Category: Best Customer Service Award
Nominee: Client Support Team
Company Name: SB Software
Company: SB Software
1) Executive Summary
SB Software is the developer of Vendmanager, the best vending management system there is.
As technology specialists, providing the software and hardware to manage the data that is the lifeblood of vending, effective customer service is vital to the success of our clients’ – and our own – business.
Our customers are vending operators of various size. Not all of them have specialist technical resources in-house. But every one of them is working in a business environment that is increasingly intense. Time is money. So, finding the right answers to their operational requirements quickly is essential. And that is the responsibility every day of our Customer Support Team, headed by Tom Howarth.
We like it when our clients tell us that we provide excellent customer service whether by phone, email or face to face. And they do so often – both spontaneously, or in response to enquiries from us (we would hate to labour on blindly unaware of any problems, so we make it a point to ask all our client base for feedback systematically.)
The comments that are made most often are that we:
– Take care to solve any issues however long it takes (we “go the extra mile”).
– Always provide personal contact, with named individuals owning each challenge through to resolution.
– Combine technological support and human engagement seamlessly (fusing for example remote monitoring and control of hardware/software with realtime phone conversations.)
Alongside such qualitative analysis, we monitor metrics to assess quantitatively how we are progressing. Starting from a position that has long been more than satisfactory, we are pleased that all trends are continuing to show further ongoing improvement.
So, what do we do in a situation where clients tell us that our customer service is already excellent, and impartial analysis confirms this? We invest significant additional resources in making customer service better still – through a transformation that is both evolutionary and revolutionary. The reason? Because in the end, customer service IS our business.
Our objective is to help clients to be “simply better”. And we plan to be ever more successful ourselves, by making that happen.
2) Customer Service at SBS – Vendmanager: Today
Set SB Software alongside any comparable technology business in any other sector, and you will see that:
– The helpline phones rarely ring.
– There are not many incoming emails asking for support.
– Exchanges with users via whatever medium are to the point, but usually in-depth (taking whatever time is required) and always cordial.
– Whenever SBS staff cannot find a resolution on the spot, they commit to ring back promptly with the right answer. And they do.
The system in action has been evolved by Tom Howarth, Head of Customer Support, as the company has grown, starting from the days when he, solo, was the whole customer support “department.” Nowadays it is a full team – one that has increased significantly as the company has grown. And today, the same Tom is also leading the initiative to revolutionise the way that we do things – to transform our customer service, without losing all the good things that have helped to bring us so far.
This quantum change is possible only now that we have reached a scale where we can leverage resources (personnel, turnover, time) further. Now we can do things better still. And the transformation is already underway.
3) Customer Service Tomorrow
Key principles that underpin the sea change in customer service already underway at SBS include:
– Take customer service, user support, account management, client engagement, performance improvement. Where does one end and the next finish? We don’t see these as individual islands in an archipelago. We are one company, and for externals every single touch-point with SBS matters alike: each encounter shapes their experience and opinion of what we offer.
– Customer service is more than “just” a department. It is a frame of mind that runs through each of us at Vendmanager like a message through a stick of rock. It’s in the DNA of all of us here. This will not change.
– Satisfying customer enquiries or problems effectively and efficiently is good. It’s essential. Cutting them off at source is even better. Pre-emptive client support removes potential issues before they become issues at all.
– Process improvements like ticketing systems and knowledge management have their role to play – they accelerate issue resolution. But they are no substitute for genuine support and service overseen by real humans. We need and want both.
– Enabling users to do what they already know they want to do is part of our job. Helping them to do ever more (pushing Vendmanager further) is a key part of our mission.
To bear witness to these principles in practice:
– Recruitment has prioritised customer service – we recognise that we need bandwidth to deliver these changes without jeopardising current high standards.
– Every month we send out a newsletter by email, including “Did You Knows?” These are features of Vendmanager that may be new to users. In August 2018 we will reach Did You Know #40.
– We are now embedding support videos into Vendmanager itself, available on tap whenever they are most useful.
– We are “bottling” the accumulated expertise from across our company, and making it easily accessible to each of us, as needed.
– Our new CRM system goes far beyond the typical commercial priorities of new business development to embrace existing customer service too, including for example the scheduled visitation programme that underpins current client visits on-site.
– Our Software Migration System (SMS) makes everything simple and efficient as quickly and economically as possible for our new clients as they first come on board, by providing a dedicated SBS team and ten-step programme for every new implementation. We take the strain so that clients don’t need to.
Every working day, we set out to help clients to be “simply better.”
With customer service, we believe passionately in applying the same core principle to ourselves too. Throughout. It’s good already, now how can we make it simply better?
The process will never end.