Customer perception about IT Professional Services in the Greek market
They couldn’t be more wrong because the vendor will – at best – use own judgment to tackle these issues (with not the best results, at times) or – at worst – will do nothing to tackle them (since they could very well be unknown to them!).
- First of all, the customer needs to understand who is going to be initially trained: Are all the users part of the training program (even those residing in distant geographical locations?) or is this going to be a “train the trainer” approach?
- Secondly it has to be clear that the initial training will of course cover all aspects of the “standard system” but will probably not include any special reference to the specific business problems or issues that the customer is facing. These are things that a software trainer simply cannot know and solve. They are the responsibility of a business consultant and they most probably have to follow another training cycle, different from this of the “system start-up phase”.
These issues can very easily lead to misunderstandings and false expectations from the “start-up training program”, especially in the most common case where the vendor will require additional fees for additional training services. It is safe to assume that the initial training will be part of the “purchasing package” (or, if not, then there should be a clear reference to the relevant cost on the Software Offer that is displayed to the customer). But additional training (asked for after weeks or months since the system start-up) will incur additional fees.
All of the above are significant sources of revenue for the software provider and most of them are far beyond the scope of the initial software purchase. There have been numerous cases where customer expectations reach and even exceed those limits and for an expected zero cost. This is a Greek phenomenon that, in my humble opinion, has been the result of many years of “price wars” among software companies. In their effort to acquire bigger and bigger market shares, some companies offered “more for less”. This resulted in a general “educational result” for the customers that comes down to “software costs a little and professional services cost nothing, since they are part of the vendor’s effort to get and retain happy customers”. This does not happen in other parts of the world where it is clear that the software itself encloses some quantity of brains and experience but the following professional services include much of the same.