Two roads diverged in a budding industry.
Luckily companies don’t have to choose.
But many do, and many lose.

In the marketing technology industry, the thought of being both “high tech” and “high touch” can seem impossible. Building a great product and adequately supporting your user base can be difficult leading many companies to focus on one or the other. Happy customers who are serviced well can look past imperfect technology and a leading technology tool can make inconsistent support seem forgivable.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Two paths in the woods

Marketing technology companies tend to focus on one road or the other – technology or service. At Brandmuscle, we chose both, and it truly has made all the difference. (h/t Robert Frost)

We were asked recently about our customer support strategy – and specifically if we outsource our customer support. A question that makes some tech company’s squirm and forces others to pivot to a carefully pre-canned message is a question we relish. In fact, we get a little giddy.

At Brandmuscle, being asked about customer support is the easiest softball question we get. We’ve built our business around delivering a best-in-class technology platform for local marketers that simultaneously gives them the personalized support they need to crush their local marketing campaigns. Knowing this mindset is valued in the marketplace, we’ve put together a two-part post that turns our support philosophy inside-out and gives you the perspective you need to select the right marketing technology provider that’s right for you.

In the first post, we’ve provided a list of questions you can ask prospective technology vendors to determine which path they chose — tech or service — and estimate the service level you’ll receive.

Seven questions to determine if your marketing vendor is more service- or technology- based:

  1. Does the vendor own the technology product?
    • Is the vendor’s software proprietary and something it’s developed in-house or is it licensed from a third-party?
    • Does the vendor you are considering have a special relationship with that third-party, i.e. certifications or partnerships?
  2. How often does the vendor update its software?
    • Are the updates user driven? Corporate driven?
    • How much does the vendor invest in R&D?
    • Can the vendor share a copy of its product roadmap with you?
    • How often are new software releases made available?
    • Will you have to pay for these upgrades?
  3. How does the vendor provide service and support?
    • Does the vendor employ the people who will provide user support?
    • How many people are on the support team and where are they located?
    • Are they dedicated to your account or do they support all clients?
  4. How is support provided (i.e. email, phone, etc.)?
    • What is the vendors average response time?
    • Can the vendor provide support in other languages and time zones?
  5. What is the vendor’s escalation process?
    • How close does the support team work with client service teams?
    • Does the support tram have the ability to be proactive?
  6. What type of training is available at the start and ongoing?
    • How often is training offered?
    • Is training live? Pre-recorded? Both?
  7. Can the vendor provide reporting on support requests?
    • Do they review this information with you or use it to make improvements?
    • Do they share this information with their strategy and development teams?

Not all of these questions will apply to your business need or the technology vendors you’re pursuing, and some may be redundant to details in your initial inquiry or RFP process — but you deserve to know the answers. During the past few years, Brandmuscle has on-boarded an abundance of clients from other local marketing platforms for one reason: the lack of adequate service at their former provider.

In the second post on this topic, we’ll share thoughts from our customer support team to show how striving for best-in-class support can complement tech companies no matter what path they’ve taken – even a best-in-class technology product like Brandmuscle.

In the meantime, use the comments below to let us know what questions you would add to this list or if you can think of tech vendors that chose one path or the other (please refrain from naming names to protect the innocent).