Telecommunication Expense Management (TEM) providers come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s no surprise that it’s difficult to know what to expect from the services side of TEM. Between the various software and/or service models, TEM brings together many otherwise disconnected moving parts. Large organizations often rely heavily on the services side in a business process outsourcing (BPO) model. But what should great services look like at your TEM vendor of choice?
The role of TEM within organizations is expanding and interconnecting new services. It’s rapidly evolving into the more inclusive Communications Lifecycle Management, driving a new focus on strategy and business impact. With such an integral process to driving overall value, best-in-class telecom departments hold their TEM providers to the highest of standards. It can make all the difference.
Before I discuss what great service excellence looks like, let’s review the most common things Calero hears when organizations come to us looking to achieve more with their program.
I call these the Sad Six:
- Poor response times. Do you ask a question of your TEM team and hear crickets? Does it take constant pinging to hear back and when you do get a response, do you get the detailed answer you expected?
- Missed SLAs. Do you trust your vendor to actually deliver what they are contracted to do? Do you know how they are performing? Do they give you regular status updates to measure their performance delivery against the contracted SLAs?
- Turnover within the TEM provider. Are your contact people always changing? If a different person is helping you every time you have an issue, there is no continuity and it’s impossible to develop a good business relationship.
- Weak coordination between internal vendor teams. Does it seem like the mobile team isn’t on the same page as the expense management team? Are they operating in silos or not seeing the same data?
- Lack of information about your TEM program performance. Do you feel like your TEM program is behind a dark curtain, with little insight or access to data or the status of requests in workflows?
- Fear of missing payments. Timely and accurate payments are the minimal baseline for any TEM program. That said, many of the organizations we see in the market simply don’t feel like they have enough control via their TEM vendors’ services to understand if there is an issue.
If you’re feeling any of these pains today, sadly, you’re not alone. After all, it’s one thing to claim “we have great service,” and quite another to illustrate how great service is achieved. To find a TEM vendor committed to providing excellent service levels, here’s a checklist of what you should look for:
- Customer service team dedicated to your account. Look for a vendor that links its success to your success with a team that is dedicated to your account. These service agents should be focused on your priorities, becoming your strategic point of contact. In the end, they should be an extension of your team, and you want to make sure you can contact them directly – day or night.
- Single point of contact – no matter which service you need. Look for the vendor that can provide a true single point of contact, one that coordinates and helps to navigate any cross-team services, ensuring that nothing gets lost and no finger-pointing occurs.
- Commitment to providing predictable performance levels. Look for a provider that has a disciplined approach to service excellence. For example, Calero employs Lean as our management approach to, among other things, continuously create and improve processes/workflows. It doesn’t have to be Lean per se, but ask the vendor for evidence of how it manages a predictable performance level.
- Willingness to be held accountable (all the time). The industry standard, in terms of accountability, is driven via a quarterly business review. This is when you’ll meet and discuss the highlights of the program. However, with the right services environment, your vendor should really be held accountable each and every day. Plus, you should know whether the organization is meeting goals using ad-hoc or self-service analytic capabilities (in real time).
- Company size. The adage “you’re not a number” should ring true in this case. Look for an organization that is big enough to have a dedicated service team. At the same time, you don’t want a company so big that you’re always dialing into a call center speaking with someone new when you need support.
TEM is too critical to your organization to trust the process to a vendor that isn’t as excited about your success as you are. If you’d like to learn more about our commitment to clients, take a peek at the Calero White Glove approach to services.