Be True to Your School, Part II

Matt Morris, Matt Morris

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Be True to Your School, Part II
By: Robert A. Kobek, RRP
President Mobius Vendor Partners
CustomerCount Online Enterprise Feedback Systems

One of the biggest beefs I hear at conventions from those that are the users of good and services is there are too many vendors and they feel like they have a target on their back. Conversely, one of the biggest beefs I hear from vendors and suppliers are there are too many vendors and not enough buyers. I call these commenters people that “will complain if you hang them with a new rope”.

In case the irony of that is lost on you, I will explain. Without vendors, there would be no trade show, no networking events and no real education for buyers/users. The dollars invested by these companies can be huge in relationship to the direct benefits. The good sellers are engaged and helpful to the general health of the industry, and there is no better place to invest than to invest with the trade association.

One anecdotal story to illustrate the point. While talking to a prospect at a recent industry event, the gent queried “how is your product different that “Acme”? Once I responded with the differences in functionality, ease of use, after sale service, I queried back as I looked around the room, “Are they here? Do they support this industry? Are they even members?” Of course, there are not members and they were not there. That to me should have made a big difference.

I admonish the prospective buyers/users of products and services to be more loyal to the vendors that do participate on a higher level inside the associations that represent the vertical you work in. Those are the companies that not only sell into your industry, but they tend to be smarter, more efficient and have a deeper understanding of the entire industry landscape.

In the 2 verticals I focus on, timeshare and teleservices, I am a subject matter expert in most phases of both industries. And, I associate with other vendors in my space because they possess knowledge about what is going on in those arenas: Who is doing what, why they are moving in that direction and trends. We vendors have cutting edge knowledge at your disposal. In addition, some of those vendors are members of your trade association at higher membership levels because they support the industry.

Point is: Don’t purchase a solution from “Acme”. Give consideration to your industry supporters. They are experts that will help grow your business.


Be True to Your School

Matt Morris, Matt Morris

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Be True to Your School
By Robert A. Kobek, RRP, President
Mobius Vendor Partners
CustomerCount Enterprise Customer Feedback System

There is no question the highest priority of our company is providing the finest customer feedback system that can ever be used.

And, personally, because of my significant background in the contact center industry, being a subject matter expert comes to the forefront pretty regularly, particularly in the consulting arena for technology solutions. These requests for solutions are due to the fact there is little internal consensus about what, how, and who will be the provider of the solutions. IT, marketing, customer service, inbound, outbound and other business units all have separate and unique requirements that need to be weighed against cost, cap ex limitations, and IT skill sets among other significant requirements.

There is one particular requirement that we have when assessing and grading potential providers. Trade association membership and activity inside the equivalent group weighs equally with other elements in a proposal. Trade associations provide significant knowledge and information to buyers and sellers of services and contact center technology is particularly critical when assessing which provider(s) to recommend.

In timeshare for example, if membership in ARDA is noted, there is a higher score. ARDA does a great job of providing industry specific trends and practices that would serve vendors are well to learn. The vernacular alone can be tricky and a lack of knowledge increases the risk of a not so clean installation, increasing the time, tension and energy, and cost.

In almost all cases high marks go to those vendors that are members of PACE (formerly the ATA). PACE has as its centerpiece, education on issues ranging from compliance to best practices on all the elements in a contact center. Inbound, outbound, click to chat, email and social media to name a few that, with the increase of broadband, are made possible. And, all of them require different moving parts in a call center.

It is baffling to me that vendors who are members of an association show up at a trade show, hang at their booth and do not participate in, or attend, educational sessions. Subject matter experts are talking to your prospects and you, the vendor have no idea what they are being told.

So, if you are wondering whether or not your membership in a trade association has value, take it from me, when I am making recommendations on technology solutions, it has value.


What is Technology Without Convenience

Matt Morris, Matt Morris

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What is Technology Without Convenience
by Robert A. Kobek

I recently stayed at the Venetian Resort and Hotel in Las Vegas and was there for 5 days, which, for me is 2 days too many in Las Vegas. When I returned to my office the following week I was met with a request to take a survey about my guest experience.

First let me tell you that I am not particularly a fan of the Venetian. While it is beautiful and more service oriented than most, there is also many “ding you” moments. (For example, when I requested a late checkout, I was asked “do you want the $20 late check-out or the $50 late check- out?). And, heaven forbid, do not ask for a cup of coffee in the morning, that little request will really cost you.

So, imagine my glee when I was asked to take an online survey about my experience. Being a provider of such a service to the hospitality and contact center verticals I am very sensitive to need for feedback, and I will typically take the time to complete and submit my experience views. But, what came next was a real surprise.

As I was working diligently to complete the survey, it stopped working about three quarters of the way down. I closed out and reset and started again. And, yet even a third time. It had to be me or my machine or something on the user end. Upon the fourth attempt, I changed my answers to a slightly higher rating and behold, it went through. I will not believe, ever, that this system was rigged. What I will believe though is the inconvenience was counter to the desired results.

So, when the question is asked, “What technology is the most impactful for customer acquisition or retention”, and there are choices such as “social media, SMS”, or whatever, the real answer lies with a very simple premise, convenience. All technology exists to make our lives easier and simpler, but we have somehow managed to use it to complicate our lives. Technology has replaced conversation, and with it intimacy. We don’t tell jokes anymore; we read them and pass them on.

To everyone that has a thought on this, I encourage you to comment, but please, be convenient about it!

(I owe a shout out to Dr. Fred Kitchens of Ball State University to inspiring this thought).