Everybody remembers a great service experience. It may have been at a restaurant where a waiter never allowed your glass to be empty or at a physician’s office where a doctor actually took the time to truly listen. On the other hand, we also remember bad service experiences, where the waiter was never around or the doctor showed up for two minutes but the bill was the equivalent of $1,000 an hour.

Customers approach business with an expectation of service.  Your goal is to exceed it.

Good customer service is about preparing for what you can and adapting to unexpected circumstances. Courtesy of de-motivational-posters.com

Marketing Professors have labeled the difference between these two experiences the “Zone of Tolerance.” When customers approach an interaction with a firm, they usually have an expected service zone. For certain types of business, customers are more tolerant of the lack of service. With others, customers expect more. Frequently, this difference is correlated with the amount of money a customer is spending with a vendor (McDonalds has low service expectations while doctors are high).

Due to the variability of experiences, customers have a hard time determining their zone of tolerance for software companies. The service levels provided by most software companies tends to be all over the map. Of course, good service will always be recognized by the consumer when they see it. Software Companies that really want to differentiate themselves need to figure out ways to consistently deliver high quality service.

At Bi101, our experience has shown that companies that have invested in professional services automation software are better equipped to exceed customer service expectations. Professional services automation software can help software companies provide better service in the following ways:

Real Time Reporting

Software implementations require consistent communication with the customer about status and progress. To do this, most professional service groups setup a weekly meeting where project status and updates are shared with the client. However, by the time the update meeting is over, the reports are already outdated and will not be updated until the next meeting.

Alternatively, using professional services automation software, the customer can receive daily communication regarding project status. These reports are created in real time and contain the latest project status. This type of reporting exceeds customer expectations.

On Time Project Delivery

A simple way to deliver above average customer service is to deliver a project on time. In this area, professional services automation software can also help.

Professional services automation software provides project managers and senior management a powerful set of dashboard reporting tools. Using these tools, management can be alerted when milestones are missed and the project is off track. This allows managers to react sooner to changing project conditions and make the necessary adjustments to get the project back on track.

In addition, professional services automation software also provides sales with the ability to review the accuracy of their forecasting in past projects, and adjust the future appropriately. Increased accuracy will help with on-time project delivery.

Most software companies do not spend enough time thinking about the customer service they are providing. This gives a differentiating advantage to those that do. Implementing professional services automation software will give companies an even greater advantage in providing service.

Software companies can exceed the the zone of tolerance with professional services automation software

The zone of tolerance can be acceptable, but is far from ideal. Courtesy of sloanreview.mit.edu

Bi101 is here to help companies understand the role software can play to improve business. Contact us if you want to know more. [subscribe2]