It was interesting to read Monica’s Bay’s post from LegalTech West Coast, she recited a survey from 2010 showing that 77% of prospects regard customer service as their primary reason for choosing a vendor. I have no doubt that’s what buyers believe, how it is determined pre-sale is a little difficult to determine. All vendors have a list of happy clients, just ask them.
I’d like to talk about how to be a happy customer, one that probably also gets “good service” from their vendors. In my 30+ years in dealing with law firm technology, many times I could just spot a customer who was never going to get “good service” from any vendor. Why is that, let’s see what’s wrong.
Here is what I observed:
- Poor homework and missed expectations. Some firms just need a new system, their current one is old and a new one will surely handle their needs. They are unable to clearly articulate their exact needs, business problems, workflow, attorney needs etc. Therefore all the products they see look better than what they have.
Since there is little in the way of differentiation, they choose the least expensive one. Of course, 6 months to a year later they are unhappy and the vendor is at fault. Lesson: Do your homework, don’t make a selection until you have identified your exact needs and assured yourself that the vendor can fulfill all known requirements. Demand to see the keystroke process to handle your requirements. It’s real easy to say yes, my product allows the user to change attorney fee allocations on a cash receipt, however when you go through the process you see that it’s not at all what you have in mind. Want to be happy, make sure your expectations are in-line with the product.
- Take responsibility and ownership. The moment you implement a new system, it’s “your” system. Take ownership of the product, get properly trained, no short-cuts. Unfortunately when firms go live on complex systems the immediate priority is to get the basics accomplished, this is completely nderstandable.
However, 3-6 months later many firms are using the new system like their old system, meaning they are not taking advantage of the process re-engineering that might have justified the new purchase in the first place. I’ve been in countless meetings with clients where client #1 will say, how come the system can’t do “X”, and client #2 says, oh yes it can, we’ve been doing it for years. Lesson: Get trained, and stay trained. Talk to other users, use a User’s Group forum to find ways to improve your processes and solve problems. Go to conferences; hire the vendor or a consultant to examine your best practices. Remember it’s now Your system.
- It’s still all about people. Why do some people call the same help desk with similar questions and come away with completely different experiences? Many times it about just good old fashion people skills. I’ve experienced customers who have never had a nice thing to say on the phone, never said thank you and are ill prepared to even describe the issue they are calling about. Then you wonder why they don’t get “good service” from their vendor. Lesson: Form a good relationship with the help desk and management of the vendor, be polite and demanding at the same time. Do your best to explain the issue you are calling about, ask for a resolution timeframe. Some problems are minutes to fix, others aren’t even fixable anytime soon (hopefully the non-fixable ones have graceful work-rounds).
Many times happy customers what to be happy customers and know how to become happy customers. I can assure you that most vendors who are time-tested will do everything they can do to help YOU become a happy customer.