A VAR’s Guide to Obsessing Over Customer Satisfaction
This is part 5 of our content series “Adapt: Strong Advice for POS Resellers,” powered by Vend
Most of my jobs during my teens and early 20s were customer-facing – guest services for a pro baseball team, guest services for my local zoo, and customer service for an employment agency – so customer satisfaction norms have been ingrained in me for decades. Among the lessons I’ve learned is that each industry has nuances about what works. Developing a system to keep ketchup bottles full at the concession stands was important at the Erie Zoo, but not so much at Career Concepts.
Point of sale resellers have customer service nuances as well, and I’ve been collecting a list of the best based on my conversations with top-performing solution providers. The three principles and 10 tactics outlined below will increase your customer retention rates and lead to landing new customers based on your stellar reputation.
But don’t jump to the list just yet. Foundational is your role as a reseller leader obsessing over customer satisfaction. Your team should know through both your words and your daily actions that your company’s top priority is creating more value for your customers and helping them achieve their goals.
Speed Over Solution
1. Ensure a human being answers every phone call promptly. “Answer anytime.”
I’ve learned from conducting merchant surveys on behalf of VARs that the #1 end user frustration is calling during an IT crisis and running into voice mail. Forward your after-hours phone calls to an on-call technician, not an impersonal answering service, or you can leverage your vendor partners who provide 24/7 support. For peak times during typical business hours, route overflow calls to an administrative employee who can ensure the merchant their issue will be addressed ASAP.
2. Train admins to be technically efficient; solve common customer issues without rerouting the call.
Tying in with the first point, guide and train that admin to solve common, straightforward merchant problems. If you don’t have this information written down already, ask the admin to sit down with your techs to map out fundamental troubleshooting. This is another opportunity to lean on your vendor partners who can provide staff training or assistance when a problem needs escalated.
3. Move your most people-focused technician into a Customer Advocate role.
The Customer Advocate reaches out to your clients to uncover and solve problems while they’re still small. This will ultimately save you overhead because your tech team won’t need to dedicate hours to solve these issues when they become urgent and messy. One VAR who follows this practice described it as “poking the bear.” They find out what’s aggravating the client early – before they consider switching IT providers.
4. Utilize PSA software; auto-send a customer survey when a ticket is closed.
The brief survey generated by PSA (Professional Services Automation) software and automatically sent to your customers at the end of every project can help you uncover dissatisfied customers. VARs tell me 95% or more of the surveys they send don’t raise an issue, but what is revealed in the 1-out-of-20 is a life saver for that account. Don’t settle for 95% satisfaction; we’re obsessing here, remember?
Minimum Goal: Exceed Client Expectations
5. Give a copy of the book Raving Fans as a gift to new customers.
The gist of the book is that companies shouldn’t aim to merely satisfy customers; their goal should be to turn their customers into “raving fans” who will brag about your company to others. I know of only one VAR who distributes this book to their customers, but think of what a powerful message they’re sending. “We want you to be ecstatic with our service – not just happy – and we’re going to work our tails off to make sure that happens.”
6. Provide a “trainer” on-site for 2-4 full days after an install.
The goal of this is to stay with the customer as long as it takes to ensure they become proficient with your new system. Shadow the staff from open to close, working elbow-to-elbow with them to ensure the success of the implementation.
7. Call the customer three times after an installation to ensure everything is working properly.
Post-install emails are good, but personal outreaches are the best. Designate a staff member to call the customer immediately after the install is complete, two weeks after, and then two months after to ensure the customer is beyond satisfied. If your techs know this process will be executed after every install, they will be more conscientious with their work.
Ensure Everyone Continually Obsesses Over Client Satisfaction
8. Engage your entire team in KPIs and client success stories.
Imagine trying to coach a basketball game and your players don’t ever look at the scoreboard. That’s essentially what you’re doing if you don’t regularly distribute, review, and discuss client KPIs with your entire team. Successful resellers I’ve worked with share stats and stories at least monthly and many of them do it weekly.
9. Give your team access to a real-time messaging tool like Slack to reduce customer response time.
You know how long it can take to set up a meeting and how difficult it can be to communicate with several employees who are moving in different directions. Real-time messaging tools keep everyone on the same page. Instead of posing a question to individuals one at a time, hoping you’ll find the right person, the group messages are seen by all on their desktop and smartphone and can be responded to immediately.
10. The company leader should have frequent direct contact with customers.
I’ll get super specific with this one: Ensure your CEO visits at least two customers per month on-site. Ensure your CEO listens in on customer service calls periodically. Task your CEO to call five customers and mail two thank you cards per week. Your CEO should review the customer list at least once a month to understand who she hasn’t talked with in a while.
If you’ve read this far, you clearly care about customer satisfaction. Now go forth and obsess!
Adapt: Strong Advice for POS Resellers is powered by Vend. Used in over 25,000 stores around the world Vend is the point of sale of choice for inventory-based retailers. Through our reseller program, we partner with ISOs, dealers, agents and merchant level salespeople to help our partners and merchants sell more, save more and make more. Learn more about our program.
Adapt Part 1: 5 Fundamentals of POS Reseller Marketing
Adapt Part 2: Content Marketing Shortcuts for POS Resellers
Adapt Part 3: Your Best Salesperson Isn’t a Salesperson
Adapt Part 4: 5 Tactics to Ensure You Know Your Clients’ Goals
Channel Business Advisor Jim Roddy works with high-initiative, growth-oriented point of sale VARs, ISVs, and MSPs to help them uncover their blind spots with customers, employees, and business best practices. Then he applies his 25+ years of business management experience, executive leadership, and retail IT industry expertise to help them get better. Jim can be reached at jim@JimRoddyCBA.com.