You think you have found a mentorship software that aligns with the needs of your organization, has all the tools and features you were looking for, and perhaps most importantly, meets your budget.
Before pulling the trigger on a solution, there’s a few areas to think about: the implementation process and ongoing customer support and resources.
There are a ton of mentorship software providers out there that, at first glance, appear to offer many of the same features. An unsuccessful implementation could make for a slow and even rocky launch to your mentorship platform. This leads to a poor adoption rate among your community, even if the software itself is high- quality.
Key differentiators are a vendor’s approach to on-boarding their new customers, launching the platform, and managing the relationship post-sale. Some vendors hand over the reins to the customer, leaving implementation up to the user, while others follow implementation methodologies and best practices designed to set users up for long-term engagement and success.
So how do you adequately assess the various implementation methods across all the different (and plentiful) mentorship software companies there are to choose from? How do you identify the providers that have the right level of support you need for success?
Here are four questions to consider when evaluating a mentorship software vendor’s approach to implementation, on-boarding and customer success:
Question 1: Ask the vendor if there is a design approach to mentorship AND ask how they developed it.
Most mentorship programs fail due to low user adoption rates and lack of engagement.
Mentorship programs aren’t a novel idea, and there’s a saying about trying the same thing over and over and getting the same result...
While you may have an existing program structure that you wish to apply to your new mentorship system, the most successful implementations can happen when you don’t simply do what has always been done before, but rather, welcome the opportunity to innovate your existing, and perhaps previously unsuccessful approach.
The vendor you choose should be subject matter experts in the mentorship and engagement space, not just software experts. They should possess the knowledge and expertise to help you leverage the capabilities of your new platform to implement a mentorship program unlike any you’ve had before, with stronger engagement and visible results.
Ask what the vendor provides during the implementation and launch phases to help your organization solve its mentorship challenges, how their approach is different from others, and why it works best.
Vendors that are invested in your success will not only share the details of their design approach with you, but will spend ample time training you on the available tools and features of the software that will help you execute that approach.
Question 2: Ask about their on-boarding process, timeline and key deliverables.
Consistent and thorough communication keeps all parties on the same page about the projected timeline, action items, and intended outcomes. Implementing the software and launching your successful mentorship program will take time, but shouldn’t take too much time. And it will take even more time if your vendor doesn’t help lead the way and set the tone.
While the vendor can’t guarantee that the customer will uphold their end of the project plan, they can provide the roadmap and structure that builds trust and a strong working relationship between the vendor and customer.
Pro Tip: If a vendor promises too many of the features that are important to your program’s success are “not available now, but on their way soon,” it might be a good idea to explore other vendors.
Question 3: Ask about the Customer Success Program
Despite the most thorough documentation and training, it’s inevitable that questions will come up post implementation. Choosing a vendor with a robust library of self-service resources enables your entire team to have thorough, readily available information about the software’s features.
In your evaluation, be sure to gather information about the level and quality of support you will receive from the vendor post-sale and post-implementation of the mentorship platform. Ask for a detailed overview or even a demo of the resources available to customers after implementation of their software. Truly customer-focused vendors will offer multiple support tiers to meet the diverse needs of their customers.
By asking vendors questions about their approach to on-boarding and supporting new customers, you will be able to decide if they can provide you with the expertise and foundation for success to ensure that your mentorship platform doesn’t end up on your shelf of unused or underutilized software.
Question 4: Ask to Speak with Their Current Customers
A vendor should offer or be willing to connect you with (at least) one of their current customers to serve as a reference. With something as impactful as mentorship, it is important to get it right--and the vendor should support you in your decision-making process.
A few questions to consider asking during a customer reference conversation:
What other vendors did the customer consider before choosing this one?
How has the software provided impact to the customer’s organization or mentorship program?
What kind of reporting or strategy support does the vendor provide post-sale? Have they been a good partner for ongoing success and growth of the program?
Not every vendor is right for every mentorship program and a company’s current customers can be great sources of information for everything from the ease of implementation and launch, post-sale customer support, to the overall value of the platform.
Also be sure to read other customer and user reviews on sites like Software Advice and Capterra.
For more tips on how to evaluate and identify the right vendor for you and for best practices on how to create an online mentorship program, check out The Modern Mentoring Network.