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Why customer and partner communities matter more than ever

It’s more important than ever to be able to virtually connect and share information with customers and partners. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which has forced businesses and individuals around the world to work from home, is just the latest, most drastic indicator that services organizations must be able to adapt to virtual service delivery models to keep their organizations running smoothly and consistently.

In this new remote world, effective partner, customer, and team collaboration is essential.

Does your services organization have the tools it needs to continue delivering on projects while keeping customers and partners in the loop? 

Why Customer and Partner Communities Matter More Than Ever

Customer and partner communities are critical

More and more professional services organizations have turned to community workspaces that enable them to virtually share project information with customers and partners. The right community will provide all stakeholders – in or outside your firm – with access to the most relevant, real-time information, reports, and project plans. It should be where all work is tracked and project metrics are easily produced.

Ideally, your professional services automation (PSA) solution should provide a built-in community offering. In working with some of the world’s top services organizations, we’ve learned that an effective community solution requires several key abilities in order to be most effective:

  • Document sharing: Upload, share, and collaborate on all project-related documents as one team. 
  • Personalization: Offer role-specific functionality and access rights so everyone sees what’s most relevant to them.
  • Mobile enablement: Ensure project updates are timely, information can be accessed when needed, and questions can be answered on the spot.
  • Self-service: Capture partner time, expenses, and budgets for visibility into full project cost. 
  • Social tools: Prompt real-time discussions and provide timely updates.  
  • Schedule visibility: See partner availability, utilization, and schedules. 
  • Brand alignment: Easily make it a natural extension of your customer and partner experience.
Example of a customer and partner community from Certinia PSA

What are the core benefits of communities? 

With the right community in place, you can break down communication barriers between your team, customers, partners, and subcontractors and gain deeper, real-time visibility into projects for a more unified service experience. More specifically, you can expect to achieve:   

Comprehensive visibility
In a community, all stakeholders can have all project-related information at their fingertips, including project activities, resources, plans, risks, budgets, and costs. Everyone gets real-time access to the information needed to make the right decisions at the right time, and project managers can more easily evaluate the contributions and commitments of customers, partners, and contractors.

Quality of delivery
A community helps services teams stay in control of project management, quality of delivery, and, ultimately, customer satisfaction. The right community will make it easy to launch project-related queries, investigate issues, and speed up resolution. It allows for timely entry and access of project, billing, and expense information. It will also minimize the risk of problems such as billing errors and revenue leakage, and help ensure project margins are not compromised.

Team engagement
A community solution provides a platform to deliver and facilitate a healthy “one team” ethos, creating a culture of collaboration, sharing, open engagement, and fun. For consultants, these are often the ingredients for higher levels of job satisfaction, personal motivation, and productivity. 

Real-time data
A community solution provides everyone involved with real-time access to the latest information, including project status reports and invoices. This improves communication across the whole team and enables faster decisions.

Faster billing
A community solution also makes it easier for partners to enter and generate their invoices as quickly as work is completed. They will get paid faster, costs will be reflected in budgets faster, and project managers will all the information they need for reporting and customer billing. 

These are just a few of the benefits you can expect to achieve by leveraging a community solution. For a comprehensive overview, download the ebook: Why Customer and Partner Communities Matter More Than Ever, covering the impact communities have on customer retention and project delivery, as well as how they benefit the various roles involved in the services delivery processes. 

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