By Jean-Christophe LLINAS - CEO Akuiteo SAS
As with all companies, a software publisher needs to provide a quality after-sales service.
Why? Because the two biggest factors in creating client loyalty are the quality of products and services sold and the client support provided.
Therefore, you need it to maintain your existing client base and you also need it to get those clients to assist you in winning new clients. A happy client will be your best ambassador.
Usually, client support is based on the exchange of emails. However, this kind of support can rapidly reach its limits when the number of projects and clients increases and you are also subject to time penalties on delays in intervention and the solving of service requests.
The emails start to pile up. Your ability to respond rapidly, before the deadline, decreases and clients become increasingly dissatisfied.
Does this sound like you?
In order to help you face the harsh facts, here are a few pointers:
- 1) Someone within your company consolidates the contact emails sent from your company website, but a lot fall by the wayside.
- 2) People send you reminders, asking if you got their message, but you have no idea what they're talking about.
- 3) You lose track of the handling of emails after transferring it to one of your colleagues.
- 4) You have no way of knowing whether your clients are satisfied with your response because they are never invited to give you feedback.
- 5) You have no way of notifying your clients that their request is being dealt with when you're out of the office.
- 6) There's nobody to handle your clients' requests when you're not there.
- 7) It's often the same questions asked time after time, which invariably meet with the same responses. What a waste of time...
- 8) Several members of staff receive the emails. But who's supposed to respond to the client?
- 9) You're finding it hard to keep track of the time spent responding to client requests by email and equally hard to budget for it.
- 10) When it comes to project reviews with your client, you don't have any worksheets to refer to that would show all your client's requests with their different statuses and quality indicators with regard to timeliness of interventions and resolution.
Don't panic, this is the 21st century! There are methods and tools to sort these problems out.
For example, the implementation of a client portal would come under the heading of good practice.
Based on your maintenance contracts, this tool will enable your clients to enter all their service requests (anomalies, developments, support) by product, by feature, with the exact context (revenue or production) and the level of seriousness (blocking, major, minor)...
They can consult the FAQs and give you feedback on the quality of the responses provided. If they don't find satisfactory answers, they can enter their requests in a "structured" form which will receive automatic acknowledgements. They can then follow the handling of their requests in the portal, without bothering you and taking up staff time over the telephone.
At the same time, you can take a look at your systems in-house and define and set out a workflow for the timely handling of requests.
With each request, an email will be sent automatically to the working group and/or the level-one technician who is available and qualified to solve the problem. This technician can escalate the problem solving to level-two support. If the request is not clear enough, you can set up a dialogue with the client and follow the discussions that lead to the precise definition of their request. After the problem is solved, the client will receive an automatic notification. The client will then confirm the resolution of their problem by closing the request on the portal. Job done!
When it comes to steering committees with your client, you will have access to efficient dashboards based on reliable data. This should make the discussion easier and provide great transparency.
Now it's your turn...