The 5 Best Questions to Ask Your Technology Partner About Customer Success
Numrah Irfan, VP, Client Success
March 24, 2022
The ability to find the right technology partner can make or break the success of your business. But, like any other quality relationship, a technology partner can be hard to find. How do you know who to choose? Where do you start?
Do you seek out some recommendations or hope that one of your management teams has worked with a great technology partner in the past?
The first piece of advice I always suggest is to look for a technology specialist that is equally focused on customer success – the success of your business goals. You want a technology partner that is not only focused on the delivery of technology services, but also why the end state outcome is important for your business and what it means for their customers.
So, if you use customer success as one of your key criteria when searching for a technology partner, I suggest these five questions as a way to see who aligns with your priorities and culture:
1. What does optimization mean? Some technology companies will talk about optimization of your technology infrastructure purely in terms of what can be reduced or where cash can be saved. This is only part of the answer. Of course, efficiency and budget are important, but first you need to talk to a partner to explain how you are using technology now, why it is used in the current way, and what are you delivering for customers with your current systems. This will allow you to build a future plan based on the best combination of delivery for your customers and productivity. Optimization should be focused on making your technology work better and harder, not just slashing the bottom line.
2. What happens when my needs change post-project deployment? Your technology partner should always be open to discussion around change and flexibility. Avoid companies that talk about five-year-plans. What were you doing five years ago? Did you plan for the way your business is running today? Find a partner that embraces flexibility from day one and is going to work with you to provide services and solutions as your business goals evolve.
3. What happens when my needs change with my company’s evolving strategy? As above, you can have a mission statement and long-term strategy, but it will evolve over time. You may develop new products or even enter into new industries. Nothing stays still for very long and it is usually technology that facilitates the ability to change rapidly. Ensure that your technology partner embraces the idea of growing with you into new areas.
4. What does my team need to be successful with a partner like Microsoft? Check the Microsoft guidelines on how technology companies can become great partners of Microsoft. Also, as other cloud provider guidelines are similar, don’t limit yourself. Remember that your MS partner, or any similar partner (AWS for example) will be obsessed with delivering technology that delivers to your customers. Work with them as a true business partner, rather than just “the IT supplier” and you will benefit from having deep insight on tap each time you ask your partner about your own customers or business strategy.
5. How do I know if we are being successful? How do you usually measure success in your own business? It will usually fall into the core buckets of Revenue, Efficiency and Risk Management. Setting up your technology partner to deliver across these categories will help. Do not get caught up installing a multi-dimensional KPI matrix between you and your IT partner. Sit with them. Talk about your strategy and how your business sees success. This will allow your IT partner to align their focus with yours.
Technology is a vital component of almost every modern business. It spans everything from ERP to CRM to customer experience systems. A modern business would be lost without flexible and innovative IT systems so don’t contract a new IT partner without first asking them ‘what’s your idea of customer success?’
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