4 signs you’re partnering with the right company

Jeff Coco

Are you fully engaged with your customers? According to Gallup, which has conducted thousands of interviews over the years with B2B companies, only 13 percent of customers are fully engaged in their business relationships.

This is a revealing and somewhat alarming statistic considering engagement level is a true indicator of how well companies work together. Engagement, according to Gallup, involves more than just keeping customers happy. It also encompasses developing a strong, emotional connection with them so they’re not assessing the entire relationship solely on product and service pricing.

Instead, when companies spend more time evaluating how their solutions affect and impact their customers, the result is more often than not a stronger and more lucrative partnership.

Here, I’ll discuss a few ways you can determine whether or not you’re partnering with the right company and why working with the correct one is so crucial to your long-term sustainability.

1. The company has a low employee turnover rate

As the U.S. job market and economy continue to improve, businesses are finding it more and more challenging to retain their best employees. In fact, according to a recent report from Gallup, many employees (51 percent to be exact) currently have their eyes on potentially different positions outside of their current companies.

There are many reasons employees leave their jobs, reported Gallup, including poor management and benefits, low pay, toxic work environment or better professional growth opportunities elsewhere. However, while losing star power obviously hurts these businesses, what you may not realize is how much their loss is just as much yours too.

Here’s why.

Partnering with a company encompasses more than simply purchasing their solutions at a competitive price. Forming a strong relationship may (and typically does) involve, at minimum, regularly working with their employees to identify cooperative areas of growth, and improve collaboration and communication where needed.

Now, if your level of interaction simply doesn’t go beyond the purchasing phase, that doesn’t mean you’re not presented with opportunities to strengthen the relationship.

For example, you likely have to contact your customer’s technical support department for information regarding solution updates and repairs or for answers about general product installation, implementation and usage. These too are chances to form deeper connections.

Here’s the problem: When your partners have high employee turnover rates, it’s often difficult to maintain a strong relationship. You may have noticed this already.

When you need assistance, you want to work with technical support experts—professionals who are regularly exposed to and therefore know the ins and outs of their company’s solutions. However, this is made difficult when your customers struggle to retain their most experienced technical support employees. Instead of working with experts, you’re tasked with trying to handle a consistently changing pool of new hires desperately trying to learn product specifications and usage points as quickly as possible.

In short, it can disintegrate relationships.

Much of what maintains a strong business relationship are employees on both sides. Enterprises with low employee turnover are more likely to employ professionals who are enthusiastic about helping you solve technical problems. In turn, you receive better quality, faster and more accurate support.

2. The company provides quality, well-rounded technical support

Have you ever had difficulty trying to find the answer to a technical problem regarding a product? Maybe you tried to contact your customer’s technical support team but found yourself stuck in an endless loop of transfers from one “specialist” to another. Preferring to figure it out on your own, you then attempted to find the answer on your customer’s website. However, you got lost in the layers of jumbled webpages and content.

If this has happened, here’s my initial thought: You could be working with the wrong company because the right one provides more than quality solutions; it also offers well-balanced technical support.

Well-balanced technical support, such as that offered by Axis Communications, includes a diverse menu of support channels and a team of specialists who understand how these tools can help customers.

In the case of Axis, we also invest in our staff and work tirelessly to stay ahead of customer and technical support trends so employees can consistently exceed customer expectations.

The support channels we offer include:

  • Call support
  • Live chat
  • Helpdesk
  • FAQ
  • Support videos or audio
  • Product and developer pages
  • Technical notes and troubleshooting guides
  • Firmware and software downloads

I recently had a chance to chat with one of my colleagues, Aaron Andino, technical support specialist, who told me a little about why he thinks customers find Axis’ chat services so valuable. And I couldn’t agree with him more.

“I think that customers really like using chat because it makes us accessible,” said Andino. “We’re very accessible on chat. They’re able to work in chat typing to us while they have their hands free to work on something else. So maybe they’re troubleshooting a camera, but they also need to be able to get back to us. And it just creates a very easy environment for them to reach out to us quickly.”

Along with the ability to easily and quickly contact technical support, our customers also have instant access to our technical notes, developer pages and other support videos. Even better, these options are all located on a single, simple-to-navigate webpage.

Companies that offer well-balanced technical support adhere to more holistic, customer-oriented support procedures. This benefits you because you can, in turn, get back to work sooner.

3. The company thinks outside the box

Most solution centers judge the performance of their staff solely on whether they hit certain key metrics, such as average call duration (ACD), first call resolution (FCR), adherence to schedule, abandon rates and average speed of answer.

I agree these are important in determining the center’s operating efficiency. For example, I can’t ignore ACD because it helps:

  • Determine proper staffing levels
  • Highlight problems with particular products
  • Determine agent soft and technical skill levels
  • Measure cost per interaction

However, ACD, like other metrics, are a double-edged sword. Technical support managers should investigate long calls, but they can’t assume this type of call indicates something went wrong.

Today’s customers are becoming increasingly self-sufficient when trying to solve technical problems. They’d rather search Google or a company’s FAQ page than take time talking on the phone. As a result, agents are left with more challenging inquiries, and these often require more time and troubleshooting.

Companies that measure employee performance solely on average call duration or other metrics (and many do) are missing the mark. Instead, I suggest partnering with companies that think outside the box when it comes to measuring the performance of their technical support team. In doing so, you’re likely to receive better overall support from beginning to end.

Two professionals talk about business.
Working with a partner that thinks outside the box can set up new business opportunities.

4. The company invests in its future

What’s a day in the life of Axis’ solution center? Here’s a snapshot: Nearly 30 technical experts, four team leads and multiple managers handling roughly 13,000 incoming calls each quarter, and over 9,000 online customer interactions with support tools and processes developed through painstaking research and development. (And that research and development never stops.)

The end product: An experienced team of passionate, engaged professionals who are always determined to resolve their customers’ problems in the most efficient manner possible.

Companies that make research and development a top priority are more likely to not only introduce more innovative, higher quality products to the market place but also provide more well-rounded technical support as well.

At Axis, we’re constantly striving to meet these goals because we’re a solution- and customer-oriented company. To do so, we unremittingly research new support tools and processes and try to find creative ways to increase our staff’s skill level.

Employees are less likely to leave their current positions if their companies support their career aspirations with professional growth opportunities. That’s one reason we established what we call “the skills matrix.” Through extensive training and education, our employees can advance to become technical support engineers, senior technical support engineers and technical support specialists.

I can’t understate how significant it is when companies invest in their employees’ careers. As I referenced earlier, this can improve employee turnover rates, and businesses with high retention are more likely to offer better technical support.

It’s important to continuously evaluate your business partnerships for strengths and weaknesses. The four signs of a quality business relationship I discussed here is a solid starting point to determine whether you’re working with the right partners.