Software vendors usually provide solution to companies that are seeking the most appropriate systems for their staff and assets. One of the challenges, you as vendors, are facing is to find efficient technologies for your clients’ requirements.
However, if your efforts are mainly focused on building a technical solution, without also providing simple and easy to understand user guides and training for the solution, there is an inherent risk that your client will find the whole automated process not only time consuming but also extremely frustrating. The frustration comes when the end-users have to sift through vast amounts of technical documentation to get their work done. As a vendor, not providing the contextualized help on the spot, directly impacts your support costs, as this means, having to invariably deal with the escalating costs from receiving numerous calls from your client. For your client, this problem directly impacts their productivity and efficiency. The whole process defeats the purpose of putting in place an automated solution in the first place, and it is therefore unlikely that your client will look to sign on repeated business with you.
As business owners, we all know that reputation is everything. So while after-sales support are usually included in the agreed Scope of Work, ensuring that the client’s end-users understand the solution deserves focused attention, and one that will ultimately affect what your client has to say about you, and the reputation of your company. Once a client is unsatisfied, the damage can be exponential with the risk of losing ten potential future clients. To compound the problem, your clients have immediate access to the market by way of various social media networks, like Tweeter or LinkedIn, which can irreparably damage your reputation instantly.
When you consider the cycle of acquiring new business to business sale and the efforts it involves, your priorities should be balanced between both winning new business, as well as driving repeat business from your existing clients. Why? Satisfied and loyal customers can be an ambassador for your company, and bring in additional business from “word of mouth” recommendations. Acquiring new clients is a far more expensive undertaking than sourcing for new projects from existing clients. Once a client establishes trust with the quality of the services and deliverables offered your company, the value of the transactions will go up because of the increased level of trust. Further, in a transient employment market, like in Singapore, when an employee moves between companies, the ‘happy’ user that goes to the next company can be your ‘knight’. Otherwise, the former employee could spread the word that you, as a vendor, have not provided the appropriate after-sale service… and once again you’re losing potential clients, without being aware of it.
Establishing trust with a client involves creating a fantastic first impression which continues even after the delivery of the system. Get it right the first time. Keeping the client informed at every stage of the development in the delivery process, and ensuring that there is pro-active and comprehensive advice available to your client, to help them understand the software solution delivered, is essential.
Providing the client with the right set of services and tools, either through easy-to-understand, contextualized manuals or user guides, training (including “train-the trainer” workshops) to train their staff, as well as ensuring easy to access and knowledgeable after-sales support will be critical in creating that final lasting impression with your clients. So some parting words to software vendors out there: don’t put all your eggs in the pre-sale basket, but focus time and money on ensuring that your client is happy after they buy.
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