The only thing more infuriating than no internet is some internet. You know what I’m talking about. You’re at a public place—maybe an airport or a coffee shop, or an airport coffee shop—and you connect to the network, but it kicks you off the moment you try to open an email. There’s disappointment, followed quickly by frustration as our second and third attempts to connect both fail. It’s by virtue of our unmet expectations and wasted time that some of a good thing can, paradoxically, be worse than not having it at all. Enter technical support. If at the crossroads of Build and Buy you chose the latter and are now browsing the embedded BI market, you know that whatever third-party software you purchase will become an extension of your own application. What you may not realize, however, is that the BI provider’s support team will also become an extension—an extension of your staff. Since, like wifi, the only thing worse than no support is spotty support, it’s in your best interest to make sure your new partners have a solid service record. Investing in great support (as opposed to average support) is the difference between getting an issue logged and getting an issue logged in exchange for a viable workaround. It’s the difference between getting an answer and getting an answer today.
The Impact of Great Support
So how heavily should support factor into your application purchasing decisions? The cumulative effect of great support has the power to impact your bottom line in the following five ways.
1. Catalyzing Income Upgrades
Clients who receive prompt, helpful technical support are more likely to upgrade to higher subscription plans. Ascending from Business to Enterprise or Bronze to Silver means gaining access to more advanced features and possibly performing some new integrations, increasing the likelihood that support will be called upon for assistance. A responsive support team can embolden clients to take the next step and brave whatever challenges they may encounter in the process.
2. Improving Retention
Protecting the professional trust between you and your clients is paramount to building customer loyalty. Sometimes the integrity of that trust will rest on the reliability of your embedded application and its support staff. In these cases, the value you receive from that team can be directly transferred to your clientele, paving the way for a continued relationship.
3. Encouraging Expansion
Support often becomes the primary point of contact between a software provider and its clients after the point of sale. In these cases, nurturing support relationships is especially important, as those positive interactions tend to manifest as glowing testimonials and, ideally, client referrals down the line!
4. Boosting Service Efficiency
Having a strong and streamlined third-party support team will help you improve your response time and frequency, cutting down on your cost per client contact. While it can be challenging to measure accurately, there is monetary value in being able to answer a question in two emails rather than five.
5. Fueling Product Development
If the paths of communication between your clients and you as well as between you and your application provider are well maintained, problems get solved faster and the products in question improve as a result. Great support can truly be the tide that lifts all boats! Just as a slow or haphazard support workflow might deter a user from reporting a problem, a smooth workflow encourages communication, expediting the product development process.
Gauging an Application’s Support Record
While you’re evaluating a third-party software application, it’s of course good practice to factor in your team’s impressions of their customer service practices, but it’s also important to do a bit of digging. Remember, some companies give their sales prospects the white glove treatment, and the gloves come off after the contract is signed. To ascertain whether you can continue to expect exceptional care and attention after becoming a client, gather information about the company’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) and customer satisfaction ratings (CSAT).
CSAT (Customer Satisfaction)
Customer Satisfaction is simply the percent of customer respondents who report a product or service as having exceeded a set of specified satisfaction benchmarks. Most software review sites measure this in some way, using stars or points or some other metric. An approximate CSAT score is a valuable accompaniment to qualitative feedback given in customer reviews, testimonials, and case studies. G2 Crowd is home to the majority of Exago reviews, though we can also be found on Capterra and other networks. Our CSAT score is represented there by our star rating (4.8/5) and our position on their embedded BI provider quadrant.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
A Net Promoter Score is calculated using responses to the question “How likely are you to recommend this product to a friend or colleague?” on a 1-10 scale. Those who give a 9 or 10 rating are labeled “promoters,” and those who give a 0-6 response are labeled “detractors.” (Responses between 7 and 8 are labeled “passives” and count toward the total number of respondents but do not otherwise affect the score.) A company’s NPS is then calculated by subtracting the percent of detractor respondents from the percent of promoter respondents. Thus, the score can range from -100 (all respondents are detractors) to 100 (all respondents are promoters). Positive NPSs are considered good, and NPSs over 50 are considered exceptional. Asking a company under evaluation about their NPS is, at the very least, a good way to get the support conversation started. Even if they don’t have an exact figure to give you, they may be able to provide estimates refer you to a software review site that does track that metric. We at Exago are still in the process of getting an accurate NPS measurement, so in the meantime, we’ll let this word cloud of or G2 Crowd reviews, assembled in summer of 2016, do some of the talking. It’s in your best interest to partner with an embedded software solution whose support standards rival your own, so don’t let that part of the evaluation process fall by the wayside. The value of a great support team may be tricky to measure in dollars and cents, but it’s every bit as important as the product’s features themselves. After all, if you can’t get a feature to work, who are going to call?
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