An area that we would like to call attention to, especially for first-time TEM program enterprise management teams is the importance of customer service. Many TEM leaders with prior TEM provider experience have endured poor customer service within a TEM program because it is all too common within the industry.
We cannot stress enough how important great customer service is to build out and maintain a powerful and sustainable TEM program throughout the entire TEM lifecycle for your organization. By having strong customer service support, your team will enjoy many benefits, let’s just name a few at this point:
Why is Customer Support so Important?
It may take up to a year or more in a typical TEM sales cycle to build enough trust to get an enterprise TEM prospect to sign on with a TEM. The best TEM providers will keep a sensitive thermometer on the happiness of their customers daily and a tight leash on themselves – meaning the quality of their customer service – knowing how difficult it is to gain new customers.
It’s a much better growth strategy to keep your existing customers happy so that you can re-sign them at the end of a typical 3-year agreement and keep the relationship and recurring revenue over the long term (e.g., 6 years, 9 years, or more).
Here are a few highlights of what good TEM customer service provides:
Let’s review in greater context four reasons why you must have strong customer service from your incoming TEM provider to have a healthy and strong ongoing TEM program.
4 Reasons Why You Need Excellent TEM Customer Support
1. TEM performance is driven by more than technology alone
Human capital and intervention are necessary at all stages within a successful TEM program. The great F16 jet needs a great jet fighter, which requires significant training, knowledge, and skill.
Technology cannot run itself and push itself to its outer limits. So, the TEM platform will not be enough. Experienced and talented support personnel are required to maximize the technology’s use and add tremendous value in terms of industry knowledge they can bring to bear within the TEM program.
TEM Technology Expertise: A strong TEM firm with a powerful TEM platform will have staff who possess the expertise to configure the application to your organization’s unique needs.
And these team members are best positioned to solve any/all these challenges if they are regionally based, speak the same primary language, and are located within reasonable time-zone differences to address any expense management issues quickly and effectively.
2. TEM complexity requires specialization and highly competent regionally based support personnel
Because there are so many telecommunications carriers, services, and billing plans to manage in enterprise TEM programs, the best TEM providers within the U.S. invest in highly competent domestic-based personnel to provide support.
Subject Matter Experts: TEM SMEs are required within carriers, services, plans, and TEM program areas (e.g., invoice processing, audit, optimization). Without legitimate regionally based support expertise, you are simply throwing warm bodies at the problem, and this does not work nowadays, especially within the technology sector and in the TEM industry.
You need your “boots on the ground” support personnel close by and ready to support you and your internal TEM team whenever the situation and sense of urgency require it.
3. TEM service and billing data minutiae are infinite, requiring heavy human involvement
Yes, a strong technology program is certainly needed for present-day TEM programs but there is still so much required in terms of human touches throughout the TEM lifecycle management process.
The best TEM programs realize that this is an area that cannot be skimped on without issues arising and therefore do not outsource key support areas overseas and in very distant time zones.
Example – Optimization Analyses Overseas: Imagine how a TEM firm audit/optimization manager would manage a team of analysts across the globe in a time zone 10 or more hours away with respect to, say, a complex network optimization review.
If it is difficult for you to imagine this, it’s because it is incredibly difficult if not impossible to pull this off effectively for obvious reasons involving time zones, language differences et cetera.
When you are interviewing TEM providers, it will be critical for you and your internal TEM team to press them in detail on their support model because getting this wrong will not end well for you and your team.
4. TEM programs worth their salt do not skimp on labor support costs
We’ve touched on this in the past in various articles and we will continue to do so because it’s that important. Many larger and/or higher-profile TEM firms will want to shave labor costs on the back of customer support.
This may help them make their profit margins for the quarter but these shortsighted moves, unfortunately, will come at the long-term expense of the customer.
Example -Replacing Expensive SMEs with inexperienced personnel: As also noted in prior articles, a widespread practice for larger TEM firms that choose to outsource TEM support functions is to do so by replacing expensive support with less expensive personnel, either much younger and inexperienced or cheaper labor overseas.
Either way, this move could cost your organization so be careful when evaluating TEM providers and your next potential TEM partner. You don’t want your next TEM partner so focused on their own internal labor costs that they deny you and your organization maximized realized savings over the term of your agreement.
In the optimization example noted earlier, a TEM firm may save labor overhead costs by outsourcing overseas, but your team will lose realized savings dollars due to inadequate support. And this gap could add up to hundreds of thousands or even millions over a typical 3-year TEM contract/engagement because of this insufficient subject matter expert support.
Customer support does not attract attention until there is an emergency. Don’t wait for an emergency to heed this message. If you are serious about the long-term health of a robust and sustainable TEM program, you must have exceptionally strong customer service in all facets of your TEM program.
If you’d like to consider Tellennium in your TEM vendor comparisons, contact us to schedule a brief demo of our solution.
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