Anecdotally, most companies switch email service providers (ESPs) because they are unhappy with the customer service they are (or aren’t) getting. Given that most companies make the ESP switch about every 18 to 24 months, and given that switching ESPs is both a time-consuming and costly process, wouldn’t it be smart to evaluate the customer service with a degree of scrutiny before committing to a new vendor?
With that in mind, I offer 26 questions you can use when evaluating an ESP, in particular the type of customer support they’re going to offer. Using these kinds of questions might help you dig a little deeper into the realities of the vendor’s customer support—because it’s really easy to assume you’ll get topnotch service and really difficult to stomach the alternative!
One caveat, however: Do make sure you’re aware of the issues caused by poor service as opposed to those caused internally yet blamed on an ESP. To do so, download our ESP therapy ebook and consider your situation in light of what you’ll read there.
Now, on with the questions:
- Who will manage our account?
- Will we have a dedicated account manager?
- If so, how many clients is the account manager assigned at a time?
- If not, will we have access to a particular account manager if that person should be more familiar with our issue?
- What are the communication options with customer support? Online chat? Email? Phone? Something else?
- Do you differentiate based on issue severity so an urgent need is addressed before a general question?
- What account management options do you offer?
- How many hours of account management time are included in our costs?
- What is the cost for additional account management time if needed?
- How often do you do account reviews?
- What are your service standards for returning phone calls and responding to client inquiries?
- Do you share “best practices” information with clients? If so, how?
- How do you keep clients informed of performance issues, developments or updates?
- How do you manage clients with more than one department that uses the platform?
- During which hours are calls answered?
- Is there 24-hour access to support?
- What is the timeliness of responses to support queries?
- What type of ticketing system exists?
- What kind of technical support can we expect as part of our contract?
- What additional support is available if needed?
- What is the cost of additional technical support?
- What are the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for technical support?
- What is our recourse if the SLA is not met?
- What is the complaint escalation procedure?
- Is there online help, such as a knowledge base or online community?
- Do you offer support for speakers of languages other than English?
You might also want to contact clients of the ESP, and ask them about their experiences with customer support (and technical support). But most importantly, don’t assume that what you experience during the sales process is what you’ll get after the ink on the contract is dry. It’s very easy for everyone to put their best foot forward when in the “getting to know you and wanting to make a good impression” stage, but that stage is a temporary one.