This morning I was party to an interesting discussion – in a company’s identity materials and website, what does ‘full-service’ imply? Is it a term that’s just used way too often and without a lot of thought? Is it valuable, or just trite?

One of the people at the meeting was of the opinion that the term ‘full-service’ has been used so often that it’s often meaningless. That is, people say it but don’t necessarily do it.

In terms of techie fields, like web development and IT, saying that you’re full-service could mean many different things. Some at the table agreed that it’s better to get to the point – don’t offer a dry laundry list of everything you do (because that’s not really possible or advisable) but do boil down the most important functions you provide in a well-thought-out shortlist.

If you just say ‘full-service’ you’re putting the burden of understanding what exactly that might entail in your company’s case on the client. You’re making assumptions about what they know about your field.

On the other hand, I’m thinking something just the opposite. That if you do provide a shortlist of the services you offer – and you’re a geek and your clients are most often not – you’re not really throwing the ball in their court. If they don’t understand a word you’ve written, are they inclined to seek out your company, or are they inclined to think that you’re soaring above them with tech-speak already and go elsewhere?

I think for fields that people often find intimidating, like IT and web work, saying ‘I’m a full-service company’ implies that you can handle whatever a client needs. This may not always be the case so I think you have to really think about it before you slap a ‘full-service’ label on your brochure, but if I were a client that knew nothing about websites and how they worked and what they were good for, I’d be more inclined to go with a developer who said they were full-service rather than one that listed all of their skills one by one.

It seems to be a fine line between turning people off and offering far more than you reasonably can achieve (unless of course you’re a real company and not a freelancer!). Perhaps a short synopsis of the top three or four ways you help clients, rather than a list of the services you offer or simply saying ‘I’m full-service,’ might be the better way to go.

The reason this interested me is that I’m relaunching my website this week, and on my announcement postcard I of course had the term ‘full-service.’ I rethought that today and instead made it a sentence stating a few key points about what I offer. I’m not opposed to styling myself as full-service by any means, but this seemed more focused and I want to appear focused as I start this rebranding process.

I built a new computer last month, and downloaded a trial copy of Homesite (which I’ve been using for many years) thinking that it would have a link where I could register it using my serial number.

Nope.

The trial expired this morning, and gave me no options except buying the product (which I’ve already done) or contacting tech support.

I called tech support – this was a mistake. I went through three people – the first kept telling me I was trying to reinstall CS2, which I wasn’t. He asked me what Homesite was. I explained that it was web editing software, like Dreamweaver only text-based. He promptly transferred me to a Dreamweaver tech who had never heard of Homesite.

This tech transferred me to another person who, again, had never heard of Homesite and didn’t know that Adobe owns it now. He put me on hold and when he came back, got my number and told me to expect a call back within the hour.

They called back in about 50 minutes, and informed me that I needed to talk to customer service. They transferred me.

I have now just gotten off the phone with customer service. Here’s what I found out:

  • Adobe has the record of my purchase in their files
  • I have a credit card receipt to verify the purchase
  • I have a live serial number for the copy from my old computer.

I was on the phone with the last guy for 50 minutes (including a lot of hold time), and he will not give me a link to an install file because he says I was shipped a CD and didn’t receive the software in a download – which I did. I’ve never gotten any CD’s from Adobe for anything except CS2.

So he’s ‘escalated it to his senior support team and they will try to get back to me in 1-2 weeks.’

I explained (pretty calmly I think) that I am a web developer and this is my livelihood. He put me on hold again, came back and said they agreed to rush the project and I should hear something in 4-5 days. He told me that since this product is so old (2005) they have to put together some kind of custom link just for me.

Why is that, when you can purchase it right from their site?

Plus they won’t provide a download link if they can’t confirm that I didn’t receive a CD in 2005 when I purchased it (no CD. Ever).

Not very happy at all right now. Extremely disappointed.