A Voice of the Customer Approach for Choosing Really Great Service Providers for Customer Experience
Customer Experience (CX) initiatives can be extremely complex or relatively straightforward – depending on whether the focus is on 1) customer experience management (CEM) by transforming the CX and reinventing customer-facing business processes across the organization, or 2) implementing technologies such as a content management system (CMS), customer analytics, or e-commerce. But no matter what the scope and focus, the possibility of failure will always exist because organizations often lack experience with key methodologies or project teams lack crucial skills for architecting and implementing CX technologies.
That’s why companies usually turn to service providers, whether it’s management consultancies, advertising agencies, marketing communications firms, public relations firms, digital agencies, or systems integrators. But not all service providers are created equal. To sort out which service provider is best to use, companies often turn to:
- Service companies they already do business with.
- Providers recommended by their technology vendors.
- Gartner’s Magic Quadrant (MQ), another tried-and-true approach.
- Forrester’s Wave, another tool buyers use.
While this may work, the risk is reasonably high that these organizations could still choose the wrong service providers. That’s because the service firms they currently work with may know little about CEM, the vendors they use may recommend the wrong partner, and MQs and Waves are imperfect tools for finding and selecting service providers. What if, instead, companies could turn to a database of suppliers that are evaluated by the voice of the customer (VOC)?
Digital Clarity Group (DCG) has created such an approach, called VOCalis, for finding and evaluating service providers, based on extensive interviews and surveys of end customers. These interviews involve structured discussions with customers from all the CEM channel partners that a vendor works with or the customers from a large number (in the hundreds) of the vendor’s leading channel partners. This from-the-ground-up, data-driven approach is much more extensive and revealing than any other methodology for finding qualified service providers. For more information about how this approach works and how to apply it to your organization, see this report on How to Choose Really Great Service Providers for Customer Experience.
Already, the VOCalis interviews are reaping great insights and detailed information about service provider performance. Here are the voices of four customers who had plenty to say that would help future buyers of professional services:
- Avoid relying on the vendor’s support staff. “We used the vendor’s own professional services only to discover that they really only understood their own products and not how they [their products’] integrate and run with other systems. We ended up having a very difficult time and wish we had disengaged with them sooner. Ultimately we brought in another service provider that turned the situation around in a couple of months. In our opinion [the second firm] knew as much, if not more, about the technology vendor’s systems than the vendor itself.”
- Be careful when services providers are deeply embedded with your own senior executive team. “It took us two years to remove a major system integrator from the project due to their influence over our most senior management. Once we finally did remove them from our project we discovered we had to rip and replace two years of development code.”
- Watch out for a revolving door of service personnel. “Not one member of the original service provider team assigned to us remained at the end of the project – they continuously swapped out key team members without telling us. At the end of 18 months, we were working with the fourth project manager they had assigned to us.”
- Beware of the digital agency who is out of their depth “We selected a midsized and well respected digital agency to work on our project. They were great people and did some awesome design work, but both we and the service provider soon came to the realization that they were out of their depth meeting our complex requirements.”