It may seem like an obvious question when evaluating software vendors, but asking about ERP customer service, technical support, and Help Desk activities is not as simple as it seems. With technology today, customer service and support activities can come in many different forms – phone support, online chat, email, in-person, webinars and training videos, user conferences etc. How vendors charge for support and customer service, what they consider billable and non-billable time, what the vendor covers as part of product warranty, how each vendor offers support services and even who provides support can vary greatly from one vendor to the next. It is an important question to ask during the evaluation process and can have an impact on your final decision. Below we take a closer look at Blue Link's customer service approach.
Personalized, In-House Team
At Blue Link, our goal is to become our customer’s trusted technology partner, and for good reason too. When our customers succeed, we succeed. This is why we take a personalized approach to ERP customer service and support. We employ a dedicated in-house team of experts – Developers, Consultants, Help Desk Agents, Customer Service people - who get to know you and your business on a personal level. This means we do not waste any time trying to get up-to-speed on each customer account and instead, allows our team to help you grow your business and automate processes – which is one of the main benefits of moving to all-in-one ERP software in the first place.
Although each department at Blue Link is closely aligned and all services are provided by our in-house team, we still make a point to keep ongoing customer service and support activities separate from initial implementation activities. For example, initial training prior to go-live is scheduled differently than on-going training activities. This ensures that we dedicate the right people and resources to helping new customers and existing customers.
Help Desk Activities
True software technical support usually relates to troubleshooting or similar help desk activities. These are simple requests that can be addressed within 24-48 hours and include questions around error messages, editing data and fixing mistakes, help with understanding reports etc. At Blue Link, Help Desk tickets are managed through our Help Center providing customers with self-serve options for creating, editing, and reviewing all open and closed tickets. This makes it easy for you to quickly get a response to your questions. The Help Center also includes a library of Knowledge Base articles to help answer your questions without needing to create a ticket. To submit a ticket, each Blue Link customer needs a Help Desk contract, which is a pre-paid block of time that we deplete according to the time it takes to resolve each ticket. When it comes to bug fixes, Blue Link’s maintenance and warranty program covers these types of issues and they are not treated as billable time.
Other Consulting Services
Outside of Help Desk Activities, our team provides other consulting services including:
- IT Set-up and Activities
- Report Creation
- Post Go-Live Training
- Custom Specification Requests
These types of activities require significantly more time than Help Desk issues and may also require a specific resource or skillset. Therefore, we schedule all non-Help Desk Activities based on availability and these are billed separately. However, we also have dozens of training videos and resources available for free to our customers on our Academy site to help address some of the requests listed above.
While more and more small-medium size businesses are choosing cloud-based software, some companies insist on going on-premises. When it comes to providing support services for on-premises implementations, the costs are typically higher than cloud-based to account for the unknown variables. For example, your team may have installed additional software on your internal servers that is affecting the performance of Blue Link ERP – which requires investigation into these different applications. Additionally, if you work with an outside IT team to manage your servers, there can sometimes be delays in getting the correct credentials and access to your servers for Blue Link to address the issue – increasing the time it takes to solve a problem and adding to the cost of support.
Differences in ERP Customer Service
Although each software vendor will have a different process for managing customer service and support, there are 3 areas where the differences can be significant, making it important for you to address these concerns before deciding on a software vendor.
- Upgrades: Some vendors include the cost of annual upgrades in their monthly maintenance fees. However, it is important to make sure that the cost of these upgrades also includes the actual deployment of the upgrade. Some vendors charge an hourly fee/set cost for their team to deploy the upgrade for you. At Blue Link, the cost of the new version for our hosted software and the work involved to deploy the version for our customers is all included.
- Customization: Customization involves any database/structural changes to the software. Many vendors will quote and charge a set fee for custom work which your team can then approve or not. Where there can be differences in service level is when it comes time to upgrade, as not all vendors will include customizations in your upgrade. Therefore, it is important to find out if this will be an additional cost and service.
- Reporting: True ERP software will include robust reports out-of-the-box. But what happens if you want a report that doesn’t currently exist? While it might be worthwhile to pay your software vendor to create it for you, consider also working with a vendor that provides training and access to multiple report creation tools. This way you can train yourself or your staff on how to use some of the available tools to create reports – saving you money and time.