How do you choose a supplier that cares? What should customer intimacy look like?
Our top list of what to look for in a supplier
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It’s hard sometimes to recognise what a business improvement and crisis management supplier that genuinely cares about you looks like. If you’re an exiting or striving rock star manager looking for a rock star supplier to help you fix real business problems and drive genuine results you’re going to need to make sure you picked the right partner.
What are the questions you should be asking in your search process and what are reasonable expectations of a supplier that puts you first?
Here InPhase, a leading supplier of tech to help regulated enterprises over-perform and manage in a crisis, with a specialisation in UK government, gives us insight into what’s a realistic expectation of excellence in customer care.
1. Is there someone to call just for a chat? Do I need to pay them?
If a supplier really cares about you, they WANT to hear from you. They value your input, views and feedback. All too often post-sale, salespeople that you’ve been dealing with for months disappear and you don’t have new contacts to chew the project over with.
Ask questions about who will be your Critical Care Account Manager AND Account Director. Check their responsibilities and that if you have general questions, queries or just need a steer in a particular direction they will be there to help you.
2. Can you call the CEO?
This is a biggy! If you’re dealing with Microsoft clearly the answer is “no”. But if you're choosing a supplier because you need someone that genuinely understands your pain and is there to help you fix current and future problems, then this is a telling question to ask!
Can you get access to the CEO? Can you have the CEO’s direct email address and phone number? Companies that have a strategy of customer intimacy will encourage constructive feedback straight to the top
3. Is there an easy way to get a feedback loop?
We can all agree that no matter which supplier you deal, one day there will be something you’re not so keen on.
It doesn’t have to be a big issue. You might just have an idea that you think your supplier will want to hear about. Importantly is there a way you can get feedback? Has you idea been accepted? If not why not? What took priority over your idea? Customers that care see relationships as a partnership, not a money making factory.
Do they facilitate customer engagement?
Every tech company in the world will say it has a user group – but dig under the surface. How often do users meet? Are there regional or vertical market-specific user groups? Perhaps they even have subject matter user groups, like contingency planning or crisis management. Is the cost of the user group included in the annual charge?
Identify what you want to achieve as outcomes by collaboration and find out if this is possible.
What do you get included?
The service offering
There are some key things to look out for that will tell you a company is genuinely interested in how you use their solution and the value you get from it.
- Monthly webinars that offer free training, expert guidance and advice
- An active online customer knowledge base and community hub not just for main admin users, but open to everyone.
- Personal accreditation schemes to help you boost your CV
- Clear ability to define your implementation or project Success on a Roadmap and support to self assess
- The ability to flex what you purchased! Yes, change what services purchased are actually deployed to do for example. Often project priorities change – will your supplier help you with this.
- Free help desk. I don’t mean tech support - that comes as standard for everyone. I mean a nice person to call who will help you when you’re in a rush and want to do something rockstar like!
The software (for free)
The answer to this should be "everything!".
There shouldn’t be hidden costs. You should not expect to pay more for online help, or a help desk or general how-to.
Ok, so what's the bottom line?
Ultimately, what you are looking for when you need a supplier that will really help you fix business problems is one that puts your needs first. They should be able to demonstrate their internal processes are already set up and successfully making this happen. Look for ways the potential supplier will help you drive your technology or software implementation forward so you are continually adding value to your organisation and users… oh and make sure they are not charging you every step of the way!
For help on how to purchase performance assurance and crisis management software call InPhase on 01753 480480.
A bit about InPhase...
InPhase will help you ensure what needs to get done in your business is not only done on time, on budget but the project and actions are streamlined to goals and outcomes. It will help you plan for the future and manage in a crisis.
InPhase ensures everyone gets critical alerting of their universal business issues, real-time, whether it's business as usual or knee deep in a crisis.
Portals help everyone from the CEO to front line staff identify the next best action to take and then safeguard that better faster, more aligned decisions are continuously made.
The software embeds continuous performance improvement from staff, suppliers and partners.
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About the Author
Tori is a Board Director at InPhase and a specialist in helping business and the government deliver effective change solutions. A key-note speaker and advisor in big data, analytics and enterprise performance.