Tag Archives: Customer Service

The Golden Age of Customer Feedback

customer engagement smallEngaging customers from the beginning to the end of the product development cycle is critical for the acceptance of products, both with current and future clients.  Not engaging customers results in a “failure-to-launch” scenario, which benefits nobody.

It’s September, 2015 however and customer-focused companies are fortunate because many feedback tools exist that can be leveraged to relay product design, functionality, and other ideas to clients and to provide a method for feedback.  In fact, more communication channels are available now than ever before!  Modern tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Forums, Facebook, YouTube, eCommerce and others can be used to promote lots of feedback at very reasonable costs.  Think back only a few years ago when none of these methods existed and how much effort, cost, and time was required to understand your customer’s needs via the limited person-to-person, phone, or postal system options available.

As an example of how to increase feedback, one tool mentioned above, “Forums,” can be setup in an afternoon.  When completed, messages, images, even audio & video recordings can provide valuable product input.   The ideas can typically be categorized & prioritized, and follow up questions or other information can be provided back to the customer.  Used properly, a Feedback Forum can ensure a company’s products are on target, resulting in happier customers and higher sales.

In fact, consider that we are in a “Golden Age” of feedback, where customers can provide it, both positive and negative, instantly for any company or product.  Companies should leverage and control this ability and use it as a “Best Practice” to drive their product development because when a client is heard, it results in better customer satisfaction and higher retention: Outcomes all companies hope to achieve.

The Benefits of Using a Customer-Oriented Learning Management System (LMS) Vendor

Henry Ford small (larger)Someone famously asked Henry Ford if he had talked with customers for their opinions before creating an automobile for the masses.  Henry Ford, wisecrack that he was, quipped “If I’d asked what people wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  That attitude may have flown in the day and age where doctors were still attempting to cure maladies of all sorts by zapping the bejesus out of their patients with raw electricity, but today’s customers are better informed and much more savvy as to what they need.  And doctors thankfully became more judicious with their use of electricity as a form of treatment.

Today’s customers have problems that are unique to their business processes, and they know exactly what functions and abilities they need their learning management system to perform. What good is it to have a system that can’t adapt to changing business processes?  Or even worse, an LMS provider who responds to your unique needs with: “You probably don’t need that. That’s why we don’t have it.”  If you do find yourself in that situation with your LMS provider, check out our LMS Switching Guide on how to ask soul-searching questions about whether or not you should find a new LMS.

Part of Gyrus Systems’ customer focus is to gather feedback from our customers in our product community and to incorporate customer requested features into each release.  The benefit? You get an adaptable product that meets your business needs without the pain and expense of a customization.

Customer Service: Well Done is Better than Well Said

Well_done_2Sticking with the Ben Franklin theme I started last week, today I discuss a personal example that illustrates the simple idea Franklin meant with his quote, “Well done is better than well said.”  

I recently hired a contractor to replace the roof on my house.  I previously used this company and was happy with their work, plus they have outstanding customer service so I was comfortable hiring them again.  During the installation I was out of town so I couldn’t monitor progress, but I trusted them to get it right.  Upon arriving home I was pleased to discover the roof was properly installed, looked fantastic, and was a beautiful improvement after living with ugly thirty year old shingles.   I did notice however, four minor problems about which I contacted the vendor.

The project manager, Greg, immediately responded with a heartfelt reply and outlined a detailed action plan to solve the problems.  Talk is cheap, however within days the issues were remedied.  Whether Greg knew it or not, he provided a perfect application of Franklin’s quote “Well done is better than well said.” to customer service.

I expected the quick resolution because of my previous experience with the firm, and again they met my expectations.  The situation could have devolved into much frustration due to a lack of response or remediation.  In an era of fly-by-night contractors I remain happy with my decision to use this company for the new roof and I’ll give them a call for future house improvements too.  I’ve even referred potential new business their way because of their excellent work and customer service.

My experience with this vendor reinforces the idea that quality customer service is extremely important to generate new, and retain existing, business.  When the timing was such that I could switch to another contractor, I did not, based upon my history with their skilled workmanship and quality customer service.  I’m not an expert construction guy, I left it with people I knew could handle the job and they didn’t let me down.

So it is with Learning Management Systems (LMSs).  At some point it’s time to review the current software contract and decide whether to stick with the existing LMS or begin a relationship with an unknown vendor.  Reviewing shiny new features is exciting, however it’s important to always inquire about the effectiveness of the customer service department too.  It’s easy for a company to make a sale and then ignore Franklin’s advice by forgetting about the follow-up, which leads to much frustration, both with system implementation and ongoing system utilization.  The outcome will be untrained employees, an unacceptable end result for any LMS.

