In today’s world, customers expect better service than ever before, and a better experience throughout every stage of the buyer journey.
Across most industries, innovations in technology are enabling service suppliers to meet these rising demands and expectations.
But what about the business software providers themselves? Have they upped their game to deliver excellence in service, experience and support at a time when businesses need it most?
I’ve collated five traits that I believe should be present in the model technology partner — if you’re looking for a new technology supplier, or are questioning whether your existing provider is meeting your expectations, this will help.
Moving from ‘supplier’ to ‘partner’
But first of all, let’s get the terminology right. I believe, in 2021, the terms ‘supplier’ and ‘provider’ have become obsolete in the world of business software. ‘Supplier’ literally means seller, trader, or contractor, which implies the delivery of a service and not much else.
For me, it also infers that updates and new products are ‘provided’ to their clients in a one-way-street, one-size-fits-all approach. It goes without saying that this approach doesn’t suit the needs or ambitions of every customer, nor does it amount to great customer experience.
Pre-Covid, the best supplier-customer relationships were already evolving into ‘digital partnerships’ where both organisations work collaboratively to improve processes, automation, efficiency and profitability.
Forming a partnership with a technology company should ensure you have the tools built around your specific needs to enable you to innovate, adapt to change and prosper.
With that in mind, here are five traits that I think you should look out for in a potential technology partner in 2021.
- An excellent Trustpilot score
Soft metrics are as important to your software partnership as the functionality and value for money of the software itself. Factors like responsiveness, patience, attentiveness, enthusiasm and product knowledge are an increasingly fundamental part of the customer experience.
Luckily, you don’t have to look too far to find these metrics, as the trend for abundant customer reviews is becoming more commonplace in the business world.
So, when shopping for a new partner, don’t just look at the hard facts, or rely solely on the sales presentation, check the company’s overall Trustpilot score and read the reviews. Look for an excellent Trustpilot score: 4.3-5. (Advanced has an ‘excellent’ score of 4.5, in case you were wondering.)
- A rising NPS rating
Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a customer satisfaction and service quality metric which measures how likely a customer is to recommend a product or service. NPS ratings range from -100 from +100, with scores higher than 0 typically considered good, and scores above 50 considered excellent, says Customer Guru.
We’re proud that our NPS score for our cloud products has been rising steadily over the past 18 months, from 29 in June 2019 to 34 in June 2020. In December, it reached 37. This shows we are clearly moving in the right direction, but we also acknowledge that we can improve further.
Find out what your current supplier’s score is, and use this universal metric to measure any potential new partners. Check if its NPS score is going up or down, and ask what the company is doing to improve it.
- A comprehensive customer support infrastructure
Not getting the support you need, when you need it, and having to chase your account managers is no longer acceptable. This could be because your provider is experiencing a loss of expertise due to staff redundancies, or because its support service is based in another country. Either way, it can lead to a worsening customer experience.
Beyond excellent customer service staff and technicians, a technology partner should have a comprehensive support infrastructure, with elements including customer success managers, a local (UK-based) support team and support programmes.
- A clear pricing structure
In 2021, no business can afford to deal with complex pricing models, prohibitive up-front costs and surprise fees. So, simple, transparent and pay-as-you-go pricing is vital.
Before the pandemic, subscriptions-based pricing — software as a service (SaaS) — was fast-becoming a proven and value-added model, as it includes a simple monthly subscription for everything you need.
Today, SaaS is even more necessary as it allows you to spend less time worrying about costs and firefighting financial disruptions, and more time focusing on their ambitions, so you can plan ahead and accelerate your transformation journey.
- Market-specific knowledge and expertise
If you feel like your supplier doesn’t understand your market, your business or your needs, it should be a red flag to your business. Market-specific knowledge and expertise should be a minimum requirement for every technology partner.
With the right industry knowledge, partners can provide support to help you react quickly to sector-specific changes, such as complying with new legislation, and adapting to new trends.
What every business needs
As a business, regardless of size, you need a technology partner that’s the right fit for you. It should have excellent customer satisfaction and service quality ratings, offer a comprehensive customer support infrastructure and clear pricing structure; and it should understand your market so it can deliver the right expertise to keep you ahead of your competition.
From finance to HR teams, employees need as much support as possible so they can focus on getting the job done — and technology partners should go the extra mile to ensure they get an excellent customer experience.
Get in touch
Thinking of switching to a technology partner? Contact Advanced to see how we can partner with you to help you innovate, adapt to change, and prosper.