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Channel Matters Blog > June 2015 > Partners are Your Brand - Choose Wisely

Partners are Your Brand - Choose Wisely

by Rich Blakeman
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Managing the customer experience presents a challenge for the channel sales organization that doesn't have direct contact with the majority of its customers. The vendor organization has very little control of the customer experience outside the partners they select and those they choose to retain in their partner programs. For these organizations, the partners are the brand.


Volume isn't everything

When we talk about market coverage, we often talk in terms of filling in the holes. Are we following buying trends to ensure our products are available through the right channels? Have we recruited the right partners, so we have coverage for our volume products as well as for our newer, more complex offerings? Do we have the right number of partners in all of our geographies? Do we have enough partners focused on unique industries or other niches?

These are all important considerations and will often form the basis for our recruitment plan. However, results matter. If we're going to put customers at the core of our strategy, we need to concern ourselves not only with how much partners sell in each of our channels or market categories, but also the kind of experience they create for our customers.

According to Rich Blakeman, Managing Director, Channel Enablers, "The question multi-channel organizations need to ask themselves is, can you out-design and out-execute your competitors, creating an omni-channel customer experience that is consistently excellent enough for customers to choose you first – regardless of which route they choose?"

 

Measuring what you want to manage

There's an old saying, you can't manage what you can't measure. That's true enough, but the corollary is that you have to measure what you want to manage. Organizations that put customers at the core of their strategy will have key performance metrics that tie back to the customer experience, customer satisfaction being the most obvious one.

"Customer satisfaction is a primary leading indicator for the channel organization," says Blakeman. "Any customer satisfaction issues signal not just loss of repeat business, but also damage to your brand in the marketplace, especially in today's connected world."

To pinpoint customer experience challenges, organizations need to segment satisfaction scores by channel and all the way down to the individual partner level. Then, as part of their regular partner planning, they need to review these scores with partners to diagnose potential issues and create joint plans for resolution.

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