When selecting a vendor, it is important to approach the task in the same way you would if you were hiring an employee or entering into a business partnership. However, choosing the vendor who will best meet your needs and become a value-added partner can be somewhat overwhelming.
One area that you should not overlook is the level of customer service and support you expect to receive from the vendor. Since the meaning and value placed on “customer service” often differs from organization to organization, make sure you do your homework. Here are some practical guidelines to help you find the right partner—one who makes customer service and support a priority.
1. Ask Questions
Not all vendors are created equal. And, because your customer experience can differ significantly from one vendor to the next, it helps to ask questions upfront to determine whether your experience will be a good one after you become a client.
Here are some examples of questions to ask that will help you better understand the vendor’s focus on support:
- What are your customer support hours?
- Do I have access to a live person, if desired?
- What is your turn-around time on questions and issue resolution?
- Within the next 12-to-24 months, what investments are you making to keep your support staff well trained and responsive?
- What is your training methodology to ensure your processes are not only efficient, but provide the best support experience to customers?
2. Choose a Vendor with Knowledgeable Staff
The vendor you choose should have accessible and knowledgeable customer service and support staff. They must be able to answer your questions quickly and help you find a solution that best fits your business needs. Additionally, staff should not only be knowledgeable about their products, but in the industry as well.
Who the support staff receives its training from is almost as important as the quantity of training they receive. Make sure your vendor’s staff is trained by in-house legal counsel to guarantee they are up-to-speed on the most current regulations, including how those regulations impact your products. Without that expertise, you might find yourself far more knowledgeable than the vendor’s training staff.
3. Determine the Vendor’s Capacity
Make sure the vendor has both the expertise and the capacity to provide good customer support, including technical support. It also is important that customer service representatives are available when and how you need them, whether via e-mail, a live person over the phone or an online chat.
4. Establish Good Communication
It is just as critical to communicate with your vendors as it is to communicate with your own customers. Establishing the proper communication channels between you and your vendor can lead to increased efficiencies, reduced costs and most importantly, better customer service.
5. Define Your Service Expectations
At the start of any vendor relationship, you must clearly define and communicate your customer service and support expectations. When a vendor understands how important customer service is to you, they will be encouraged to work harder in that area.
Customer Service: The Wolters Kluwer Financial Services’ Way
At Wolters Kluwer Financial Services, customer service is a priority. We offer live and online support resources to help our customers get the most out of our compliance products.
We also believe that customer feedback is a great way to track and measure our level of service. We frequently survey our customers to ensure we are delivering the type of customer service and support they need to successfully do business. And, we take our customers’ comments—both good and bad—very seriously. In fact, our most recent survey results demonstrate that our efforts to improve our levels of service and support are paying off.
- When it comes to being satisfied with their most recent call to our support line, our customers rate themselves as being 81 percent satisfied.
- When it comes to problem resolution, 91.5 percent of our customers are more than satisfied with the amount of time it took to resolve their issue once they were connected with a Support Specialist.
- When it comes to resolving problems to our customers’ satisfaction, nearly 89 percent report that they are pleased with the overall outcome.
- And, when it comes to overall satisfaction, nearly 85 percent of our customers are satisfied with the service they regularly receive. Moreover, nearly 84 percent stated they were willing to recommend our products and services to others based on the quality of service they received.
While our survey results reflect our commitment to monitoring, measuring and improving our overall service levels, we strive to do better. We are working hard to continually enhance our customer service, our response times and our ability to quickly resolve any issues our customers might have. After all, good customer service and support is truly the foundation of any business.
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