As head of global Propertyware support, Chris Karp is overseeing a multi-part plan to radically improve the single family customer experience.
Chris Karp’s place at the helm of Propertyware global support puts him in a prime position to influence the customer experience. And as the company moves to dramatically improve its support, he’s the point man on an ambitious multi-pronged plan.
“The pipe dream is to make the products and training so easy that customers don’t even need support,” says Karp. “In effect, we’re always trying to eliminate our jobs.”
In a previous blog article, SVP James Wagley described the company’s current focus on eliminating weak spots in the products before adding any new bells and whistles. He said customers want what they’ve already got to be trouble-free and easy to use more than they want new features, and that is what’s behind this initiative – now in full swing and already delivering big changes.
Empowering customers to get the most from solutions
In synchrony with improving the products themselves is Karp’s effort to empower single family customers in their use of the products. “Nobody enjoys calling support to solve a problem or figure out how to use their software,” says Karp. “We’re taking a proactive, preventative approach, pinning down common issues and editing either the training or products so the confusion doesn’t occur in the first place.”
Karp’s dream of eliminating the need for his support team altogether is, of course, just that: a dream. Karp explains: “There’s no such thing as serious business software that doesn’t require support, so while we work to reduce the need for it as much as possible, we’re also shoring up our ability to deliver it in the best possible way when it is needed.”
“What we’re moving towards is a much deeper engagement with our customers,” Karp says. “I want our people to understand each of our customers’ businesses – what they do hour after hour, how they’re unique, how we can help them be better. This way we become partners in their success, rather than just a company that supplies them software.”
Leveraging single family industry knowledge
Karp says he wants his support people to bring two kinds of knowledge to the table: not just product knowledge, but industry knowledge as well. “There’s a limit to how much you can help without understanding property management,” he says. “The business and the software used to run it are intertwined, and customers want someone on the phone who speaks their language and knows how to solve their business problem, not just product features and fixes.” He gives the example of a CPA working within a property management company trying to discuss a general ledger issue with a software techie who knows nothing about accounting. “We’re working on ways to enhance this business knowledge in our support team, and channel customers to the people who can help them most,” he says.
Karp wants to ramp up not only the quality of Propertyware’s support, but also how it’s delivered. He envisions a flexible system that provides support when and how customers prefer it – whether by phone, chat or email. “I also don’t want our people limited in terms of how much time they spend with a client working on a particular issue,” says Karp. “Whether it takes fifteen minutes or an hour and a half, we want them to know we are there for them and will get to the bottom of it.” Karp envisions a streamlined communication system for issues that need to be addressed offline by the support team, so customers can check the status of their support requests without having to call in.
Karp says many support issues that come into his department are not actual problems with the software, but rather requests for help in understanding how to use it. The real product weaknesses are channeled to the development team, which is making progress on addressing each and every problem area that has been identified in the field before moving on to new features.
“If we pull this off, and I think we will, we’ll plug all the holes in our current support so that it is seamless across the board, and customers will get consistently prompt and accurate answers to their challenges from people who deeply understand their businesses,” concludes Karp. “Thousands of people have built very successful businesses around Propertyware, and as we concentrate on product improvements this year we’ll be simultaneously elevating our support; I am confident we’ll emerge from this initiative an absolutely great company to do business with.”