Progress

KLAS and Vendors – Consistent Progress through Candid Feedback

In 2015, KLAS met with a vendor to discuss the vendor’s customers. Because sessions like this are often intense, closed-door discussions, let’s simply call this company “the service firm.” KLAS, using feedback from providers, pushed the service firm in several areas that would help the firm’s customers be more successful.

2015 recommendations

  1. Have more executive presence and seek to partner with your customers.
  2. Improve communication with your customers.
  3. Strive to deliver above and beyond for your customers by being more strategic with them.

The service firm’s executive team took this advice to heart and followed up on these initiatives. When we met again in early 2017, the lead executives over several departments described the initiatives that they had been plugging in over the previous year. One was to give every customer an executive sponsor who would come in on a monthly basis, listen to customers, and attempt to solve problems. The firm was sensitive to the balance of helping without trying to only sell customers more services or products.

These conversations between the service firm and providers drove improved collaboration with providers and a sense of partnership on the part of customers. Additionally, the service firm had become more strategic with clients by pulling back the curtain to show some of their tools and processes and providing transparency on the progress of each project.

The service firm had also provided some tools to let customers pick consultants and see how they performed. Additionally, consultants had been trained and coached to look for opportunities to provide customers with guidance on a strategic level.

These tools, along with increased strategic guidance from the firm, had caused customers to compliment the tools, processes, and methodologies of the service firm. Satisfaction had grown.

Sometimes, KLAS brings the provider’s voice into the boardroom knowing that the feedback will bring frustration. Thankfully, the 2017 meeting was a chance to confirm to the firm that their hard work was paying off. Providers had also brought to our attention areas in which the service firm could improve, so we came with additional recommendations for the firm.

2017 Recommendations

  1. Be prescriptive in how you sell and set expectations. Continue to deliver above and beyond expectations. Focus on “serving to sell.”
  2. Be willing to reevaluate or walk away from a project that will lead to missed expectations.
  3. Rigorously train internal staff members and consultants to be highly knowledgeable and to provide strategic guidance to customers. This will reduce the churn of customers sending back consultants because of poor experiences.

KLAS had conducted another full analysis of the provider (customer) voice, so we presented an update to the service firm’s team. Much of the conversation was celebratory and complimentary to the service firm for having driven their overall-satisfaction scores rise by an average of 10 points over the previous 18 months. They had also seen a decrease in the number of missed expectations over the previous 12 months. We encouraged the firm to continue to deliver above and beyond expectations and shared a comment from a provider who had said, “my expectation now is that they deliver above expectations.” That is a high bar to be measured against. 

The service firm responded positively to the feedback and began to strategize about how to set great expectations and build in tools, methodologies, and strategic insights so that they could clear that sky-high bar.

Part of the service firm’s secret sauce lies in the firm’s ability to quickly replace poor consultants with better ones—at the request of customers—on the service firm’s dime and with no extra cost or breach of contract. Customers had complimented the firm in this effort. Most would be satisfied with a compliment, and stop searching for improvement at that point.

However, providers had asked, “Should customers have to request different consultants at all? Is there a way for the service firm to vet and screen their consultants better beforehand and match them with customers to avoid this kind of churn?” KLAS passed this feedback along. The service firm was aware of the churn and even commented that reducing the problem by even 10% could result save them millions of dollars. The service firm appreciated our feedback and already has plans to improve the problem.

Provider feedback further encouraged the firm to partner even better with customers by “serving to sell.” KLAS told the firm that during the sales process, they should focus on outcomes and delivering success for customers instead of just trying to close deals.

KLAS also advised the firm to be willing to walk away from a deal that could turn into a dumpster fire. The firm responded by telling us that they were being pulled toward about a project of that description. Thankfully, the firm felt that they would probably walk away from that engagement.

We concluded our 2017 discussion by talking about more rigorous training relative to the firm’s internal staff, and the firm has begun working on a few things to improve their internal training and help their people to become experts.

Ultimately, the lessons KLAS has learned from “the service firm” can be broadly applied to vendors throughout HIT. Vendors who seek to build strategic partnerships with providers, strive to exceed expectations, and serve to sell can expect a more satisfied customer base, less churn, and customer success.

KLAS data tells a story, and this is one of them. To learn more, join the KLAS community.