As C/ETRM systems advance, delivering the latest technical innovations supporting commodity trading, the successful software vendor will practice what Steve Jobs so famously said: “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”
With C/ETRM systems being such a substantial investment, customers can ill afford failure. Realizing their C/ETRM vision for increased efficiency, cost-effectiveness and happy productive employees, calls for a comprehensive engagement approach that ensures success and delivers a superior customer experience. Prospective customers therefore will be interested to learn from C/ETRM vendors: Is your C/ETRM solution Not Just Capturing Deals, but also the Customer?
C/ETRM industry surveys, such as from CommodityPoint, indicate that almost a third of projects had failed either entirely, or materially failed, to meet the goals as originally envisioned when the project started. Customers frequently carry out thorough evaluations with questionnaires, demonstrations and proof of concepts. Although they are impressed with the bells and whistles of the system, they often still don’t see their desired outcomes.
Among several reasons is the failure of vendors for not doing the ‘whole job’. To do the ‘whole job’ is delivering beyond lip-service, anticipate customer expectations and carry the ball. In C/ETRM solution terms: deliver on time and within budget, provide easy-to-use and intuitive software, and excel in customer support services.
On time and within Budget
As the aforementioned survey identified, there are several critical success factors for C/ETRM system implementation. When it comes to an on-time and within budget delivery, the vendor must commit to making experienced and knowledgeable consultants available.
These consultants engage with the customers’ team as a partner to achieve the desired results. Actively collaborating together creates a foundation for finding effective solutions and an environment where both have skin in the game and failure is not an option.
Accommodating this process is following an iterative implementation methodology, such as an Agile process. This approach provides flexibility and adaptability to changes that invariably arise during the process. It’s designed to deliver small “wins” that demonstrate success, project momentum and therefore a positive customer experience.
Ease of Using the System
Regardless of the core-team’s recommendation and management’s mandate, C/ETRM projects fail due to poor user adoption. This is not only due to how change was managed or whether sufficient training was given, but also due to software that wasn’t developed using best practices in user experience design. In this context, consider the impact of consumerization – the reorientation of products designed to focus on the end user – as one of the most important IT trends.
It better recognizes how users interact with software in their daily work as they do in their private lives with intuitive screens, fast data entry, easy outputs and report-writing, flexible functionality that can be tailored as well as support for deployment options like the cloud or mobile devices like tablets. Companies are no democracy but user-friendly software has a huge impact on keeping the crowd satisfied while meeting the set corporate goals.
Customer Support Services
No one is happy if things don’t work when they expect it to work. However, users can live with incidental errors when the process of reporting is smooth, the responsiveness high, the work-arounds quick and final resolutions complete. Because at this stage the software is widely used, here is where vender perceptions are created.
Allowing customers to easily submit incident reports via electronic means helps to accelerate diagnosis while keeping the correspondence together for easy tracking by both the customer and vendor. Adding regional and global presence, this further accommodates the resolution process while avoiding the concern that the customer is merely a number in the support system.
For optimal peace of mind, qualified C/ETRM vendors may literally do the ‘whole job’ for customers by taking on application support via managed services, thereby acting as the customer’s internal IT. With the vendor carrying the ball, the mind-set and concerns of the customer will be better understood. It provides the necessary controls and makes for an exceptional experience for the vendor.
C/ETRM project failures are costly. Identifying the right solution goes beyond just the C/ETRM software functionality. The vendor’s engagement approach needs to show customer care beyond lip-service.
Pioneer Solutions understands this and follows through on also ‘capturing’ the customer. Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that per the 2016 Energy Risk survey, ETRM end users in utilities and power/supply trading companies as well as traders and consultants worldwide voted Pioneer Solutions number one for Overall Best for Project Delivery on Time and Within Budget, Ease of Using the System, and Customer Support Services. We are capturing customers looking for that experience!