For decades, SFA implementations have had a higher failure rate than most other types of enterprise software. As per some leading industry research analysts, the failure rate is staggeringly high at 60%. It’ not very uncommon that a big bang go-live of a great SFA Solution is followed by gradual reduction in usage within few months and eventually a complete closure soon after resulting in complete waste of time, money and effort of so many people.
One of the biggest reasons of such failures is zero or insignificant support from the SFA vendor post implementation. This is one area which is of huge importance, but still clients miss out checking on the same before selecting an SFA solution. Let’s first try to highlight why a strong support system is important perpetually even after successful go-live:
- Helps in improving adoption or checking any drop in adoption
- Regular consultation to client on industry best practices
- Quick response to any change requested by business
- Regular health-check of the implementation and detecting early signs of failure
- Quickly solving usage related queries specially the teething problems
- A mutually beneficial eco-system where both the parties will benefit by sharing important feedbacks
So, how do you judge whether your SFA solution provider has a robust support system as well and will own the success of the implementation in the long run? We can broadly have two classifications of such support – Account Management Support & Helpdesk Support, both being equally important. Here is a more detailed analysis on the type of supports you should be looking for to get a confidence that you have selected the right vendor:
Account Management Support: Not having an account management support from the vendor is a perfect recipe for disaster. It plays a major role in driving adoption, continuous improvements with regular interaction and getting actionable insights from the solution. Broad areas covered under account management supports are:
- Functional Expertise – A great account management is usually built with people with strong background of managing large operations involving field force. Having hands-on experience in channel sales or visual merchandising operations help them to interact with client business team in a seamless way. Not only that, such expertise helps them to figure out problem statements of any client in few interactions and then suggesting a solution like a consultant would do. That’s always a great value addition for clients.
- Solution Expertise – While functional expertise helps in suggesting approaches how technology can help in solving a business problem, in-depth knowledge about the SFA Solution ensures account management also knows how the same must be configured in the system. This eventually contributes towards a successful implementation in the long run.
- Analytics Expertise – Any software implementation is successful only when business stakeholders starts seeing actionable insights from the data being captured. Deciding on how the data must be visualized is not always an easy task and most of the times calls for multiple iteration. Account Management team must be very strong in Data Analytics to help client get maximum insight from the field force operations
Helpdesk Support: The other pillar of support is the helpdesk or end-user support. This is the team which is responsible for resolving all queries reported by the field team in a very user-friendly way, even if the questions are very basic or for that matter not related to the solution at all. This is a team which gets first-hand information of how intuitive the solution is for app users and thus can provide valuable inputs to the Product Management team for UX improvements. The helpdesk support for an SFA solution must have following modes to ensure end users can reach them at any point of time without much of a hassle.
- Call Support – The most important mode of support is through telephonic calls. Ideally there should be a toll-free number and the app user should be able to dial it directly from the app without taking the pain of saving it. While it’s not possible to have a helpdesk set-up which can cater to all the languages, it is important that at least some major regional languages are covered. Also, it is always a great practice to proactively call back the users after couple of days to check if he has faced any new problem. It goes long way in driving adoption.
- Email Support – Although not many field users will use this mode, but depending on the urgency and geographic location, some may like to use email based support as well. Again, the app interface should be so designed that the user can start drafting the email simply by clicking the helpdesk email id. Even if the helpdesk team doesn’t have an immediate answer to the user’s query, it is a standard gesture to respond to the user acknowledging his concern and sharing with him a tentative timeline to resolve his query.
- Chat Support – This is one of the preferred mode of support for many users because of the advantage of real time response and easy way of communication such as sharing screenshot or other files. When properly implemented in the mobile app, Chat Support becomes very user-friendly and a great medium to quickly resolve any issue while simultaneously doing any other activity.