“Our software is killing us,” says Garth, an overzealous team lead who might attain his grand career aspirations once he controls his bad breath.
You know he’s right. But where do you start?
After you pass Garth a mint, you need to put on your thinking cap.
Before you launch a RFP and walk the gauntlet of demos and shuffle beyond myriad of feature function check-boxes, there are a few key areas to explore.
The most important one is: your customer, be they internal or external.
Your team may have many reasons for not liking your system. Perhaps your customers do as well. Some customers may touch your software often, some may not. With the proliferation of self-service tools, they ought to be interacting with it regularly. Who wants to pick up the phone and check on the status of an order or return? In our Amazonifed world, self-service functionality is king. If they aren’t interacting with your software or its outputs with some frequency, that is a first clue your current software isn’t stacking up.
You also need to do a little sleuthing around lost accounts. Was your software part of the reason for the loss? From there, look at non-selection of prospective business. Were there systematic limitations that prevented you from being selected? Understanding the why they left or why they didn’t select you tells you where your software isn’t making the grade.
When it comes to hunting for new business, your software should be part of your value proposition, not something that makes you sweat when the topic comes up. A granular analysis of potential software issues should also be conducted on service failures and other current and past customer complaints. Can’t access these complaints and failures easily?Ah, perhaps there is another clue your software is failing you. Even if you have multiple software packages you need this information at your fingertips.
How do we get answers to these questions? The best ways are to pick up the phone and create an electronic survey. The phone call will allow you to understand the emotional side of the software interactions and the survey will give you a boatload of data.
Also, make sure to query a range of people within your customer’s organization. Everyone has an opinion. Asking multiple people, the same question should help you determine what is real and what is personal bias.
To get you started on the survey, here are five bits of data you need to understand about your software as well as your clients.
You’ll need to think through how you ask this question as the customer may not necessarily know where the information they are getting is coming from. A simple question might be: “How confident are you that when your order ships, you’ll get an email from us notifying you of the shipment?” If the software isn’t reliable, no one is going to depend on the information generated by it. Customers will typically use other labor-intensive approaches such as a telephone call.
How accurate is the information your customers gets from your software? Again, you may need to think about how to phrase this question such as, “How accurate are the monthly reports we send you?” If the information you are supplying your customer isn’t accurate most of the time, you’re having customer service issues. That results in more phone calls and emails to your team asking questions and running up labor costs. And, if they don’t trust your data, they are probably using work-arounds, such as MS Excel (ugh!).
There is an uncanny ability in the software industry to ask users to input a lot of data, either manually or through integration. Until more recently, being able to view this data was not readily available. Ask your customers: “When they need information, how easy it is to access? Can they get all the information they need? If not, what is missing?”
When it comes to cost, “what is your software costing your customers?” Maybe there will be the intangible costs of “I just don’t like your customer portal”. More likely, there will be tangible costs your customer is incurring. The short-shipped orders, the myriad of telephone calls and emails, the MS Excel spreadsheet rodeos. At best it is costing them real labor. At worst, they are bleeding customers because of it.
The Crystal Ball
Ask your customer: “what will you need tomorrow?” If you decide to buy new software aimed at today’s requirements, you could own yesterday’s software by the time your implementation is complete. Ask your customers what they see their needs to be in the future – from months to years. Again, ask a cross section of individuals in your customer’s organization. Your customer’s CFO and Customer Service Manager will give you different answers because their needs are different.
Performing this exercise will give you a good idea of where you stand with your customers and not just purely from a software perspective.
So, now that you have an idea of what your customer needs from your software, what’s next? Your organization’s software needs.
At Infolog, we believe in the art of simplicity. And we practice that daily, infusing technology into our Logistics and Supply Chain software. The result is streamlined workflows and superior information visibility. Simply put we are all about increasing productivity. Contact Infolog today to find out more.