5 Key Support Questions You Can’t Afford to Forget when Evaluating an EDI Provider

    Evaluation is a key component in our everyday decision-making processes, both personally and professionally. In making business decisions, we tend to focus our considerations in features, functionalities, and areas such as ROI (return on investment), TCO (total cost of ownership) and risk factors, such as up time, availability, and security. Yet, in the age of cloud-based, do-it-yourself solutions, many business consumers overlook support as consideration.

    “The best tools and solutions can be rendered useless if orders are piling up because you can’t get quick answers to your technical questions,” quoted from Seven Questions to Ask Your Data Integration Provider

    In fact, during DiCentral’s recent webinar, “EDI Customer Support,” an audience poll showed that only 25% of the participants considered customer support prior to investing.

    So why do so many neglect to evaluate customer support when selecting an EDI provider when it is such an integral part of the EDI process? Cindy Smith, Customer Experience Manager at DiCentral suggests, “As soon as you know you might partner with an EDI provider, begin evaluating their customer support as part of the entire process. You want to make sure that the EDI provider you choose will be able to support you in a manner that enhances your customer experience.”

    Here are 5 key points to consider when evaluating customer support:

    1. Will they provide references? 

    Obvious, but commonly overlooked! As soon as you reach out to a potential EDI provider, ask for references. Make sure to be specific about the type of reference with whom you would like to speak. Speak to a like-minded reference who will be utilizing similar tools. You can also evaluate customer reviews online on software evaluation websites, such as Capterra and G2.

    Try to seek out reviews by individuals who include their identifier information - this lends credibility to the testimonial, as the review may not be as valid if filled out anonymously. Also, consider how the potential provider respond to bad reviews. Cindy Smith stated, “No one knows a company better than its customers.” So, ask your EDI provider for references and do your research. 

    2. Do they have severity levels for priority?

    Ask how the customer support team prioritizes its responses. You wouldn’t want to be left on hold with an operations-halting emergency while another client is updating their address. When explaining DiCentral’s approach, Smith explains, “Severity level 1 is critical and has halted business and severity level 4 is least impactful. It may include something as simple as an address change.” All EDI vendors do not use this method and it is important to make sure your most pressing issues are addressed appropriately.

    3. What channels can I use to contact customer support?

    Have you ever experienced the frustration of trying to reach support in an emergency and they’re not answering the phone? That is why you should ask, “How can I contact customer support if I need help?”

    An EDI provider should provide multiple avenues, such as:

      • Submit a ticket via a support portal
      • Call the support desk
      • Send an email

    Work with your provider to indicate the severity of the issue. For example, when guiding DiCentral clients, Smith recommends, “Change the subject line to the relevant issue and if it is critical, indicate such in the subject line with CRITICAL. Indicate a critical issue with “Severity Level 1” in the email subject which corresponds to our highest severity level. The contact method you choose should be what’s most convenient for you, the customer, and your team.”

    4. Will the provider work with you to improve response times?

    You can improve the issue resolution time by providing as many details as possible to your provider. There are times in which you may not know what details to provider, however, giving as many details as possible upfront can drastically decrease your issue resolution time.

    For example, provide a document ID, a screenshot, or let the support staff know what your last action was when the problem occurred. As Smith relates, “just last week, a customer sent in a screenshot of the error message with the document ID, which indicated exactly what they were doing on our EDI platform to turn around and generate an ASN off of the purchase order. We knew exactly what was needed and the entire case was resolved in an hour.”

    5. How does customer support evaluate their own performance, if at all?

    “Every support case should be followed by a survey”, says Smith. DiCentral uses this approach to evaluate the support team’s performance for continuous improvement and build ongoing relationships with its customers. These surveys often lead to internal employee awards for excellent service, as well as being considered for awards outside of DiCentral. In 2018 and several years preceding, DiCentral has been awarded the Stevie Award for their outstanding Customer Support. DiCentral’s most recent Stevie Award was given to 7-year veteran Kayla Adair, Customer Support and Connection Analyst at DiCentral, for her back-office and client-facing support. “This award gives the recognition that our customer support team is doing what we need to do,” Kayla stated after receiving her award.

    In summary, support is not just about resolving momentary issues. It’s also about enabling your organization’s long-term health and growth by working alongside as a partner in your EDI journey, and therefore should be a key consideration when investing in this technology.

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