imply that people could be 
> spread geographically AND internationally.

I meant to imply that.  I guess I didn't communicate it very well then.

> Also, for example, while I'm
> almost completely freelance, I have the advantage of sitting in an office
> so phone will be answered during any of local business hours.

Same here.

> Jim> * Build a list of Debian consultants willing to participate.
> 
> What attributes should be required? Let's build a small form for that (web-based?)

Initially, when we are trying to get something off the ground - I don't
think we need to be too picky at qualifications for the consultants.  I
believe the biggest qualification is just "patience", and a willingness
to be able to stick it out with the customer on the other end of the
phone/email until the problem is solved.

If this thing is to scale, we should have an arrangement where
inexperienced consultants can concentrate on 'hand-holding' types of
support - whereas the more experienced ones can work on higher-level
problem solving, or strategic planning types of jobs.

> Jim> * Set up a schedule - each consultant would have to inform everybody
> Jim>    when they are available to work - a week ahead of time.  They will
> Jim>    be required to set the time aside - ie. they must be able to handle
> Jim>    calls referred to them, or they will be kicked out.
> 
> This is going to be complicated, just as I noted above. Call handling is a
> tricky thing - can a specific call be treated on the phone? does it require 
> onsite presence? how fast? etc.

Initially, I imagine we would only be doing remote support.
Individual consultants could do onsite support, I suppose - but that
would be up to them (and not during the times they have allocated to
the co-op).

> Jim>    We should attempt to be fair in referring the calls, which I don't
> Jim>    anticipate will be a big problem to start.
> 
> We will need some sort of a map :) no use referring a call from USA to
> Brazil, or something like that.

Yes.  Doing international referrals might make sense in many cases -
ie. I can speak English - so I could handle calls/emails from England
and Australia - and from English speakers in other countries too.

I pay the following phone rates here (I'm using Sprint Canada):

  Canada    15 cents/minute
  USA       22 cents/minute
  UK        28 cents/minute
  Australia 54 cents/minute
  (they vary widely for other countries)

I imagine the phone rates very dramatically for the other consultants.
When using the phone, we ought to try to minimize the cost to the
client, so that may mean we call the client back.

I think a plan for doing referrals isn't easy to work out ahead of
time - it is really dependent on people's schedules, locations,
languages, phone costs, skillsets, etc.

That's why I think the schedule should be worked in advance.

Cheers,

 - Jim

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