The Delta Consulting Group, our independent consulting practice, helps clients evaluate unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and contact center as a service (CCaaS) solutions, in addition to helping clients evaluate cost reduction opportunities, call centers, etc. Recently, we’ve been approached by or heard about companies who have had poor experiences with their voice telephony cloud providers. But why?
Support will be better in the cloud, right?
Customers frequently believe that moving their infrastructure to the cloud improves customer support—and sometimes this is true. Other times, they’re surprised by their findings. These can include paying more for change orders during the implementation process, sales teams not responding to inquiries after the installation (even for add-on sales), poor installation planning, and the resulting unsuccessful cutover. They may also discover long hold times on the (800) support number, international agents who speak poor English, being shuffled back and forth between UCaaS and CCaaS support teams, and the list goes on.
Examples of poor vendor support
In one instance, a UCaaS provider poorly managed the design and implementation of a new system, resulting in a disastrous cutover. It's also likely that the choice of this provider made the chief information officer look bad. It turns out that this UCaaS provider relied on the customer to know: what they needed, how to set it up, and how to do much of the configuration on their own. In many cases, we’ve seen that vendor partners (instead of a direct vendor contact) often do a better job (than the cloud provider) of planning, project management, design, programming, testing, training, and cutover than the UCaaS/CCaaS providers themselves.
Another instance was when a customer needed to add additional licensing and feature capabilities, but the sales team wouldn’t respond to phone calls or emails. When the situation escalated, the sales manager apologized, said they were experiencing incredible growth, but then subsequently failed to follow up with the customer on the issues raised.
Why the lack of vendor support?
In some cases, some cloud providers exist that aren’t well-managed. However, other situations can be the result of significant success and growth. Even with the hiring of new personnel, the support resources cannot keep up with the sales growth, and over the last few years, hyper-growth due to COVID-19 and the need for customers to expand their staffing remotely has overwhelmed some providers.
No matter the reason, while the cloud can be a terrific solution for telephony, having vendor support is critical.
Here are six tips to ensure solid customer support from your UCaaS or CCaaS provider:
1. Request an experienced support team
At a minimum, your vendor should have a support team that includes a project manager, programmer, designer, and trainer with extensive experience.
2. Ensure the vendor will do all the programming
Make sure the provider performs all of the software programming. If not, they should specify what the customer must do for installation and post-cutover support.
3. Request U.S. based support
Ask the vendor, “where is your support team located?” You might be surprised to find out that the first-level support team is in an international country.
4. Call the (800) support number
Call the (800) support number during a peak time (typically Monday at 10 am) and see how long it takes to get through. Also, have a conversation with the agent to see how well they speak English.
5. Negotiate a better support arrangement
This negotiation may include the ability to call another (800) number that rings directly to a U.S.-based Tier 2 support center or by arranging to get U.S. based vendor partner (this may cost you extra, but it will likely be worthwhile).
6. Establish rapport with the sales team
Keep track of contact information for the provider’s sales and engineering teams. It also helps to have contact information for two additional tiers of management—in case you need to escalate a problem in the future.
Vendor support is often a criterion for customers. However, when the customer gets caught up in the emotion of a positive sales experience and new features or functionalities that will enhance their operations, they assume their vendor support experience will be just as good.
You should note that some vendors have good sales teams and others have good support teams. However, few have both. You must do your homework and negotiate good support to make the best decision for your enterprise. You might also consider hiring an independent consultant to minimize the guesswork in making the right decision.
Tim is writing on behalf of the SCTC, a premier professional organization for independent consultants. Our consultant members are leaders in the industry, able to provide best of breed professional services in a wide array of technologies. Every consultant member commits annually to a strict Code of Ethics, ensuring they work for the client benefit only and do not receive financial compensation from vendors and service providers.