Mark Petty

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Mark Petty: Sales & Marketing Director at Littlefish



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4 signs you’ve found a long-term partner to support your business

25/05/2018


How CIOs can identify partners who will add value from suppliers who are in it for themselves.

Come together

Some things are just better together. Fish and chips. Lennon and McCartney. Gin and Tonic. Morecambe and Wise. Combine the right things and magic happens. And that’s true in business too.

No company can exist in complete isolation. Every business, no matter what size, relies on its suppliers and partners to provide expertise, resources, and skills that your business cannot deliver on its own (or chooses not to). The real question is: how can you work out which providers will go through the motions, looking to further their own interests; and which suppliers will become true partners, an extension of your internal team, as invested in your success as you are?

In this blog we’ll run through four ways you can tell you’ve found a friend for life whose business is to make your business better – and how you can spot the providers who are in it for themselves. After all, why settle for playing The Frog Chorus when your business could be The Beatles?

1. Faceless call centre versus a designated, friendly team

Life’s better when you have a trusted friend you can turn to in times of need. Just as you know you can spill your guts out to a close friend over a drink when you’ve had a domestic with your other half, your users should have complete confidence that their Service Desk will listen to their IT woes and offer the right words of wisdom. Whether you get to that position of trust or not may depend on how your Service Desk is set up.

Many Service Desks operate as call centres, where your user’s call is picked up by the first available operator. This person may not know your company, what you do, or any background to the IT issue. Without this basic level of understanding, it’s difficult for the Service Desk technician to provide an optimal user experience.

This is bigger than the experience of just one user, as research has shown that 95% of people share bad customer experiences with others. We like to talk, and we like to share our experiences – both good and bad. So if one person has a bad Service Desk experience chances are they’ll tell their colleagues and confidence will quickly disappear. Your users become reluctant to contact the Service Desk, issues linger for longer, and productivity suffers as a result.

The secret is to look for a Service Desk who:

  • Offer a friendly, designated team who your users know by name (and vice versa)
  • Build up an in-depth knowledge of your users’ history, key objectives, and what they need to get their job done with each contact
  • Don’t need your users to explain each issue from scratch

And because your users have such a close affinity with your Service Desk, maybe they’ll ask them for that relationship advice too!

2. Reactively resolve issues versus proactively identify and anticipate incidents

A Service Desk shouldn’t be a passive presence in your company. Reactively responding to IT issues is far from the only task your Service Desk should be undertaking, but that’s all that some providers are prepared to do. They wait for things to fail, and then try to fix them.

Don’t let your Service Desk get away with such laziness. Look for a partner who:

  • Analyses previous issues to identify common themes
  • Proactively suggests ways to improve your operations
  • Advises on the latest security threats and gives advice to your users around cybercrime prevention and strong passwords
  • Schedules regular meetings to discuss recurring issues and how to enhance your users’ experiences

A real partner will see issues on your horizon and nullify them before they become a reality.

3. Passing the buck versus taking ownership

When you explain your issue to the person who picks up your call, only for them to pass you onto another department where you have to explain everything all over again, it’s a painful experience. But that’s how some providers work, with the first point of contact merely trafficking your query or plugging it into a queue.

A true partner doesn’t add unnecessary links to the chain. Look for a Service Desk who:

  • Resolve over 70% of issues at first point of contact
  • Shift left to find innovative solutions that put your users first
  • Have a customer satisfaction rate of 95%

A true partner will build processes that benefit your users, not ones that suit themselves.

4. Knowledge of their business versus knowledge of yours

Naturally every vendor should know their own products inside and out – but how well do they understand your business? It’s interesting to know how a solution works, but that knowledge is only useful when you can see how it applies to your organisation.

Look for a long-term partner who:

  • Invests time and effort in understanding your business, priorities, and users before pitching their products
  • Talks about your specific business objectives
  • Can clearly demonstrate the specific benefits of their offering against these observations
  • Understands there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution
  • Challenges your existing plans if they can identify better ways of achieving your goals

Good partners are easy to define, but harder to find

These four areas can be used to differentiate between great partners and average suppliers.

Are they looking at your long-term success, or simply trying to get the contract signed so they can move on to the next sale? If you work with a company more interested in its own balance sheet, or how they can extract more cash without committing to your success, they clearly have little interest in longer term outcomes – or partnership.

A true partner will understand your business strategy and their role in that plan. They will share and even celebrate your achievements, treating them as a mutual success. Choose a partner who wants to see your business grow as much as you do – or it won’t.

Takeaways

  • A closer relationship between your users and your Service Desk will lead to better performance.
  • A great partner will proactively identify and mitigate risks you didn’t even know existed.
  • A high percentage of first contact resolutions is a hallmark of a partner you can trust.
  • Your supplier should explain directly how their solution meets your specific requirements.
  • A great partner wants to see your business grow and will put your users first.

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