Shepherd: Prioritising Customer Service Over its Convenience

Published on 1 月 18, 2023

Shepherd CMMS puts client satisfaction at the core of its operations. That may sound like yet another platitude, but most companies that make that claim don’t back it up by carrying the cost and work burden of a policy put in place solely to improve the experiences of their customers. 

Yet that is what Shepherd whenever possible following service adaptation requests from clients. Rather than make changes for a customer and then forever keep billing that customer for the upkeep the changes require, Shepherd internalizes the changes and makes them part of what they offer to everyone. Those changes then become the responsibility of Shepherd and not its clients.

Custom script

This blog covers the situation when a software function is separate from the rest of the product.  It is a stand alone coding feature that is not supported by regular updates due to the fact it is specific to a particular customer requirement and not users across the board. For the purposes of this blog piece, let’s call these coding instances “custom code” since, ultimately, that is what they are. This blog also clarifies why this custom code is rarely in the client’s best interests.

At the point when Shepherd and a customer enter into the planning phase of an implementation, they discuss the goals and preferences of the customer. That customer may want to be able to do things with their NetSuite/Shepherd combination that are specific to them and aren’t currently possible. In these instances Shepherd attempts to push a customer away from individual  customisations.

Shepherd’s smarter alternative

The reason why most customers agree becomes very evident when the consequences of pushing ahead with customisations become clearer: the burden of that code, post release, would fall on the customer. The costs of maintenance, fixes and ongoing compatibility with changes in Shepherd or NetSuite would also fall on the customer. Put in those terms, you can see how it would have to be a very special and specific bit of code to warrant that commitment and expense.

Foregoing a fully-fledged customisation and, instead, having Shepherd adopt it also has further advantages a customer may benefit from. By including that new functionality into the Shepherd product portfolio, or generally-accessible solutions, other existing and future customers will also enjoy the benefits of what that customer’s request brings to the table.

You may wonder what the point is in helping other companies who have nothing to do with you. A fair question until we realize that all those other customers may themselves see potential in that new functionality and, in turn, request alterations or extensions to the scope of that new functionality. This maturation through use and exposure may give rise to features the initial customer had not thought of, yet they stand to benefit from. 

Popular features born from individual requests

And so the cycle of making a change available to all customers and letting their experiences and their needs shape and evolve that functionality continues. In practical terms Shepherd has seen this take place: one such feature was “manual time and material billing”. 

Although automation is a strength of Shepherd’s solution, the ability to manually override data along the information path can be very useful when you find out there was a mistake in the initial data entry, which is easy to make when typing with fingers and thumbs in the field. A person in accounting has the ability to do a manual review of data entries that result in postings. This is particularly useful when data entry mistakes occur in the field, such as work reports on the mobile application. Indeed this feature has become one of Shepherd’s most requested.

Another example of a requested function that has made it to mainstream use is the ability to return an item to inventory after refurbishment. This would mean that assets that were rented or leased would need to be refurbished before again being something they can offer customers. That refurbishment constitutes a cost.

Shepherd’s solution to this now means that this cost can be added to the asset’s history when it is returned to inventory, ensuring those costs are not forgotten, but instead kept in the asset’s history to help give the clearest overview of its profitability over its lifetime. Without that, including refurbishment costs is far trickier and more prone to mistakes.

A customer service commitment

Although the practice of avoiding custom code is neither new, nor Shepherd’s original idea, it seems that Shepherd is a rare beast in applying it. During implementations, custom code is exceedingly common: almost the norm, in fact. This suggests that most service providers are not taking on the responsibility of code unless they have to and are only too happy to create custom code that then becomes a cost burden to their customer. Ultimately, whether in a minority or even unique in its attitude to this, Shepherd has no plans to alter this aspect of its customer satisfaction focus.

Some of Shepherd’s customers have come to Shepherd with a rebuilt service processes, or service applications based on custom script and custom work-arounds. This is a sure sign that previous providers had over-charged and under-delivered in terms of service and quality for their customer.

Most situations are a compromise and a balance of good and bad. In this situation, Shepherd has chosen not to compromise. The sole advantage to Shepherd operations is that there is just the core product to administer, rather than different custom code amongst its customers, but even this does not change a simple fact: the practice of “no custom code” comes at a cost to Shepherd. But that has not dissuaded Shepherd from continuing this practice since the benefits to the customer are simply too great to ignore.

To summarize those customer gains, Shepherd’s policy means that anyone who becomes a Shepherd customer will stand to benefit from the experience, needs and imagination of all the other companies serviced by Shepherd.  The ideas of one will be added to the solution where others can use it and they, themselves, suggest improvements to be shared again.

Why pay for a service that you are then responsible for and where its development is limited to what you can see: better to talk to Shepherd and let them deliver the service you want with fewer limitations. Talk to a sales manager today.

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