Who hasn’t been stuck in auto-phone-system purgatory for hours or been routed to a first-line customer support rep who knew less about the product you were using than you did? In other cases, your only option for customer support might have been to post a message on an online forum or ticket system and then wait for somebody to email you back. Unless you’ve somehow avoided making any purchases of products or services for the last decade or so, you’ve probably regretted some choices you’ve made when it came time to get help from customer service.
How to Evaluate Customer Service Before You Commit
If you develop critical applications with tight deadlines, strict budgets, people’s jobs, and your company’s reputation on the line, you certainly can’t afford to wait to resolve problems with your development platform. That’s why it’s so important to evaluate your future vendor’s customer service capability before you commit to become a customer and devote valuable resources to new tools.
Effective Tips to Check Customer Service Before You Become a Customer
Here’s the good news. The mobile phone in your pocket probably offers you all of the resources you need to perform your due diligence before you make a purchase decision. You can spend a little bit of time evaluating customer service before you make a commitment and save yourself a lot of grief later:
Call the Customer Support Line
You’re free to call the customer support phone number (and not the sales phone number) to learn more about how the company will treat you after you’ve become a customer. See how long it takes to get a response to your call. If you’re especially cautious, try making calls at different times of the day and even different days of the week.
While you’ve got your support person on the phone, ask them some questions about the product you’re considering and the typical support process. For instance, you may want to learn if that support person handles most issues or simply routes questions up the chain. How much time does it take to reach support staff conversed in the actual product you’re considering? Can you reach them directly?
If possible, engage your tech in a conversation about how long they’ve been employed in their role, background and intended career path. That way, you can find out if you’ll be dealing with professional support technicians or people whose main jobs simply consist of taking messages.
Ask the Sales Rep About Support
To really get value out of your purchase, you’ll want to work with software companies that consider their support a competitive advantage. Find out if the company outsources support or retains their own staff. You can even ask the sales rep if they can give you internal metrics on average response times and resolution rates. Find out what support options you can use, like automatic debugging tools, phone support, emails, a ticket system that’s integrated into the product and so on.
Search Online for Experiences from Other End-Users
When you want to hire a plumber or find a new restaurant as a consumer, you probably check online review sites like Yelp. When you want to learn more about software, you can check tech review website like G2 Crowd. Additionally, you could also search social networks and tech forums for user comments.
Naturally, you won’t believe everything that you read on the internet; however, you can read between the lines to see patterns and key concerns that can be factored into your decision and/or clarified with your sales rep.
When you make important service choices as a consumer, you probably take the time to check references from your neighbors or online. You can certainly ask your tech sales rep for references from similar companies to yours. Ask these other developers how long they have been customers, how often they need to contact support, and how quickly issues get resolved. The stories you’ll hear from active users of the platform will probably give you the best way to anticipate your own experiences.
If you want to get really serious about this reference check, try to vet a few “blind references.” That is, find some end-users that haven’t already been prepped by your sales rep for “happy reference” calls. This can require a little digging. Perhaps you can scour some of the reviews from G2 Crowd and find someone from a company in your network? Getting the inside story from real end-users can be enlightening.
What Should You Learn About Tech Support Before You Buy?
Finally, before you commit to purchase development software, you could make a checklist to help you compare your options. This outline should help you get started:
- Review support-level agreements: For instance, how do you and the vendor classify the various types of support tickets? Do they promise acceptable response times commensurate with the severity of given issues?
- Understand the support process and workflow: Are your emails and calls routed through a call answering service staffed with people who simply route messages and work to reach other staff? Are there online resources to research issues such as knowledgebases or developer communities? Are there built-in mechanisms within the product to speed and enable the support rep in assisting you?
- Learn about support enabling technology: For example, LANSA has screen-sharing technology, so the support technician can see on their screen exactly what you see on your screen. You won’t have to wait for the tech to duplicate an error because he or she can view the issue exactly as it occurs for you.
- Are they there for you when you need them? If your applications are mission critical, they need to be up and available 24/7. So does your support. How does your vendor handle after-hours problem tickets?
The Value of LANSA Customer Support
With LANSA, your support technician can see exactly what you see. LANSA has been innovating secure data connectivity and efficient support tools much longer than most rivals have been operating.
The LANSA customer support team consists of a worldwide team of incredibly experienced professionals with an unparalleled passion for customer care. You’ll be in very good hands. But don’t just take our word for it, prove it to yourself.