New supplier finder and certification scheme rewards IT providers that really do put their customers first
Eight out of 10 consumers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience (see opposite), but with everyone claiming to be the best for customer service, how are end users meant identify those who pay it more than just lip service, and how can providers who really do go the extra mile prove it?
Could techtick be the answer? Like a Checkatrade for the IT industry, the new supplier finder and certification scheme provides independent validation of a reseller’s capabilities and the quality of the customer experience, giving IT buyers an easy way to find a supplier in their area with relevant expertise and a history of customer satisfaction.
Techtick co-founder Mark Ogden says there is a clear need for such a scheme, particularly amongst SMEs and in vertical markets, such as schools and legal firms.
“These organisations don’t have professional buyers and they don’t employ large IT departments that have that skill set. Yet there is relatively little independent, credible resource to help them locate the best providers of certain technology specialisms with experience in relevant market sectors. If you are a lawyer – a High Street or a regional firm with 20 or 30 lawyers – you are going to be much more comfortable buying from someone who is supplying into the legal market already and has successful relationships with law firms like you.
“In the consumer market, there are lots of review and information sites like Trustpilot, Feefo, TripAdvisor and Reevoo that allow people to make more informed choices. But on the B2B side, in IT, telecommunications, print, services and support, there isn’t really that independent advice and filter, that ability to find reputable, credible providers in your sector who have the experience that you require,” he said.
Ogden claims that unlike previous B2B certification schemes or live review sites, which can be open to bogus reviews, techtick is based on detailed market research into ‘outcomes and results’ – Ogden himself is Market Research Society-qualified.
As part of the supplier approval process, techtick will survey customers to assess the quality of the client experience across pre-sales, project implementation and post-sales support. For certification in one vertical (e.g. education) and one specialism (e.g. IT & infrastructure), a supplier must have a minimum of five satisfied customers in that sector. For each additional sector (e.g. legal) or specialism (e.g. telecommunications), the supplier must have three clients able to provide techtick with positive feedback.
In addition to customer audits, techtick has various other requirements.
Each certified supplier will have its own profile page on the techtick website, showing what sectors/technologies they have been approved for, along with feedback from satisfied customers.
Certification lasts for a year and is renewable without further audits. To maintain members’ high standards, the techtick website enables end users to submit feedback on their performance. Should a pattern of customer dissatisfaction emerge, a supplier’s certification will be reviewed.
Techtick is clearly very useful for end users as a means of finding customer-centric suppliers in their area. There are also big benefits for IT resellers, including:
1. Lead generation – techtick can be used to make a request for information or quote though the system;
2. Differentiation through customer satisfaction – techtick gives suppliers a way of demonstrating their technical expertise, their industry/sector experience and their commitment to customer service;
3. Third party, audited research
independent techtick client survey feedback conducted as part of the approval process can be used by suppliers for marketing purposes;
4. Recognition as a reputable supplier – Certified suppliers can use the techtick logo on marketing material, websites, vehicles etc..
Open to all
Ogden says that techtick pricing has been set at a level to attract suppliers of all sizes.
“It is a relatively affordable process, because there are a lot of smaller organisations doing really good things, good relationship-based local support for their clients, and we want them to be able to get involved as much as anyone else,” he said.
The annual fee, which includes membership approval for one market sector and one technology area (e.g. SMEs for IT & infrastructure) and end user referrals and sales leads, costs £650 (or £65 per month) for organisation with 10 or fewer employees, and £995 (or £95 per month) for organisations with more than 10 employees. Certification for each additional category or sector costs £250.
A corporate rate of £2,995 covers membership in multiple technologies and sectors.
The success of techtick will depend on its ability to attract a sufficient number f end users to the website. To this end, it will also provide independent content with advice on business technology and the procurement process and a no-frills directory of non-approved suppliers, so that in areas where there is not yet an approved reseller, users can still find useful information. In addition, Ogden plans to run a rolling PR and social media programme to raise awareness in specific market sectors.
“Our aim is to try and become known in certain areas. For example, if you are an education client we would provide independent content and run groups on LinkedIn and through social media, so you could talk to buyers in other schools. Not everything has to be moderated by us,” he said.
“On the PR side, the aim is to focus activity on certain verticals. Every two or three months we will choose a different vertical sector to focus on depending on what activities are going on in the market place. For example, in the run-up to the BETT show, we would focus on the education sector and produce relevant content for buyers in schools.”
Amid mounting evidence of a disconnect between the quality of the customer service organisations think they provide and what their customers actually experience (see below), there is a clear need for a certification scheme based on independent client feedback. By providing buyers with a quick and easy way to find reputable suppliers with relevant experience and satisfied customers, techtick removes much of the fear, uncertainty and doubt from the supplier selection process. For suppliers themselves, it provides independent validation of their commitment to customer service and a way to differentiate themselves from competitors who make claims they can’t back up.