Everyone knows that support in the learning system space as a whole is below average. Sure there are vendors who do an exceptional job, but the fact still remains that the number one reason, people leave one learning system vendor for another is support/service.
This isn’t new. It has been the same issue for nearly two decades and yet, time after time, it seems as though vendors and even consumers fail to recognize the importance of it until it is too late.
Consumers rarely ask in-depth questions about support when they do their RFPs. They focus heavily on security, functionality, and learning use cases, including business – all rightly so – you should. However, you must ask the right questions around support beyond what times do they offer it, what types do they offer, does the administrator receive free training, and so forth.
The industry itself does a poor job of monitoring it across the board. I talk to vendors all the time, who say publicly they have great support, but privately acknowledge it is either poor or below average. Other learning system vendors will note again privately that they landed X number of customers from the Y vendor, all due to support issues.
I am working right now, with three consumer clients, all of which cited as a key factor for wanting to leave their current system, was due to the lack of support and service.
Something has to be done to ensure that when you purchase a learning system, you will know first and upfront the level of customer service and support – due to the Customer Excellence Pledge (it is a badge), from well, me.
What is the Customer Excellence Pledge?
It is a program developed by myself, Craig Weiss, to identify learning system vendors, and non-learning system vendors for that matter, who promise to provide elite customer service and support, beyond just telling their prospects and customers and anyone else for that matter, they do.
Nobody will go and buy a car or any consumer product, if the company behind it says, “Yeah our support stinks, but hey, we want your business”. Everyone says it is great, leaving you, the customer, assuming it is. And therein lies the problem.
The Customer Excellence Pledge puts forth a set of statements a vendor has to adhere to – via a signed agreement with checkpoints to validate, the ongoing level of elite support.
What are those statements that a vendor has to adhere to, in the Customer Excellence Pledge?
There are four key statements, plus an additional two validation checks – after all, saying you will do it, is one thing, backing it with data and insight is another. The CEP will provide that.
Vendors who sign the Customer Excellence Pledge – and thus have a Badge appear on their site and even mentioned in their pitch (if they so desire) are telling you, that they will promise to:
- Provide exceptional customer support and service
- Maintain high ethical standards in sales, service, and business
- Take care of customer’s needs and assistance in a timely fashion – this includes response times (no more than 120 minutes, during vendor’s business hours, daily follow-ups if applicable, providing the customer on how their queue works (in other words, what is considered low, medium and high).
- Provides the customer with a customer support/service member or team. This person or group of folks will be the customer’s point of contact. Eliminating the game of “who can help me, where do I go” – a huge problem in the industry.
How will The Craig Weiss Group, be able to validate that those who sign the agreement are actually living up to it, and following thru?
Multiple checkpoints are in place. They consist of the following (which a vendor must agree to – in writing – i.e. signing of the Customer Excellence Pledge.
- Provide twice a year, data that presents the following information: response times, follow-up, and the number of support calls.
- Present twice a year, (i.e. every six months), the top five issues that have arisen (or they can present a list, and we can go thru it), and the average amount of time to solve those issues. This enables us again, to see if a constant pattern is showing up and that despite the commitment, the vendor still hasn’t figured out how to solve it.
- Present twice a year, the average number of calls/email in to support compared to the number of clients. This is a ratio, I use when considering a vendor for an award. Every vendor has this data, a lot never want to tell you, not even me. I always find that troubling.
- If a vendor does NPS, provide the sample, the number of supporters, passives, and detractors. Explain how the sample was selected and how do they follow up with those customers. Vendors nowadays love to publish their NPS, yet always seem to leave out the percentage of passives and detractors.
None of this information will be made public, however, they will either have a badge on their site (telling you they are a CEP or you can always check my blog page.
What if we, as the customer, sign with a vendor, and they are failing to adhere to what they say they will do?
Simple, you let us know via email.
We will put them on our list and monitor if there are customer complaints, and how many, etc. If we see a high level of customer complaints, we will notify the vendor to see, what happened, etc. There are plenty of times, people complain publicly, but never notify the vendor of the issue. The vendor can’t help if they do not know.
If I want my vendor to be on the program, what should I do?
Tell them. Vendors will always or at least should listen to their clients. If you are a prospect ask them why they are not on it.
Will there be vendors who say they are and are not?
Perhaps. It is hard to know at this point, but to verify if they are, you can go to the page on the blog, which will be listed as Customer Excellence – and see who is on the list. If they are not there, they are not part of the program.
Does it cost a vendor to be on or sign the agreement or anything else?
No. Absolutely not. This isn’t about generating money, this is about a vendor backing up what they say, with tangible results and a signed pledge agreement.
Do vendors have to be on FindAnLMS to be a part of the pledge?
No. We would love for them to be on the platform, but it is not a requirement.
Are there any ways to find out if a vendor is on the program?
Yes. We have a page dedicated to all the vendors who have signed the agreement. The page will be continuously updated.
If I am a vendor and I want to sign up for the pledge, what do I need to do?
Contact me – here. Then I will reach out to you, provide the agreement and then send you the badge (it will be available by the end of next week).
When, can I see who is on the list?
We recognize that not everyone will jump to it right away, after all, it is something never tried or done before in the industry. So, it will take time. We recommend that if a vendor you are looking at is not on the list, that you ask why, and if they are unaware, you provide them the link to this blog and to this post (which will be on the top of the site) – very visible. Or you can have them contact me.
If I am not a learning system vendor, but I want to sign the pledge can I?
Absolutely. We will break out on our pages, by category, so if you are an authoring tool, it is listed under that category, content provider, etc.
Our goal is to make the pledge the gold standard for support.
The Customer Excellence Pledge brings together a level of commitment from a learning system vendor or any other e-learning tool/solution/content provider around customer service and support.
It isn’t just a signed agreement.
It will be more than that.
Publicly telling you, the customer and prospect, that they are going the extra mile.