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Relayware Partner Relationship Management

Great Support Builds Partner and Customer Loyalty

Posted on December 24, 2013 by Chris Bucholtz

The first secret to create customer loyalty is to deliver a great product or service that does what you say it will do. But the second secret is to provide excellent customer service.

Ask any really successful service organization what makes it succeed and you’ll hear one word: training. That doesn’t mean that your support agents know everything – but they know answers to the most frequently-asked questions, and they know where to find answers to the things they don’t know. That requires a well-organized knowledgebase. For success to continue, you need to constantly update both agent training and your knowledgebase.

Even for vendors supporting direct sales, that can be a tough order. Now, imagine you’re a channel partner, and your vendor is not giving you the help you need to provide service for that vendor’s products. That leaves you constantly ad-libbing to try to help your customers, making up solutions on a case-by-case basis. There’s no institutional memory; every support case is a new one. Response times are slow, and agent frustration – and resulting churn – is high. Without vendor support, there’s no light at the end of that tunnel.

If you’re a vendor, there are several dire results of this scenario. First, your channel partners aren’t happy and they may start looking for a vendor who’s easier to work with. Next, your end customers aren’t getting the support they deserve; this creates a scenario in which your brand suffers with customers, and if they switch it won’t be to another partner that carries your products. They’ll remember the bad service they received, and their switch will be to a different vendor’s products.

And, behind the scenes, word of your service training failings will get around – so you also face a new hurdle in recruiting new partners.

It doesn’t have to be so – if you have three things in place. First, you need a strategic approach to training for your partners’ support organizations. Second, you need the technology to provide training and to house the knowledgebase.

Third – and perhaps the most important element of this trio – is a determination to keep the process of training constantly updated and road-ready for your partners. This is not a fire-and-forget element of your channel management strategy; it’s something you need to continue developing just as your products (and your customers) develop.

Think of it this way: you create a good customer support experience in order to build customer loyalty. If you want to foster loyalty among your channel partners, create a good customer support experience for them as well by keeping training and your knowledgebase thorough and up to date.