I get asked a lot of questions during the sales process here at Bloomerang. Generally, those questions revolve around features and benefits contained within the software we offer.
“Can Bloomerang do ______?”
That’s how most of the questions start. And they are (almost) all good questions that should be answer if you are evaluating a new software program. But there is one question that I rarely get asked, even though I consider it just as, if not more, important than the rest:
“How is your Customer Support?”
I understand you are evaluating and might even get lost in the swarm of features and benefits, particularly if you are looking at multiple options. But as anyone who has used any software product can tell you, you are going to need a good Support team. You are going to need help formatting a report. Or inserting your logo into an online donation form. Or any number of other tasks or processes that you need to do.
Clearly, you need a team who is responsive and knowledgeable. That low bar should be starting point for evaluating Support teams. If anyone you are evaluating hedges on those basic qualifiers, run away. If you talk with current users of those products and they tell you they have a difficult time getting someone on the phone, or getting a response back in a timely manner, run away. There will be times you can wait a week for a response, and then there will be times you need a response yesterday.
OK, so what else is needed? Professional and polite are nice, right? Good sense of humor, engaging, empathetic – all of these would be great, but they are also a little difficult to measure objectively when evaluating a new system.
(I think puns are funny; others do not share this perspective and have threatened bodily harm if I persist)
What are some good questions to ask during the sales process? What experience do your Support reps have? This is a good question. But dig into that a little. Obviously, if the Support team is outsourced completely, you need to be wary. But if the company takes pains to hire employees who have worked at nonprofits in the past, particularly in the area of Support, that’s a real bonus. “Bonus” actually isn’t strong enough – that’s a commodity that can GREATLY benefit your team, particularly as you are learning a new database system.
Think about it. If you are chatting with someone who has sat in your seat before, they are going to be able to empathize with you much more effectively. People who work in nonprofits have unique challenges that those of us in the business world do not have to deal with; so it just makes sense to pull in people who have worked in the nonprofit world to help us who are in the business world understand the challenges you face. And if you get to interact with them when you need help? Even better.
Don’t be afraid to ask to interact with the Support team before you sign up. If you can’t jump on a live chat during a demo, be a little afraid. If you ask questions about Support and don’t get glowing reviews, be a little afraid. If you jump on user-review sites and don’t see universal praise for Support, be very afraid.
Once you are a customer, Support is one of the most important departments of whatever product you choose for you as a customer. You will talk, chat, or email with them more than anyone else in the company more than likely. Don’t forget to include evaluating Support teams during the sales process. We’ve heard enough horror stories from organizations who switch to Bloomerang because they can’t get anyone on the phone.
And yes, I am writing all this to praise Bloomerang’s Support team, which consists of amazing, passionate, dedicated and knowledgeable individuals who you will love.
Check out the reviews if you don’t believe me.