Jeri Frank is the Co-Founder & CEO of STRATAFOLIO, a software solution for companies that own and manage real estate with NNN leases.
When you’re researching new software to help your business run smoothly, do you pay attention to customer service practices and policies? While it’s important to consider the features and the cost, it’s also crucial to consider what type of support you’ll receive. Here are some things to consider when you’re choosing a software company.
What is great customer service?
Great customer service is beneficial to companies and clients alike. Since 52% of consumers are willing to pay a higher price for a better customer service experience, it benefits software companies to invest in their customer experience team. And, just think about it: If you’re happy with the service you receive, you’re more likely to remain a client and refer them to others.
Great customer service covers a wide range of needs. As the CEO of a software solution for real estate professionals, I’ve found that these are some of the benefits of great customer service when it comes to software:
1. Experience a smooth onboarding process.
Often, the hardest part of a new experience is getting started. When you get a new software program for your business, it might feel completely foreign to you at first. You’ll probably find that your normal workflow is interrupted, and you might feel frustrated and confused.
Even if the software has the perfect tools and functionality for your business, it’s not worth much to you unless you know how to use it. And for all but the simplest and most basic software, this will probably require some time, effort and help. This is where full-service onboarding can be indispensable. When you have a knowledgeable, helpful team taking the time to understand your needs and get you started with your new software, you can get started much more easily.
2. Get the most out of the product.
In general, people purchase software so that their business can run more smoothly and efficiently than ever before. The point is to automate processes, gain brand-new insights, reduce the chance for human error and/or make employees’ daily tasks easier so that they can be happier and more productive. In turn, this enables your company to grow and thrive.
I’ve found that too many people never get the full range of benefits they were looking for out of their software. They may end up barely using it at all, rendering it a waste of time and money. But when you have the support you need, it can be easier to get the most out of your product.
3. Save time and money.
You should have high expectations for customer service whenever you invest in new software for your business. We all know the frustration of dealing with terrible customer service. Hours spent on hold, confusion when trying to complete a simple task, struggling to communicate with a help desk employee who doesn’t seem to understand the product—all these things happen when customer service isn’t up to par. But when you have the right support, you can get everything you wanted out of your new technology—and more.
What should I look for?
Some software comes with minimal customer support. This is probably okay if it’s a very simple program that will only need occasional troubleshooting. But if you depend on the software every day to help your business run smoothly, you’ll need more robust support.
This may include services such as:
• Full-service onboarding: Does the company help you get started by training your team, loading your data and ensuring everything is working properly?
• Multichannel support: Does your new software come with the ability to easily get in touch with the customer service team via email, phone, live chat, video call, social media, etc.?
• Knowledge base: Does the company have a searchable database of tutorials and how-to articles that you can access anytime, anywhere?
A great customer service team will not only provide the services you’re looking for, but they will do so with friendliness, quick response times and a high level of expertise in their product.
Check out the reviews online. Look for how customers feel they were treated. And, when you are talking to the software provider, ask specific questions around how quickly people can expect responses or where they can get additional support should the need arise. Ask about the skill level and set of people who are supporting the product.
What should I avoid?
Remember, the software you are choosing is an investment of not only money but time. The time your team spends to learn and truly adopt a new product can be significant. This is time not spent on other value-added activities.
If you see reports of long hold times, an automated system that makes it difficult to access support personnel, or reports of staff not understanding the product or what customers are doing, those are all bad signs. You can find evidence of this in customer reviews. Dig in and see what people are saying. There are lots of software comparison websites to look at.
If the customer service isn’t up to par, don’t be afraid to look elsewhere.
Today, there are more options than there have ever been before. Talented developers all over the world are constantly creating innovative products and making them available. If you’re unsatisfied with the customer service you’re receiving with your current software, don’t be afraid to switch brands. Chances are, you’ll find a company that is willing to provide great service.
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