Service Agreements Are Undoubtedly Important
The evolution of technology has inevitably led to an evolution in post-sales support agreements. Once referred to as maintenance, they are now filed under post-sales service agreements. This is due to the advent of cloud technology and a focus on software technology that is more evergreen than the historically exclusive on-premises solutions. Additionally, in this age of communication and transparency, consumers have higher expectations than ever before concerning a partnership that includes ongoing service support. This means service agreement automation is more important than ever.
Service agreements can benefit everyone involved, provided they have evolved alongside their technology and are implemented correctly. They are an excellent way to add extra recurring revenue at higher profit margins. When service agreements are inadequate, however, technology integrators become vulnerable to lost profits, dissatisfied customers, and frustrated team members.
Here are some common issues with service agreement automation (and how you can avoid them).
If you overlook this service agreement automation, you might be losing revenue during a sale.
Many account reps and businesses don’t consistently offer service agreements at the time they present the proposal. While you might be thinking that it can’t hurt to skip this step, you could be putting yourself at risk.
Just like a scope of work, service agreements are beneficial in that they:
- Provide clarity regarding the types of services and maintenance that are included in the initial project, and
- Tell the buyer what is not included, eliminating any confusion down the road that could lead to a customer satisfaction or profit margin issue.
Automate a service agreement to be included in every proposal from the very start. Not only does this practice make the maintenance/repair/update terms crystal clear to the customer, but it also provides additional evidence of your technology expertise. Automating the service agreement ensures that you don’t delay the actual proposal to include the service agreement and you never forget to include it.
This common error could erode your profits and credibility.
Many organizations either cut and paste their terms and conditions or insert images of the agreement into a document. Unfortunately, this may lead to incorrect terms and conditions being included. It’s only natural when you think about a) how quickly proposals are turned around and b) how many types of technology are currently available. For example, it’s very easy for sales teams to accidentally include the Ts and Cs for a cloud solution in a proposal designed for a hybrid solution.
This not only erodes your credibility but is also legally binding.
When you work with detail-oriented people, you must be cautious and assume that agreements will be read using a fine-tooth comb. If the wrong terms and conditions are present, you will have to honor them at your own cost.
When you’re using a manual process to include the terms and conditions for every piece of technology, it’s very easy to overlook an individual piece of that technology. If service becomes necessary for that particular technology, the customer may assume that an overlooked item is included, and again you’re fixing it out of your own pocket.
The best way to ensure that you’re offering the correct terms and conditions is to implement a strong service agreement automation process. Our most successful customers create a link to the terms and conditions for each solution (or technology) on their website. Leveraging CorsPro SalesDoc Architect (SDA) to automate those terms and conditions ensures that our clients are confident the services perfectly match every technology in the entire solution. SDA users base their service agreement on the technology sold without the proposal being delayed or the team hunting and searching for every single required term or condition.
Here’s an issue that lasts for the life of a client relationship (+ seeps into your other customer experiences)
It may seem silly but fulfilling a service agreement can be an issue. Although service agreements could be very profitable for your business, this is only true if they are manageable for your organization. That’s another process which is difficult to do manually.
For example, if you, like many organizations, have different tiers of support engineers, the most economical practice is to dispatch them specifically based on need (because you’re paying for experience). This is an especially complicated process, but it’s how profit margins are made or broken, and customer loyalty is created or lost. The goal is to provide exactly the level of experience and expertise needed for a specific project.
You also don’t want to waste your engineer management time trying to make these decisions when they could be directing their energy to bringing in new business, engineering solutions, and recruiting new talent.
Take, for example, one of our customers who has taken advantage of the “in footprint/out of footprint” toggle in the CorsPro SDA. Because this organization has to charge differently for customers that are in or out of their local footprint, they have created an automated process for building their service agreements to ensure that the customer is correctly charged.
These types of tiered support can all be automated with the CorsPro SDA. The operations team can fulfill the service contract that gives customers exactly what they need while protecting profit margins in the process. No more wasting costly resources, such as time or mental energy. It’s all done for your team, leaving them free to close more sales.
The key to avoiding support agreement regret is to implement an automated solution.
You want one that will handle the logistics of developing a service agreement that fits the solution exactly and provides the customer with high levels of clarity. Your service agreement is another valuable component that sets and reinforces customer expectations from the initial installation throughout your continuing relationship.