Why High-Touch Service Is Essential for Organizations with Complex Requirements

Someone once told us, “If you’re going to use it often, make sure it’s of high quality.”

He was talking about a calculator of all things, but the advice is equally smart for customer service. Nobody enjoys poor customer service, but when you have to deal with it regularly, poor customer service is, well, the worst.

If your organization has complex requirements to manage with software, expect to need a good amount of detailed customer service. So to save time, prevent aggravation and get better results from a solution, make sure the vendor you choose provides quality service, in particular, what we call high-touch service.

In this post, we’ll discuss what high-touch service is; when high-touch service is most important; and questions to ask to evaluate vendors’ customer service.


What Is High-Touch Customer Service?

Most customer service today is mediocre to terrible, yet few companies will admit to it. In a survey by Lee Resources, 80 percent of companies said they delivered “superior” customer service, but only 8 percent of people thought those same companies delivered “superior” service.

We won’t bore you with all of the issues with customer service (this post from LiveChat does a good job), since you almost surely have experienced frustration from poor service, especially if you had an out-of-the-ordinary concern.

Why is customer service so poor? In large part, it’s because customer service isn’t cost-effective for most vendors—especially large ones. They work hard to make their software solutions simple to use so they can minimize customer service, which they provide through call centers using unskilled staff.

This formula works OK for a typical client, but not for organizations with complex requirements. Such “one size fits all” solutions are often too rigid to meet complex needs, and the service model can result in delays, other major problems and ultimately dissatisfaction. In fact, surveys show that service representatives’ competency is the top factor in a happy customer service experience.

This is why many organizations with complex requirements are choosing vendors that offer highly configurable solutions that are combined with high-touch service to enable the solutions to be configured optimally.

With high-touch service:

  • The person who answers the phone or returns your email is highly knowledgeable about the software and about your particular complex challenges.
  • You get to know the customer service representative(s) because they regularly help you.
  • Your issue gets fixed faster due to the knowledge of the service representative and because you won’t be stuck in a long queue. Unlike what is often the case with a call center, the vendor has “skin in the game,” making addressing your issue satisfactorily a high priority.
  • Access to senior people is quick or immediate.


When Is High-Touch Service Most Valuable?

High-touch service is helpful for all organizations, but organizations with complex challenges find it especially critical in three areas.

  1. Configuring the Software and Maintaining Integrations with Other Solutions

When using a highly configurable software solution, configuring it to your needs is essential for achieving a high level of automation that you couldn’t achieve with a “one size fits all” solution.

A customer service representative with great knowledge about the software and your particular needs helps you optimize the software to those needs. For example, organizations with complex payroll can automate how employees are paid, how benefits and entitlements are determined, and how workflows and approvals are handled—even when they have multiple rules for each.

High-touch service is also important for dealing with integration and related software issues. Organizations with complex payroll requirements, for example, often use numerous point solutions that must work together properly. For example, a local government (governments often have complex requirements) might have an applicant tracking system, onboarding software, and other solutions that it is using along with the payroll system. In this scenario, the local government would need to:

  • Ensure HCM interfaces and integrations are operating per requirements.
  • Audit the accuracy of the integration to ensure that data are correct.
  • Add any new point solutions to be integrated.

Any of the above can lead to challenges that highly knowledgeable and dedicated high-touch service can help solve, while the same could not be said of typical call center service.

  1. When There’s Staff Turnover or an Urgent Question

New people require more training and customer service, while even long-time users might run into a challenge with an urgent task that they don’t know to solve. In both cases, the organization can’t afford to wait for slow service, especially in a critical area such as payroll. In both cases, the organization benefits greatly from effective customer service and training from knowledgeable professionals.

  1. When the Client’s Requirements Change

It’s common for a client’s requirements to change. In payroll administration, for example, we regularly see:

  • New requirements resulting from collective bargaining agreements
  • Changes in benefit rules
  • Mergers and acquisitions creating new organizational structures, but with some pay and benefit provisions grandfathered.

With rigid solutions or with poor customer service, new requirements can cause major problems. But high-touch customer service can help ensure that the new requirements are addressed effectively, quickly, and stress-free.


Questions to Ask About Service

To ensure that you’re getting high-touch service, ask questions of vendors and vendors’ clients about service.

If the vendor provides service to clients, ask:

  • Is there a dedicated account management team, and will we have a dedicated account manager?
  • Does the vendor have service/support staff who are knowledgeable about the platform?
  • Does the vendor have service/support staff who are knowledgeable about your organization’s unique requirements?
  • Has the vendor demonstrated timely responses and effective resolution of issues?

If the vendor has clients using third parties for service (implementation or support), take note. This can be a red flag. Get answers to these questions:

  • Why is the vendor not providing service itself? Does it not have a high-touch model?
  • What happens if the third party is unable to provide service?
  • What is the relationship between the vendor and the third party?
  • Will the vendor stand behind the third party’s involvement?

Ultimately, if your organization has complex requirements, it’s a must to ensure that a solution provider has quality, high-touch service. For such service is critical to achieving quality results.

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