This article was inspired by a short talk that Adam Parry (co-founder of leading industry magazine Event Industry News) gave at the recent Virtual Event Tech Day, addressing the question 'How do I select the best virtual event platform?'. Adam contended that service is what makes or breaks a tech provider; that our industry is all about service; and that whilst great service might not come free, it does mean you can worry less about the tech and more on the things that really matter to your success. Crucially, he said we need to stop thinking about 'software as a service', and start thinking of it as 'software and a service'.
So we are speaking in a slightly different context, but Adam's words are applicable to any company in any industry looking for a software provider. So why does service matter so much?
1. Great service gives you confidence in the tech itself. If the team you are dealing with genuinely care about your success with their product, they will have put a similar level of care into developing the software. The values of the company will be rooted in their customers' success and they'll be striving to meet your needs in every aspect of your relationship with them.
2. Starting out with the tech is so much easier if you have the support and training to back you up. Engagement at the very start of your subscription might make or break the success of the product for your needs, so having a team you can rely on to smooth out any teething problems is vital.
3. And support should never stop. In this world, we're learning all of the time, the product will always be developing, our needs will always be changing, and the need for support and training never really goes away. Being onboarded is not an end-point, it's a starting point. You want a software provider that sees onboarding and support as a 365 operation for all of their customers.
4. Your subscription to X software is one of many, so you don't want managing it to take up much time and effort. You're using the software to save time and money and improve efficiency, so it needs to be doing that every step of the way. If any of your team experience a problem, a service-led provider will be determined to fix it before it causes you real stress.
5. That ethos of support extends to product development too. If the company works with and listens to their users, then they'll make the kind of improvements their users want and need. They'll be in constant conversation with their users, aware of their pain-points (as well as the things they love), and ready to make changes that will benefit you.
Software is a service! And your providers need to act like it. In a world where the tech continues to develop at an incredible rate, it's important to view a provider holistically. Sometimes, it's when the software doesn't meet your needs that you'll get most value out of it. Let's make sure we look for that service-based ethos in every relationship.