5 Ways to Build Strategic Partnerships with Technology Customers
The popularity of SaaS-based (Software as a Service) technology means customers have more freedom to make a change if expectations are not being met. Since a hosted solution reduces the requirement for a heavy infrastructure investment, customers must feel they are receiving value in their partnership with a technology provider. This value is more than just functionality, it is based on a combination of technology, services, and strategic partnership. So how do you build a strategic partnership?
- Take a Deep Dive into the Customer’s Data—Long term partnerships begin early in the sales cycles with the discovery phase where you take the time to really understand the company’s unique pain points and financial goals. In the technology sector, we live and die by data. Developing an understanding on what metrics, KPIs, and analytics are crucial to a customer’s supply chain and transportation strategy, is a first step.
- Share Industry Best Practices—Being a strategic partner starts with the implementation of the technology and transcends the lifecycle of that customer contract. Leveraging data to drive discussions, sharing industry best practices to deliver the “how to”, and providing proven cost and service initiatives to develop the “where to focus” in the customer supply chain are all essential tools to that partnership. Out of those discussions you can start to craft a freight profile and strategic roadmap for cost and service performance improvements.
- High Touch Implementation—High touch implementation refers to a cohesive cross organizational project team acting as one unit throughout the project timeline. The technology provider and the customer project team participate in all aspects of the implementation together in a train the trainer approach. This approach ensures long term self-sustainability for the customer through the highly engaged nature of the methodology and participation.
- Strategic Account Management—The high touch customer care needs to stay strong even after implementation. Customers undergo significant change management and a stabilization period as the technology is becoming the new standard. To be a strategic partner, it is imperative a software provider continue to add value to the relationship and ensure customer success by developing action plans, identify value propositions, and measuring the impact of deployment initiatives all while tracking the customer’s KPIs and performance. The goal is to ensure customer satisfaction with the technology by becoming the go-to resource to resolve any problems the customer faces. Providing this type of constant customer service is how you ensure satisfaction, so when its renewal time, the customer is looking forward to staying on board.
- Customer Technology Support—While an individual customer representative is imperative, you also want to make sure your technology support help desk is driven to provide outstanding customer support. We have all called into a support center, to be put on hold, receive answers that were “canned” and not related to our issue, or simply felt we didn’t receive that “personal touch”. A customer support program that ensures a personal touch and clear guidelines will also build that strategic relationship. Once the technology is deployed, your customer support team is one of the main faces to your customer base. A positive experience each and every time they interact with your customer is a must for maintaining all the relationship and trust established.
Measuring Strategic Partnership Success
How do you measure your company’s service success? If you offer a SaaS-based technology, a major KPI is net new sales, but customer satisfaction and retention really provide insight into your success as a strategic partner. To gage your success, be sure you are reaching high marks to the following customer questions:
- How likely are you to renew?
- Would you recommend our company?
- How satisfied are you with our software product?
- How satisfied are you with our support services?
High marks in those four areas and you know customer satisfaction is high. With outstanding customer service, you will reap the benefits of customer referrals, which means your business will continually grow. Your next challenge is maintaining those high customer service deliverables with each new customer. As long as you have a dedicated team committed to high customer service, you should have a winning combination.
Tagged Customer Service, high touch, LeanLogistics, LeanTMS, Logistics, SaaS, SaaS TMS, strategic partnership, Supply Chain, Technology, Thought Leaders, TMS, transportation management system