As a follow on to our last post, the discussion around the water cooler and in the conference room turned to the selection process we take in selecting partners. The top level of features and price are easy to determine. But the real trick is what will happen when the proverbial s%^t hits the fan and you need help. This is especially true in any online business venture where third parties provide a part of your service. Some examples are email, web hosting, SMS text and other portions of cross media campaigns that you may rely on a vendor for. Of course, if Twitter goes down it effects all marketers equally so its no big deal, if only your portion of a service goes down, watch out. So what are some of the less than obvious things to consider?
- Is there 24 hour customer service that can resolve issues?
- How can customer service be reached? Is access by email only or is there a direct dial phone?
- If there is a customer service number, is there competent help available at 0200 or is a trouble ticket the extent of the aid you can get?
- How critical is the service to your business? If it is a core part of the services you offer to your customer the level of support is far more important.
- What error handling and monitoring does the vendor have in place? In short, does the vendor discover errors and bugs only after you tell them or do they have a robust system for monitoring errors in real time.
- What time zone /hemisphere is your provider in? To get them during business hours are you going to have to be up at 0200?
Get detailed answers to these issues ahead of time for critical outsourced systems. Sales will always say that their firm has great customer service, but get specifics and proof. Ask about response times from the call center, not just up time guarantees.
The answers may surprise you…