The Value of a Positive Customer Experience
We have all been there—we purchase a product and something about it doesn't meet our expectations. While many companies have figured out that an "easy return" goes a long way in customer satisfaction, there are still those that make it challenging. Let's be honest, we have avoided ordering from companies that don't make this process painless, or even better, FREE!
The same is true with purchasing software. While customers are typically not looking for a free return policy, most customers are looking for a positive experience to happen after the purchase. The days of installed software are behind us and this allows for a more flexible, responsive customer service process. No longer are solutions dependent upon, or restricted by, what resides on your hardware. Instead it relies on how far reaching your brainstorming and idea generation can take you, along with whom you choose as a software partner.
Two Levels of Engagement
When it comes to driving value out of the partnership there are two levels that need to be considered. The combination of these will ensure that you are covering the basic blocking and tackling while setting a vision for the way you will maximize your investment over time.
Tactical: What new functionality do I need assistance setting up? What problems arise in the daily process that could be avoided with implementing a new piece of the technology or modifying my current setup? Why isn't my current setup working the way I expected?
These questions are addressed by the tactical relationship the provider has with their customer and is what drives the business forward daily. Troubleshooting and problem solving is the responsibility of a customer support team. This team ensures that you keep moving forward with your processes and don't miss a beat. Important aspects include: ease of requesting help, professional team members, seamless escalation of incidents, and a single point of contact through full resolution. This team should also feed key data back to the organization to allow for a more robust customer engagement strategy.
Another important component of this relationship is the self-serve option for basic functions. Picture this: you are rushing around in the morning and stop into your favorite coffee shop to grab a cup of black coffee. There is a line of 20 people and you know that this will slow you down. You see a station where you can fill up a cup and drop your money in a receptacle. You fill up and are back on your way. This simple modification to the shop's process gave you a high level of customer satisfaction. How would your perception of the customer service you received change if you stood in the line only to be late to your morning meeting? Giving customer documentation, training and other resources via a knowledge base often keeps customers moving and increase the usage of a technology.
Strategic: What business changes are coming up in our organization that would need to be addressed by the software?What are we not taking advantage of today that would be of interest? How could we change business process to better align? How are my other customers handling similar issues?
Relationship managers are key to the ongoing and long-term vision of the partnership.
- They open the conversation to understand your current and future business needs.
- As your advocate, the Relationship Manager will act as your voice internally to give your perspective on future development.
- Look for this person to also act as a "priority manager." It is not only about identifying value increasing opportunities, but to create touch points to ensure that you are implementing and seeing results from your recent projects.
Keys to Success
Remember that this is a partnership and there are things that every customer can do to increase the likelihood of accelerating ROI.
- Release Cycles. Pay close attention to the new features and functions your software partner is introducing and build a process around it. Reviewing the items with your internal team to identify areas of interest will allow you to quickly turn around and implement.
- Resources: It is important to be clear who is responsible for engaging with your software partner at the tactical and strategic level. The tactical contact should have an intimate understanding of your processes and the way you are currently utilizing the software. Bandwidth of this individual is also critical. If they are too busy fighting daily fires, how will they ever begin to look ahead and implement the next best thing for your organization? The strategic contact should be involved in setting the direction for your organization and be able to explain not only where you are headed, but the timing and objective of the projects.