While in a meeting with support staff of one of our clients last week (let's call it a client A), discussion revealed very interesting insight – Client A has a large, complex application installed with a large client base. It’s an old system; but works phenomenally well in comparison with many newer competitive products. But over the years, experienced users client A's clients who were properly trained years ago by client A had left to pursue other opportunities leaving behind a knowledge void.
It all started with increased support calls and increased time spent for each call by a customer representative.
Because there were not enough knowledgeable people at users, new users were largely relying on check lists and basic user documentation. Client never made good investments to train the new resources and keep the knowledge. So these new users whenever ran in to 'How Tos' started calling the support line. This didn't happen overnight. It was over the period 3-4 years. It started small initially and became big enough for client to look into.
To make the matters more challenging - client A had gone through some resource turn over in the same period and had lost some knowledgeable resources, too. Representatives at client A were roughly about as much exposed to the complexities of the application as the new users at clients. this created many issues in short term:
- How do you tell end clients where customer call is not a ‘Problem’ but just an ignorance or a lack of awareness due to insufficient training.
- Even before that, how does client A ensure that it provides good expertise and have the resources stronger and deeper knowledge, understanding of the application.
- How do you tell management of end clients that they need to re-invest in training their new staff, when they are hearing not-so-positive feedback from their users about your not so knowledgeable staff?
- And would the client invest in training their staff on older application of Client A, or would rather actively look at some other products.
- What about bad publicity? These new users while visiting trade shows going to talk great about client A product or others?
- Would competition use such instances against the client A, to get their foot in?
- If you were client A:
- How would you detect such scenario early on? What are the early symptoms?
- How would you avoid this?
- What best practices would you implement in your company?
- How would you make sure that you are bringing the newer versions, updates in the market frequent enough?
- How would you gauge the ‘knowledge level’ of the client staff and your own staff?
- How do you know the support calls – are not turning into extension of on demand training for client?
- And very importantly – how do you perceive and manage client management expectations? How do you make sure that they understand as well as you do – you or application is not entirely responsible for the increase in support calls?
Current economic conditions have caused small and large businesses restructure the resources. as a result, in many cases much knowledge is lost and resources left behind are working strenuous hours to complete the work load. But, as economic condition improve, business become active and aggressive, client becomes more demanding… chances are your support team is going to be bogged down with more calls ultimately affecting client relationship.
Mantra has some good tools and framework to identify these issues early on. We make those available to all our software product clients.