Play Well with Others


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If you are serious about your partners, you should be serious about supporting them and their customers. And it’s really not that hard.

1. Who does what to whom?

Much frustration can be saved by simply defining mutual responsibilities. Typically partners own their customers, provide level 1 support to them, and escalates issues to the vendor that are beyond their technical expertise or require a product fix. It’s fine to deviate from the norm as long as you spell it out. (And it’s fine to treat different partners differently.)

2. Set conditions

Yes, you can require minimum staffing levels, training, or certifications, and you can and should audit them all on a regular basis.

3. Give a little

Start with training on your products. It doesn’t have to be slick or even formal, but it needs to exist. And a certification program is a great idea, whether formal or informal.

4. Demand the best

It’s great to set conditions (#2) but you need to enforce good behavior. You’ll do that through performance metrics such as customer satisfaction ratings and the escalation rate back to you. Make sure the metrics you use are solid. For instance the customer surveys should be conducted by an independent party.

5. Give back

Typically partners keep 25% to 50% of the support revenue, with the rest going to the vendor for maintenance and level 2 support. But don’t stop there! Tie good behavior to financial incentives, so that a partner with great customer satisfaction or suprt-low escalation rates can keep more.

6. Be there

Good relationships, in support or elsewhere, demand work and attention. Regularly review metrics, staffing, and training. Offer assistance and advice.

7. Enjoy

A good support relationship with your partners is a good thing. Enjoy and boast about it.

FranÇoise Tourniaire
FT Works
FranÇoise Tourniaire is the founder and owner of FT Works, a consultancy firm that helps technology companies create and improve their support operations. She has over 2 years' experience as a Support and Services executive. Prior to founding FT Works in 1998, she was the VP of Worldwide Service at Scopus, a leading Customer Relationship Management (CRM) vendor.


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