What Customers Want From Partners

Customers
I attended a Convergence Pre-Game customer panel session where 4 customers talked about “what customers want from partners”. I heard some really good insights into what customer’s really want and expect from partners.

The session opened with the moderator asking “What one word describes your expectation for a long term, positive relationship with your partner.

  • Amaze!
  • Communication
  • Experience
  • Initiative

Below are my general notes regarding additional feedback and expectations.

  • Don’t send in junior consultants that are not experienced, we want people that know what they are doing.
  • Each customer has changed partners looking for the right fit (this spells opportunity)
  • Customers generally have their top people engaged, we expect the partners to do so as well.
  • Customers don’t like it when the courting phase is over. Don’t make it obvious when your energies have switched to other customers, projects, new stuff.
  • Partners like to trump their experience..they all say we have done thousands of implementations..the customer perspective is then “oh then we are just one if thousands”.
  • We just helped one of your competitors…that gets our attention.
  • Pair the right resources…if the customer person is technical then make sure the main person that interacts is technical.

On SOW’s and contracts.

  • Give good estimates.
  • Approach with a win win mentality.
  • Strive for a partnership.
  • Sign off on all documents.
  • Get people to sign off on initial project and on any changes.
  • Make the investment on the front side, drill into the needs then give us the pricing.
  • If projects are hourly, itemize the billing and don’t be too general.
  • Giving options is a good thing, but, recommend as well.
  • Be clear about what the customer can do realistically and what the partner can or should do. Let us know what can be done out of box, or if something is fairly simple. Give us some ownership.
  • What sources of information do customers find useful: CRMUG, collaborate with the customers, books, blogs, conferences.
  • Black and Veatch, ALL of their projects and consulting work is fixed fee AND they get a 30 day warranty.
  • Works best for them to have fixed fee…ranges are a problem.
  • Requirements must be clear.
  • A couple are ok with hourly, but for smaller projects and where the requirements may be a little loose.

Best approach from a people/person approach is to have an account manager as a single point of contact. Prefer it. It should not be the consultant or technical resource. It’s a value add person, NOT billable!

Most like over communication…feel like the partner cares…too often partners take too long to respond or provide updates, particularly on issues. Don’t make me call you to get a status update. Even if you say “we are still working on it”, this is ok.

Confront brutal facts and issues up front and head on….don’t wait.

SLAs?

  • Yes, expected and do track them.

Online tracking systems?

  • Yes, prefer to have online tracking for anytime, anywhere communication.
  • Also want to talk to someone Easier for me to wait if i see it online.
  • When I reach out to you, it’s important!

Training and other best practices

  • Separate sow for training, implementation and other stuff
  • Training up front, before the project starts, helps with developing requirements.
  • Want to see “English” design documents, easy to read, not just technical, execs need to read/understand them
  • Ask if customer has resources to translate technical docs to simpler docs
  • Ok with cutting back on some documentation.
  • Don’t discourage us from using features.
  • Customer should NEVER be more excited about the product than they are.
  • The partner should be major proponents and cheer leaders for the product.

What we expect

  • Integrity, customer focused, fair, honest, dependable, drive to success, amaze us, be creative, deliver measurable ROI, really understand our processes and help us improve them.

Do more than just implement. Look for partners that talk about CRM, that blog, have good content, do more than just implement.

Shared values. Flexibility. Give us the time and attention based on our needs. It cycles so be flexible.

Be proactive with solutions. Help,me make the right decision.

All in all some really great insights and well worth paying attention to!

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