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The Hidden Side of No/Low-Code Economics: Why There's a Support Crisis

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Bill_French
17 - Neptune
17 - Neptune

I often call out bone-headed moves by Airtable, but I want to assure everyone, that I actually like the product. I use it for personal and occasional business work, and I am a paid user who can attest that they do not provide support to simpleton users like me who regularly advise very successful companies.

In this call-out, I’m looking at the hidden side of no/low-code SaaS platforms and how this particular vendor managed to create a support crisis and a pile of bad will. 

Note: This is the first article I’ve penned specifically about the hidden side of no/low-code economics. I’m an armchair economist and self-anointed No-Code Economist. I hope you like it and the many stories I’ve got queueing up for this new category in my Substack. If there are specific stories you’d like me to explore, drop a note in the comments or reach out anytime (bill.french@gmail.com). The realm of no/low-code has a lot of hidden aspects in terms of cost, performance, and adoption. I hope to explore these subtle, yet often invisible aspects of these new and exciting tools.

BTW - you can read the entirety of my article if you subscribe for free - it gives you seven days to enjoy this article and about a hundred other premium articles.

This article is less about Show & Tell and more about Think and Reflect. It provides a historical perspective and explains how we all got to the point where we pay for Airtable, but we don't seem to get the support we need.

There’s no shortage of new messages in this community like this one.

I've been trying to get an answer on the support email for almost 2 weeks now, all I get is an automated response, and that's about it.

Others are more anxious and seemingly ready to jump ship.

This lack of support has not been made clear ANYWHERE in the documentation we've received. Since AirTable has foisted their support for non-1000+ user businesses off onto their "community," we'll be looking for something else.

Airtable has boldly stated that Enterprise matters most. Airtable has clarified that support for SMB, especially those in the small business category, matters less than least. This is not a crime and it should not be taken personally. It's just business policy.

They don’t want the annoyance of a soccer mom managing the pee-wee league playoff game data for Sitka, Alaska, even if that soccer mom happens to be a regional Sales VP for Exxon Mobil. No business ever failed because they were too focused on their most important customers. However ...

 

Spoiler

Even the largest platforms tend to listen to all customers concerning usability issues because, often, the smaller companies find some of the greatest opportunities, the biggest bugs, and the most egregious security shortcomings. More often, this constituency of users [well known for getting a product airborne] discovers very important gaps that may lead to key improvements and technological innovations. With Airtable’s latest policy changes, it has fundamentally rejected customer relationships that tend to make companies great and keep them great.

 

Get the rest of the story here ...

5 Replies 5
Joe_Svingala
6 - Interface Innovator
6 - Interface Innovator

Thanks Bill,

This was refreshing to read - however I want to refine one of your final points 


Airtable has boldly stated that Enterprise matters most.


And the point that is important here is that only Large (most likely multi-national) Enterprise customers are important - if you are a slightly larger SMB that is considered at the low end of the Enterprise scale, you are still unimportant to Airtable. You could be paying them the same rate that a >1,000 employee enterprise customer is, and yet you are of no value to Airtable & they will make sure you know it. 

I wish them luck, however it doesn't seem that they have a significant international reach currently, and based off NAICS - they only have around 24,000 or so possible customers at this scale in NA.

 

Without Airtable support for small businesses  - or rather, in my case, small Airtable implementations within large global enterprises that had potential to be huge, I've no choice but to start making efforts to remove Airtable from my solution stack. Why on Earth would I want to drive a product forward when no one has my back?

Well done Airtable! Way to treat your customers! /s *golf clap*

Joe,

I can’t speak to your assertion, but I suspect you have good reason to add clarity concerning the upper end of the SMB segment.

In my view, all paying customers should be able to get support. A well-run support team should be able to scale the answer pipeline too. It shouldn't matter if the question comes from a worker at a small manufacturer or a multi-national Fortune 100. The question is homogenous and the answer is, or should be, known and institutionalized. Further, the delivery of knowledge should be vastly streamlined by now. So, why the deep cuts and narrow constraints biased toward only the largest buyers?

It's all about trust. And support is one of the few remaining levers that can instill trust.

Bill_French
17 - Neptune
17 - Neptune