How to Pick a Software Provider You’ll LoveFebruary 29, 2016
Picking the right vendor for your next software solution is no easy task. Technology investments are not cheap and the devotion of proper ramp-up time, resources and training is necessary for success with any solution. Often times you’ll spend weeks, if not months, moving through the selection process. But when it comes time to make a choice, how do you know you’re selecting the right one for your business? Which solution will add value and delight users?
In many cases, the core functionality of software offerings can appear so similar that the subtle differences in tech do not majorly impact your decision. This is when you realize you are no longer selecting a software solution but a vendor partner.
The key to picking a software solution you’re going to love is the vendor behind it and that vendor must be customer centric. After signing the contract, your interaction with this solution provider is for better or for worse. Similar to a marriage, it’s about partnership and trust, and essentially, about how this vendor guarantees your success as a customer.
Customer success is not a department; it’s an attitude. You need to be certain that customer success is ingrained into the DNA of the vendor company. That means a top-down customer centric culture where an assigned customer success manager understands your goals and will help support those goals so you can keep expanding the value that product is providing to your organization.
To determine if your vendor has a strong customer success mindset, ask yourself these questions:
Do they take the time to know my business and to really grasp my need?
This may seem obvious but it is very important. In order to foster success, a good vendor will spend the time to understand your current situation, your pains, your goals and even the culture of how you conduct your business. Only then will you have the confidence that they can get you where you’re going.
Can they go beyond your urgent need to show you what you may be missing?
Sometimes, the key to your immediate success is to address an urgent pain. A good vendor will satisfy that immediate need but also help you look to the future to make sure you stay ahead of progressive IT strategies and industry trends. Your solution provider must be capable of showing how the product can support a clear vision that continues to drive maximum value to your organization. This ensures you will continue to love your software and be successful for years to come.
How do they ensure you continue to grow with the product?
By providing regular review meetings to maintain open communication, a good vendor will prove with action and response they are ready to tackle new challenges with you. During these reviews you should be able to address issues for the present, but also start modeling your future. The customer success team must demonstrate a process to support your day-to-day and week-to-week progress.
Do they have a company-wide mindset to incorporate your input and feedback?
This open communication channel must be at every level of the organization. You must feel confident that the organization has mechanisms in place and a culture of accepting and acting on customer feedback, such as a customer community or regular customer meetings. You must also trust that your customer success manager will serve as your advocate across the organization.
Do they have an on-boarding process to facilitate the adoption process?
Your biggest challenge will be adoption. A good vendor will help with that. As your trusted partner, they must have a proven roadmap to do all necessary to help through the transition, even by working directly with your team members. The customer success team must also assist you with change management within your organization.
A product alone will not ensure your success; it is a team effort based on a good partnership with your vendor. Customer success cannot be a department, it’s an attitude. Take the time to select carefully. Peel the onion, look beyond the shiny PPT presentation to the people, the processes, the culture, and the references that will verify the relationship doesn’t end when the ink is dry!