Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dynamics GP Customers: Demand Good Service!

Every once in a while, I speak with a Dynamics GP customer that complains about their Dynamics GP partner.  They aren't available, they are too busy, they aren't responsive, their estimates are outrageous, their consultants aren't very knowledgeable...there are lots of reasons that they may be dissatisfied.

My first question is always:  "Have you spoken to your partner to let them know that you are dissatisfied?"

Most of the time, it seems that the GP partner is completely unaware that their client is dissatisfied.

Any GP partner that has been around for a while has received that unexpected e-mail from Microsoft letting them know that their customer has switched partners.  Sometimes they understand, and with hindsight can guess why the customer switched partners.  But other times it may be completely unexpected, and the partner really doesn't know why the customer switched.

I can understand that it may not be obvious to GP customers to call someone at their partner to complain.  In an ideal world, they shouldn't have to because they should be receiving great service.  But the reality of consulting is that not all consultants are great, not all consultants know everything about everything, not all GP partners have the ideal number and variety of consultants to handle all customer needs at all times, and not every interaction between a consultant and a customer goes perfectly.

Dynamics GP customers that have worked with their partner for a while should be benefiting from the knowledge that their consultants have gained.  The consultant should know their business, business processes, accounting processes, and Dynamics GP configuration and preferences.  The relationship with the partner should save them time and expense.

But sometimes the relationship just doesn't work the way the customer would like.  Something happens and the customer becomes dissatisfied.  Very often, the customer will feel frustrated or upset, but won't speak with the manager or owner at their partner.  Like any relationship, there needs to be communication.

Rather than make that communication seem like a burden that the customer must initiate by complaining to their partner, I would recommend that customers simply think of it as demanding good service.  If you are served the wrong dish at a restaurant, you probably don't hesitate to return it.  If you receive the wrong item or are dissatisfied with an online purchase, you return it.  Working with GP partners and consultants is similar--you don't always get what you want, and sometimes  you just need to let the partner know.  You shouldn't have to get upset with the partner.

Some recommendations in no particular order:

1. Don't be shy.  You are the Customer with a capital "C".  If you are paying the bills, you shouldn't be reluctant to demand good service.  Don't feel bad about asking your partner to resolve an issue to your satisfaction or meet your expectations.  Don't be afraid to share your dissatisfaction in a civil manner.

2. Pick up the phone.  If a consultant isn't meeting your expectations, let the manager or owner know.  At the hourly rates you are paying, you should be getting an experienced, certified, knowledgeable, professional, competent consultant that provides good service.  Don't settle for bad or even mediocre.  In my experience, most partners aren't very proactive when it comes to getting specific and timely customer feedback, so it is usually up to you, the Customer, to communicate with your partner.  Don't wait until the budget is exceeded or the deadlines have past before you let the partner know there is an issue.

3. Know your options and make requests.  You are the Customer, not the Victim, so you can make requests and do what it takes to be happy.  If a consultant isn't knowledgeable in a particular area, you can ask for someone who is.  If the consultant isn't organized or can't communicate well or is unresponsive, you can ask for a different consultant.  If the consultant makes obvious mistakes and then bills you to fix them, you can ask for a credit for the specific hours wasted.  And if the partner doesn't have better resources and can't resolve issues after you make your requests, then you can find a new partner.  Just fill out a single page document and send it to Microsoft and you will be switched.  But just be aware that switching partners can be costly.  In addition to having to find and interview new partners, you may lose alot of knowledge that your old partner had, and you may have to pay your new partner to come up to speed on your business and GP environment.

4. Take more control.  Some GP customers never rely on their partner--they have the resources and developed the skills to be very self sufficient, and only rarely call on their partner for a few items.  Other GP customers have a GP partner, but never use them--they prefer to only use independent GP consultants that are experts in certain domains.  Maybe they have a GP Manufacturing expert, an Integration developer, and a general support consultant, all independent and living in different states (or countries).  And some companies use their partner and independent GP consultants to get the exact mix of resources that they need.

With all of this said, there are also some things to avoid as a GP customer.

1. Be reasonable.  Don't demand things for free, don't expect consultants and partners to know everything, don't make up expectations about costs, timelines, or deliverables in a vaccuum.

2. Don't constantly ask for credits.  See #1.  If you are constantly having problems and you regularly ask for credits, you are treating the symptoms, not the underlying problem.  If the problem can't be resolved, you need to find a new partner.

3. It might not be the partner.  If you have recurring issues, don't assume that the partner is the problem.  Some customers have employees that just can't be satisfied, love to complain, and just aren't happy until they "save money" by fighting over every invoice.  If the partner rolls their eyes and groans every time they see your e-mail or get your phone call, they probably aren't going to deliver the best service, especially when they have other clients that are appreciative and truly value their services.

4. Don't keep switching partners.  If you have switched partners more than once in the last few years, see #3 above.

Do you have any other suggestions for making a relationship work with a GP partner?  Post a comment and let me know.

Steve Endow is a Dynamics GP Certified Trainer and Dynamics GP Certified IT Professional in Los Angeles.  He is also the owner of Precipio Services, which provides Dynamics GP integrations, customizations, and automation solutions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fabulous article!