For more details about switching Learning Management Systems, review this LMS Switching Guide.

The Importance of Customer Service for Learning Management System (LMS) Admins

Gyrus Systems Benjamin 2In May I blogged about the concept of “Fast, Good, and Cheap: Pick Two” and how it applies to product development, essentially: A development project can’t include all three qualities. Today I’ll explore how customer service is similarly affected by price & quality and leverage the quote, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” by Ben Franklin to demonstrate the issue. (Seems like price versus quality concerns have existed for a long time!)

Like “Fast, Good, and Cheap: Pick Two,” Franklin’s quote drives home the relationship between price and quality, that is, when an overly cheap product is marketed, quality suffers because the vendor must cut costs somewhere.

An easy cost-cutting strategy is to skimp on customer support since product features can still be demonstrated; the assumption being that sales won’t suffer. Also, it’s challenging to demonstrate customer support so vendors may only provide anecdotal information, if it’s discussed at all.

Based upon my experience with customers that have changed to the Gyrus Systems GyrusAim LMS from alternatives, customer support is extremely important where quality is not optional, it’s required. Service problems described by customers that had used inadequate support departments range from never getting hold of a live person to being forwarded to a call-center where the service rep “helps” by reading from a list of FAQs because they don’t understand the product.

Customers experiencing these problems truly understand “the bitterness of poor quality.” The “sweetness of low price” is long forgotten because the lack of support creates stalled training programs and untrained learners, not successful end results when using an LMS.

At Gyrus Systems quality customer support is a priority: We want long term customer relationships, not a quick sale. We invest in the personnel and develop the processes required to deliver top-notch assistance. For example, we don’t rely on a voicemail barrier when customers call. Instead, we answer the phone. The person that answers is not at a call-center either, it is a Gyrus Systems employee that’s deeply involved in product development or support.  The end result is customers speak with a resource that understands the product. In fact, all of our employees know our customers by their first name.   

Not all customers need help, however when they do, the responsive and dedicated Gyrus Support Team is available so our clients will not experience the bitterness of poor quality support.  Ben Franklin would be proud.

Fast, Good, or Cheap: Pick Two

Early in my career when I suggested a laundry list of useful product features to our Engineering Manager that “just had to be” in the next release he said, “Fast, Good, or Cheap: Pick Two!”  That was the first the first time I heard the phrase, however I’ve been in the business long enough now to appreciate the value of such a simple statement as it relates to product development.  The phrase is common enough, however its value is that it describes, quite succinctly, the relationship between these three important qualities of product development and that if two are selected, then achieving the third is at best, challenging.  

That Engineering Manager is now retired, however I’ve adopted the phrase and used it myself with customers when discussing the development of Gyrus Systems’ Learning Management System product, GyrusAim.  The “Fast, Good, or Cheap” concept quickly allows our customers to “Get It” and understand the challenge we face as a LMS software company to maximize features within a specified time frame while not pricing our product out of our desired market.  In a perfect world all three goals would always be fully achievable, however in the real world each must be weighed and prioritized to create products that best meet the needs of current and prospective customers.

As with previous generations of GyrusAim, a requirement for our latest 5th generation revision was to keep it “Good.” Thus the two remaining qualities are “Cheap” and “Fast.”  I really don’t like the word “Cheap,” so I’ll replace it with “Price Competitive.”  GyrusAim is truly one of the most price competitive, enterprise level, skill-centric LMSs in today’s marketplace, with a very low price-per-learner that minimizes our client's software costs.

So we're left with “Fast.”  While we would love to release every feature on our product roadmap tomorrow, we simply can’t guarantee the “Good” or “Price-Competitive” aspects if we did.  Therefore we take the required time to fully develop and test our new features and release them only when we can guarantee they’ll fully meet our customers’ needs.

In summary, the promise that Gyrus Systems makes to our customers is that the software is good and will meet their learning and development needs now and in the future.  We also strive to keep the price of our LMS solution extremely competitive.  To meet our goals of “Good” and “Price-Competitive” software, we take the time required to analyze our customer needs and prioritize the release of these new features.  Using this philosophy, since January, 2014, we have exceeded our goal of four releases per year.  In fact, we’ve published eleven new releases that allow our customers to leverage hundreds of new features that improve their learning and development programs, a proven track history that we’d love to discuss.  Give us a call!