Deciding to buy a transportation management system (TMS) is a big decision and there are a lot of factors to consider. One area of consideration that, at times, can be overlooked is the type of customer support the company will provide after implementation. This is an important question because it can impact the ability to maximize a TMS investment. Not every TMS provider has a customer support team, so make sure you ask a lot of direct questions about the company’s support program.
Building the Partnership
As a customer begins the initial process of utilizing new software, there is a period of time spent ramping up on system knowledge and working through day-to-day operations. But the real value of a software partner can be found in the days and weeks after the learning phase. Whether that hits two months or 12 months after you go-live, your software partner should be ready to start exposing other areas of value to increase your return on investment.
When it comes to driving value out of the partnership there are two types of support: tactical and strategic. The combination will ensure you are covering basic blocking and tackling while also establishing a vision for the future.
Here are Some Common Tactical Support Questions
- What new functionality do I need assistance setting up?
- What problems arise in the daily process that could be avoided by implementing a new piece of the technology or modifying my current setup?
- Why isn’t my current setup working the way I expected?
These questions are addressed by the tactical relationship the provider has with their customer and drives the business forward daily. Troubleshooting and problem solving is the responsibility of the customer support team. When evaluating a company’s customer support program ask about these common standards of support.
- Ease of requesting help
- Team members professionalism
- Seamless escalation of incidents
- Single point of contact through resolution
- Self-service materials for basic functions
Relationship managers are key to the ongoing and long-term vision of the partnership. They open the conversation to understand your current and future business needs and drive strategic questions for consideration.
Strategic Questions to Consider
- What business changes are coming up in the organization that could be addressed by the partner’s technology or services?
- What are we not taking advantage of today that would be of interest?
- How could we change business process to better align?
- How are my other customers handling similar issues?
As your advocate, the relationship manager will act as your voice internally to give your perspective on future development. This person should also act as a “priority manager,” someone who ensures you are implementing and seeing results from your recent projects.
What’s Your Communication Rhythm?
Remember, this is a partnership and you want to have a communication rhythm to keep everyone on the same page. Set a frequency of contact with your software partner. Tactical contact engages almost daily, but could also benefit from a monthly review of outstanding items. From the strategic perspective, some companies want to meet quarterly, while others only need to set a vision twice a year. Establishing those communication guidelines will lead to continued success to maximize your investment.
Nick Roberts is the Senior Manager of Client Services at LeanLogistics. With more than 16 years of experience in the supply chain industry, Nick has worked in the retail, manufacturing, and logistics technology fields. His goal is to ensure his customers are fully leveraging LeanLogistics’ technology platform and services.