Everyone has had at least one great customer service experience and a poor one at one point in their life. The great ones compel you to refer the great service to friends and colleagues while the poor ones frustrate you and drive you to Facebook or Twitter to vent. When it comes to software vendors, the poor service experiences can take a wide range of forms. You might call a support hotline and after waiting an hour you hang up in frustration. You might send multiple emails requesting support and get an email response a week later. Even worse, you get finally get someone on the phone from your vendor and it seems that they simply don’t care about you or your problems.
When we started AgendaPal, we set out to do two things: Build powerful yet easy to use software and set the bar for customer service in our industry.
Frankly, we were disgusted by the state of customer service and support in the software space and wanted to change it. Therefore, we designed our organization to be completely different. We felt that if we could deliver an amazing product at a reasonable price along with fantastic support, our product would sell itself. Based upon this thesis, we decided that we didn’t want any sales reps in our organization. Instead, we would focus on hiring only the best customer service and product staff along with a few admin employees. Our thesis held true! Winning business was easy because our customers valued a quality product and stellar support more than anything and sang our praises to their colleagues.
Over the years, we’ve learned a few things that you need to look out for when assessing the quality of a software vendor’s customer service and support. These apply to any type of software vendor, not just agenda and meeting management software vendors.
What are your vendor’s support hours? Most software vendors today will have a minimum of 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday, support hours. However, you need to verify that those support hours are not in a different time zone that doesn’t align with your schedule. Some vendors may offer extended hours, say 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM Eastern Time in order to cover most U.S. time zones.
At AgendaPal, we have always provided 24 x 7 support. You won’t always need it, but it is great to have a vendor that is there to help when you are trying to hammer out changes to your agenda for that special meeting that needs to get posted by 10:00 PM.
Response & Resolution Time
How long does it take, on average, for your vendor to respond to support requests and how long does it take to address the issue? Be wary when asking this question as some vendors may define response time differently than others. For example, they may send an automated email response immediately notifying you that they received your request. However, you actually don’t get a response for a day or two.
Response time is not the only important figure. Resolution time is as well. If you have an urgent issue, you need it fixed quickly, not just responded to quickly. Make sure that your vendor has an average time to resolution that is acceptable to you.
It is shocking, but some vendors charge more for varying levels of support. At AgendaPal, that never made sense to us! Each one of our clients is important to us, not only those who pay the most. Therefore, our 24 x 7 white glove service is available to all of our customers at no additional charge. This isn’t only limited to support, but we’ll do any configuration that our customers desire at no change as well while other vendors charge for this service.
Talk to a Support Rep
With most vendors, the only person you talk to before you sign on the dotted line is a sales rep. They will, in many cases, promise you the world when it comes to customer service even though they aren’t the ones who will be delivering it. Ask them to speak to a support rep. Ask the support rep how they handle customer issues. Also, take note of the support rep’s demeanor. If the support rep doesn’t give you a good feeling before the deal is signed, they certainly won’t after the deal is signed.
Talk to the Vendor’s Customers
Most importantly, you need to talk to other customers. Don’t rely only on a list of references that your vendor supplies…of course they are going to give you references that will speak highly of them. Do a bit of digging yourself to find others who are using the vendor’s solution. Reach out to the listserv for your local association or LinkedIn groups. You are bound to find people using the vendor’s software that can give you factual insight on what it is really like to do business with the vendor. Be specifically wary of vendors who have recently been acquired. When the vendor’s ownership changes, customer service typically does as well (and usually not for the better). In cases where the vendor was recently acquired, make sure to ask how customer service has been since the acquisition.