Four Customer Support Questions to Consider Before Investing in New Software

As organizations grow, so does the need for new processes, applications, and integration points to increase efficiency and scale growth to evolving market demands. According to a recent poll conducted by DiCentral, only 25 percent of organizations consider customer support when selecting business software or software-as-a-service-based managed services providers.

While the support team does not typically handle the implementation of new software, it can help facilitate necessary communications between the customer and the implementation engineers to ensure optimal utilization. Once the decisions have been finalized and the implementation is complete, the customer support team will provide ongoing support for the new solutions for the organizations' end-users.

Customer support is as critical a feature set as any of the software functionality and should be taken into consideration when starting to research solution providers. Most organizations do not think about contacting the customer support team until they experience the software interface in full production, which is not the optimal time to discover that something is less than satisfactory. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you research the customer support department of potential solution providers before deciding on the best fit for your company.

Consider the following four customer support questions before investing in new software solutions:

Most selling organizations will claim that their customer service is stellar, using buzzwords like "24/7", "expert," and "best-in-class." However, the most reliable feedback comes from existing or former customers. Product reviews are readily available on the Internet, and companies might also provide references and their experience with the customer support teams. Additionally, seeking out customer support teams that have won awards in the past is a safe indicator of a positive customer service experience.

  1. Does the software solution provider have severity levels for priority in place?

A successful customer support team should have prioritization protocols in place for the varied severity levels, whether an issue is business-critical or has minimal business impact. For example, a high-severity issue might cause a production line to come to a complete halt. An issue like this is critical and needs to be addressed by customer service representatives immediately. On the other hand, a low-severity issue is something like changing an address or contact information on file. That is something that isn't detrimental to the business if it's not taken care of immediately.

  1. What ways can you contact customer support?

Customer support teams should have multiple points of contact, including phone, email, live chat, or a support ticket system. Customers do not expect a single point of contact, like a phone, for reaching customer support so that they aren't relegated to a queue and treated as a number. Different customers have different needs and preferences for how they want to reach out to customer service, so there should be multiple options offered based on those preferences.

  1. Will the software solution provider work with you to improve incident resolution and response times?

Customers can help speed up the resolution of issues by providing as many details about the issue up front. At times, the end user experiencing the issue might not be fully versed in the information the customer support team requires. A screenshot of the issue or a step-by-step recap of what led to the issue can help inform the customer service representative  Document ID numbers, document types, and which trading partner relationship is having the issue would all be great information to include as well.

According to a Gartner survey, 64 percent of purchasing decision makers find the customer experience more important than price when making a purchase. Organizations should make it a top priority to investigate the customer support teams as part of the initial process in deciding on a solution provider. Doing so will help to enhance your customer experience and working relationship with the solution provider you choose.

Cindy Smith is customer experience manager at DiCentral, a provider of electronic data interchange (EDI) and supply chain software and custom integration solutions.