When selecting an EHS software vendor, people typically pay close attention to features, cost, security, and so on.
One ingredient that's often overlooked: customer support.
In fact, most people don't think about customer support at all until much later when they run into a problem. By that time, it's usually too late and they're locked into a contract with a vendor whose support team is slow to respond, poorly trained, or downright unwilling to help.
This situation is unfortunately common: 42% of people report that they have a bad customer support experience at least once a month.
To save yourself from a lot of frustration down the road, customer support should be one of the first things you think about when selecting a software vendor. Let's take a closer look at why this is the case.
Why customer support is important
Here's something most software vendors won't tell you: bugs and glitches are an inevitable part of using software. Even the best system will have the occasional hiccups.
When that happens, a good customer support team can mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major setback.
Imagine, for example, your software crashes while you're in the middle of compiling an important report that's due tomorrow. If your software vendor’s team takes hours or days to respond, you could end up working late into the night, or worse, missing your deadline because you're unable to complete your work. If, however, the vendor responds right away, you should be able to get it fixed and get back to work with minimal interruption.
There's also the issue of cost. Some vendors will charge you extra for things like updates, additional training, or bill by the hour for implementation. It might not seem like much, but all of those bits can add up to a significant cost. Instead of nickel and diming you, a good vendor should anticipate your needs and include all of these things upfront.
Finally, consider the fact that you're going to be spending a lot of time with the vendor's team during the implementation and training process. We've all had the unpleasant experience of dealing with a rude customer service person. You certainly don't want to get stuck working alongside that person for weeks on end.
What to look for in EHS software support
As we mentioned above, choosing a vendor is the start of a long term relationship. In the same way that you wouldn't jump into a marriage without getting to know someone first, it's important to get to know the vendor before signing a contract.
This is why the initial demo is so important. You're not just getting to know the software system — you're getting acquainted with the vendor and their team. Even though the overview demo only lasts less than an hour, you'll be able to tell a lot about whether you'll work well together from this initial meeting.
You can recognize a great customer support program by these traits:
- Shares lots of helpful educational resources online through their blog and email list
- Provides focused training for different types of users
- Includes training and configuration support at no additional cost
- Listens carefully and asks questions that demonstrate their industry expertise
- Assigns you a dedicated account manager who will get to know your business and your team
- Offers a knowledge base and other self-service support
- Is friendly and approachable
- Acts as a partner in the implementation process
Let’s talk about that final one for a moment. The last thing you want is an EHS software vendor who’s going to hand you the keys and disappear. You want to work with someone who’s invested in your success. A good vendor will be there for you to ensure your software is up and running, configured properly, and leveraged to its full potential. If that means spending extra time helping you get the system rolled out to your users or reconfiguring something after you’ve gone live, then that’s what they will do.
In all, customer support should be one of the first things you consider when choosing software. A good support team will save you a lot of headaches by resolving inevitable issues quickly. It will save you money in the long run. And it will make the entire software buying experience much more pleasant.