“Support,” claims Deloitte analyst David Linthicum, “is hard to come by in the emerging cloud computing universe.” He observes that an increasing number of enterprises are reacting to subpar support by giving up and turning to their own troubleshooting resources.
Linthicum may have pulled back the rug on an open secret. But it’s hardly unique to the cloud.
Take the ERP industry. Most providers of business management software tend to skimp on support when they think they can get away with it. This applies across models—hybrid, private, on-premises, etc. Exceptions do exist, but they are few and far between.
There are many different forms of customer neglect. However, I would suggest five as among the most common.
There are relatively few ERP providers that deliver their own support. A vendor might loan out implementation teams. But after they go live on the system, the customer lands in the lap of an outside partner.
I hardly need to explain the troubles with outsourced support. In general, third-party support staff are held accountable for speed and volume, not quality. Outsourcing firms tend to have high turnover and low hiring standards. Customers seldom get the opportunity for long-term support relationships. They learn to dread interactions with support, which frequently require more time and energy than the customer can afford to give.
2. Knowledgeable but disengaged
An excellent support person combines detached expertise with a sense of investment in the customer’s success. Sadly, many ERP providers do not hire for this unique combination. Instead, they recruit one of two personas: the uncaring expert or the compassionate incompetent. Either type falls well short of expectations.
Uncaring experts have technical qualifications in spades. Often with industry experience in their back pocket, they sail through interviews focused more on what than how. Are they masters of the product, intimately familiar with every trouble-shooting methodology? Of course. But their inability to code-switch hinders them from communicating that knowledge, and their often-arrogant attitudes leave customers feeling frustrated and demeaned.
3. Engaged but incompetent
Alternatively, providers recruit support staff based on their empathy and likability. Whether untrained or inept, this type makes customers feel valuable while simultaneously neglecting their support tickets. The initial satisfaction of being treated nobly soon becomes a growing pique at needless delays and requests for clarification. Eventually, the client-company begins wondering whether they could do it better themselves.
4. Competent but overwhelmed
More commonly, the issue has nothing to do with the individual support staff. Even the most capable and experienced consultant has definite limits. Many ERP vendors disregard these limits, imposing excessive, and increasing, demands on their support teams. Customers have to navigate delays, long hold-times, and ever-mounting exasperation with costs that don’t reflect quality.
Meanwhile, such providers’ support teams suffer turnover rates comparable to those at outsourcing firms. This, in turn, saddles customers with the same difficulties they’d get from a third-party.
5. The Drop-off
In a tale as old as time, some ERP providers will lure a customer with promises of attentive, always-available support. But these vendors don’t tell prospects that after the implementation team heads home, their always-available support will skyrocket in price, often while plummeting in quality. As the vendor diverts attention to newer products, support for older versions will continue to worsen until, eventually, dropping off entirely.
A Different Way
I have only listed a handful of the ways in which ERP providers under-deliver on their support promises. At Xledger, we hold ourselves to a higher standard. We hire our in-house, on-shore consultants for expertise as well as empathy, and we treat them well. We commit to one-on-one relationships with every customer, relationships that last as long as you choose to work with us. Our radically personalized support and continuous improvement have earned us a 97% lifetime customer retention rate—the highest in the industry.
If you’d like to learn more about Xledger’s true-cloud ERP solution, please contact us.