If your business is in the market for new software, you have a lot of homework to do. Every company claims their product will make your life easier and your work more efficient—and if you’re lucky, they’ll even save you money. But how do you know what you’re really getting into?
Don’t worry, we’ve got a great starting point for you. When you’re on the phone with an account rep or sales rep, just ask these questions to learn what kind of company you’re talking to, and whether they really prioritize customer needs.
1. When did this company last ship a product update?
You want to work with a company that is continually updating their product. If they are always working on improvements and can tell you what the latest update included, that’s a positive sign. If the last product update was several years ago, that’s a possible red flag.
2. How often do they talk to customers?
Customer feedback is a good thing, and it’s one of the best ways to improve a product. Find out what they have learned from customer surveys and conversations, and how that has informed the current version of the software.
3. How much does implementation cost, and what is the timeline for the implementation process?
You probably already know how much the software itself costs, but you might not have checked to see if implementation has its own fees. It’s also a good idea to see how long the process takes. Is it days, weeks, or months? Then ask yourself: is this amount of time and money worth it to my business?
4. How does end-user training work?
Some companies will help you install software, then point you to a PDF of a handbook for training. Others will make sure to personally train the individuals who need to use the software. Either way, you won’t know the process unless you ask. Training your own employees in a software you’ve only just started to learn about can prove challenging, so keep that in mind when selecting a product.
5. What is the customer service model?
No matter how thorough the implementation and training are, you will have additional questions at some point. The question is, how are those questions resolved? Will you need to call a customer service line, or send an email? Or will you have a direct line to a dedicated rep? Find out what the process looks like when you have a question or unexpected issue.
6. What is the software’s NPS compared to the competition?
It always helps to get a third-party perspective. The net promoter score (NPS) shows how much other customers recommend the software compared to similar options. Ask your rep about their product’s NPS to see where they stand. And if they don’t know the score off hand, they’re going to want to look it up when you ask about it.
7. If there is a contract, how long does it last? And what are the process and fees (if any) to exit the contract?
Some companies require long contracts. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s good to make your decision with the contract length in mind.
And you may be perfectly happy with this new software forever—or you may want out of the contract sooner than you think. The exit price can be a hidden fee, so ask what the cost will be if you need to leave earlier than expected.
Look at the big picture
While it’s true that you might not get the answer you want from some of these questions, be sure to look at the software as a whole before you make a big decision. Each question is only one piece of the puzzle, but taken together they will tell you how a company takes care of its customers.
Every company you work with doesn’t always have to be perfect—but they do need to be worth the time, effort, and money that you’ll spend to incorporate them into your day-to-day business.
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