People do Business with People
By Charlie Adams, Head of Customer Excellence at Castles Technology
In the varied world of Customer Experience and Customer Service, it is essential to ‘partner up’.
Very few companies or organisations (or rather no companies or organisations) can create a CX program and deliver high-quality Customer Service without some partner integration.
This is because CX, despite being just two letters, is complex and requires a variety of capabilities at multiple levels. To create companies that are capable and able to provide great CX in this complex ecosystem, we have a myriad of technology and software solutions to choose from. And you’ll need a tech solution for almost everything!
- Voice of the Customer program – you’ll need a partner solution for that.
- Employee Experience/Engagement program – you’ll need a partner solution for that.
- Live Chat – you’ll need a partner solution for that.
- Chatbots – you’ll need a partner solution for that.
- Conversational AI – you’ll definitely need a partner solution for that.
- CRM system – you’ll need a partner solution for that.
- Data AI Analytics – you’ll need a partner solution for that.
- Telephony channel – you’ll need a partner solution for that.
With so many third-party systems integrating into your CX world, the job of a CX leader can feel like that of a Project Manager for partner integrations. The CX leader has to manage and balance all of these partner systems, ensuring they give value for money whilst aligning and supporting the Customer Strategy. No pressure.
But firstly, to kick off each project you need to source and select a solution that is right for you and your company! These are big decisions that have a huge impact on the company and more often than not will tie you into annual contracts.
When choosing which solution is best for you and which partner to go with, you will no doubt have a criteria checklist to be able to compare them against each other. This will enable you to present your findings to the board and give a clear reason why the business should use some of its coveted budget to sign up with your chosen partner. The list will show the Pros and Cons and include things like the costs, functionality, support, flexibility, and integration (maybe a bit of projected ROI if you’re really on it at this stage).
The items on this list will all be tangible and very much required for the business. But you also need to consider the PEOPLE.
As the title of this short article suggests:
PEOPLE DO BUSINESS WITH PEOPLE
When choosing a partner to support your CX program, you must make sure that you like the people within the team you will be working with. To make the partnership a success, you have to work well together and trust and respect one another, just like in any relationship.
A successful partnership will lead to successful CX results for the business – and importantly, a successful result for all parties. This statement sounds obvious but time and time again in multiple organisations, I have seen decisions made based on the tangibles, with no question as to which partner the CX team would most like to work with. (COOs/CEOs and Directors take note; ask the CX team what THEY want.)
Of course, you do have to choose the right solution that will work for the business, but with so much variety out there, this is a buyers’ market! You don’t have to ‘make do’ with the first option you find. Unless you are planning something never done before, really unique and super bespoke, there will be multiple partners out there offering similar solutions; you have options. Right now, CX teams are spoilt for choice, so you really can afford to find and select partners you really enjoy working with.
Remember that success doesn’t just mean great business benefits, costs saved, increased revenue or customer sentiment, it is also what you and the team get out of it… you have to enjoy working with these 3rd party suppliers.
In fact, the people sometimes matter more than the solution. Bold statement I know, but it’s true. If you don’t see yourself working well with the people, don’t sign up to use their solution.
From experience, I know all too well that you can be paying for the best solution on the market, but it is pointless to pay the premium price if you are not utilising the solution to your best advantage. There will be elements of the solution you are not using, and tricks and tips to help you really get the most out of the solution for your company, but if your partner doesn’t care… they won’t tell you about them.
This isn’t a dig at partners, but instead a celebration of the great partners* out there who really take the time to know, build relationships with and support the CX teams. Over the years, I’ve come to realise that people matter the most in business; if all parties believe in the same cause, share similar values and care for one another, then there is no stopping you. Great things will happen.
*Thank you to all of the great partners (people) that I have had the pleasure of working with or crossing paths with over the years.