Channel partners preach the need for higher value services to their customers on a regular basis. The mantra includes the need for services that eliminate inefficient manual processes and drive service excellence; services that include enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems, business process optimization solutions, and more.
But what about the channel partners themselves? Are you practicing what you preach, or do you remain mired down in the same inefficient processes you warn your customers against?
The same solutions that can help customers improve efficiencies in their workplace can offer a vastly improved workflow in the average channel partner. From improving routine business processes within your four walls to enabling your service technicians to be more proactive and efficient, channel partners can find people and processes becoming faster and more efficient. And of course, embracing the old adage “we eat our own dog food” is a powerful sales tool in terms of both education and customer buy-in.
Improve Internal Processes
Although it seems counterintuitive, even businesses whose roots are deeply mired in print and paper should be embracing a simpler, paperless workflow. Automate, simplify, and optimize are words being emphasized to customers, and they can help streamline workflow inside your business as well. For example, automating human resources functions can greatly streamline processes; when an employee is hired, automated account management can set a number of processes into motion such as passwords, paperwork, and web-based forms that automatically feed new-hire information into the system. These are processes that would have otherwise been manual, labor-intensive and time consuming. Additionally, cross-training employees and ensuring they are educated across a number of internal systems can improve process efficiencies.
Focus on Customer Service
Focusing on customer service seems like it would be a no-brainer when it comes to improving service excellence, but the “how” of that customer service is something that might be evaluated, with technology creating ever-improving methods. For instance, an automated survey can be sent after every service call; these surveys can be processed and the results analyzed to create improved service based on real customer needs.
Employees themselves must be considered as well when refining customer service. Millennials in the workforce may be a big deal or they may not, depending on who you talk to. But the reality is that a generation of workers who have grown up with different and more pervasive technology than those who came before them are often handling customers; their needs and methods must be addressed. A desire to constantly wear headphones? Perhaps not compatible with a position where phone calls must be answered on the first ring. A desire for multiple screens or devices? Possibly an even more efficient workflow than existed before.
Focus on Security
Often, multiple screens and devices come in the form of an employee’s personal device — the dreaded Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). This raises another issue: security. This is a concern that must be addressed by every channel partner when it comes to customers; it is a powerful sales tool in the channel partner’s arsenal, and one that should be embraced internally as well. With increased threats and awareness of vulnerabilities, there is more at stake than ever when it comes to protecting data and sensitive customer information. Is your customer data secure? Full utilization of security capabilities throughout all internal devices as well as implementation of best practices around those capabilities — card or PIN authentication and device encryption, for example — are prime examples of practicing what you preach.
Other security measures can include practices such as a single sign-in solution, which prevents employees from needing to create, remember, and potentially write down passwords for the channel partner’s many disparate systems. Automation of the employee authentication process is another solid security measure in which control over employee access to different systems is based on individual information input into the central database. In this type of automated process an employee is automatically assigned a certain level of access to internal systems based on criteria such as job function or security clearance level.
Get Control Over Mobile
The remote and mobile employee trend is also one of today’s most common stumbling blocks to efficiency. This is a particular concern for channel partners with both sales and service employees frequently outside the confines of the office. Field service technicians are a particular concern to channel partners, and precise tracking and management of those technicians is key to improved efficiencies.
Additionally, while remote monitoring should be standard for devices in the field, without proper utilization of the gathered data efficiency can only be improved so far. This is optimization in its truest form; gathering data, performing analytics and using the results to optimize business processes for maximum efficiency and cost savings for your business.
Talk is cheap, the saying goes, but the truth of the matter is, talking the talk without walking the walk can be expensive. The channel partner that truly adopts the same practices it promotes to its customers is the one that will reap the rewards — in buy-in from its employees that leads to better understanding of the solutions being used and sold; in an environment with exemplary security standards; in maximized use of customer data that optimizes sales and service; and in improved efficiencies within your business.
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