We've already talked a bit about what the difference between an HR technology vendor and a partner for life is in part one of this series, and today we're going to dig in deeper. We started with what the beginning of your experience with a new solution should look like when it comes to purchasing, implementation, and go-live. Now, we're going to look at where the rubber really meets the road — your long-term relationship and ongoing experience with your chosen solution provider.
Support, success, and collaboration are all key elements as you begin to build a lasting partnership around your HR technology. While the beginning of your experience and starting off on the right foot in terms of reaching time-to-value faster and easier is important, it's your ongoing experience that can make or break the total value your organization realizes from your solution.
1. When you need help
Inevitably, there will be a time when you need to reach out to your solution provider for support. Sometimes these may be basic, non-urgent questions, but other times you may be under a pressing deadline – for instance during weekly payroll or open enrollment – and you need the right answer, quickly. This is one of the areas where there is a stark difference between vendors and partners.
Vendors tend to cut corners when it comes to support. Many vendors take a call center approach to support and may outsource support abroad, reduce support hours, and/or be significantly understaffed. For some customers who may have extra technical resources in-house, the standard support experience is okay. But for customers needing a better support experience, vendors may require customers to purchase additional support options if you would like a more premium support experience.
Partners, on the other hand, invest the time and resources necessary to building a comprehensive support offering. They also understand that your success is their success, so premium options like dedicated account managers, flexible support options (chat, phone, online), and 24x7 support are included when you select their solution. They also leverage strategies that enable customers to call into the same group of technical experts and ensuring they have the right expert at the right time to resolve your issues.
2. When you need to evolve
Every organization encounters new opportunities or different challenges at any given time. During these times of change, growth, or other strategic initiatives, it’s more important than ever to understand how your organization’s technology can support your initiatives and evolve with your organization to meet your long-term goals.
Vendors tend to focus on their software alone. This means that helping customers navigate change, prepare for growth, or react to industry trends is a distant secondary priority – if it’s a priority at all. When their customers evolve, they may offer additional solutions and services but lack the strategic guidance and insights to help you understand what options may be best for your organization.
Partners instead provide more strategic success people and teams to actively help customers during times of change or growth. They also offer comprehensive services and solutions as well, but their priority is to understand your goals and proactively review your progress towards your goals to identify opportunities to improve.
3. When you have feedback
As you work with a new solution and interact with your provider, you may want to them with feedback on their solution or their experience. How a solution provider works with their customers to collect feedback and make improvements is a great indicator of how they work with their customers.
For vendors, they take a more reactive approach to feedback. Their feedback process may lack transparency or follow-up or they simply collect a CSAT score or track customer churn. Then if their metrics are trending negatively or they receive a high volume of feedback around one particular thing, they may make the investment to change or improve.
Partners understand that customer feedback and collaborating with customers is critical to continuously driving innovation into their solutions. They go beyond the traditional CSAT score and have proactive programs that actively engage customers to gather feedback to help improve their solutions and their experience, such as customer advisory boards, interviews, surveys, focus groups, and more.
Conclusion: Ensure your solution provider is in it for the long run
Searching for and implementing a new technology solution to support your HR, payroll, and workforce management goals can be daunting. But how a solution provider partner with their customers and the experience they provide can mean the difference between a wasted investment and a significant value add to your organization.
Ultimately, the difference between a vendor and a partner is the people behind their products. Vendors don’t prioritize their people, leading to high turnover and low engagement, which leads to less continuity, slower response times, and lower solution ROI. But partners know that their people are the lifeblood of their organization, and if they take care of them, they will take care of their customers. This leads to longer tenured and more engaged people – so you can develop a true partnership that delivers incredible value to your organization.