Software vendors utilize a variety of client listening tools, profess to be “client-driven” but often exhibit their institutional views about what clients need and how tools should be used in work and deed. “Listening” practices take a variety of forms: user groups, client conferences, advisory boards, surveys, focus groups, account exec engagement programs, large client visits by executives and other variations of engagement. A common characteristic of these practices is the absence of any hard data analysis that might be used to drive discussions. Often the focus is on features and functions which might be added or changed to enhance sales, to the exclusion of discussion around support, performance or realized operating value – topics of key concern to clients.
Tools are important. Features, functionality, performance, reliability, configuration flexibility are all elements necessary to create value for clients and prospects which drive loyalty, sales, and spending levels. No question.
But tools, by themselves, clearly do not drive realization of value potential by clients. KLAS and other evaluative services report wide variation in customer satisfaction among clients with the same tools.
How can this be? If the tools are the same, then the variation in subjective outcome reports must come from other variables in the realized value equation. What is this equation? Realized Value = f(Tool Functionality, Sound Configuration, Operating Execution). Software vendor management will quickly agree that they own Tool Functionality. They may privately agree that their clients own Sound Configuration and Execution. Client management often struggles with this assignment of ownership – when things work, a client may proudly own Configuration and Execution. When outcomes are unsatisfactory, the vendor has been guilty of poor implementation advice, ineffective training, poor installation or is just bad.
Time for a radical change in software leadership thinking. Tools are not enough. Solutions are the value paradigm.
But software vendors are not client operators. How can they be expected to provide effective configuration, implementation, training program and management metric guidance to those who know the business most intimately?
Enter Big Data and analytics. Vendors, use your relationships to assemble a broad database of client performance outcomes spanning clinical quality, financial sustainability, medical staff efficiency and patient experience. Analyze to identify highest performing clients by individual facet and overall performance. Conduct in-depth research into supporting tool configurations, infrastructure investment, workflow, content management, metric utilization, training and practice reinforcement programming to capture the practices of highest performing clients. Develop data-driven best solution practice profiles for different types of clients. All clients are not the same, recognize and support the nuances of client segments.
Clients are proud, stubborn and change-resistant – especially when proposed change looks like negative feedback from an outsider who is not an operator themselves. Develop a client engagement program which identifies the “best of the best” from objective result data. Offer client management their private portal which allows them to compare local performance against “best practice” performance, modeling the result to project possible future outcomes. Abstract local tool and content configurations producing an objective assessment of levels of consistency with best practice baselines. Enable clients to profile their training, metrics and operating discipline programs, compare with baseline profiles to reveal any gaps or discrepancies that may exist.
Client management wants to succeed. They must handle a wide array of industry, economic, regulatory and other challenges daily. Clients look to succeeding peer operators for examples of successful practices and solutions to these problems. Vendors can enable the search for sound outcomes and answers to be efficient, focused, relevant and adaptable for their clients.
Vendors need healthy clients. Clients need more than tools. They need credible, proven, practical solutions.
Struggling to help clients be successful with their investment in your tools and services? Let us help you design objective, data driven client success support programs that can enhance value and satisfaction to new levels.