When you think of
white-glove service, what comes to mind? Often, we think of service that goes above and beyond, where special care or attention to detail is the highest priority. For one of my clients, a “white-glove” approach to dealing with their channel partners was a way to increase satisfaction while decreasing costs for auditing marketing development fund (MDF) claims.
Often, the measurement of success of an MDF program is ensuring that your partners utilize their funds in a timely manner and in a way that aligns to your business needs. From a partner’s perspective, they are asking,
is the program simple? and
how easily can I get reimbursed for the activities I executed? This particular client sought to simplify and streamline their MDF program over the past few years, but found their partners were still struggling to get claims and supporting proof of execution (POE) submitted without multiple audits. This scenario highlighted the demand for a
white-glove pilot program.
The client hoped to enhance their partner experience by introducing a high-touch,
white-glove pilot initiative to strategic partners within their global program. The intent of the pilot would focus on the support and education for partner payments and claims by addressing, in real time, any questions or challenges they had regarding the functionality of our channel incentives solution (channelConduit Suite).
The pilot included 20 partners within 11 countries worldwide over the course of 3 months, from September to November 2018. Each partner was assigned a Vistex personal support resource who provided one-on-one consultation and individualized, on-demand training sessions. The personal support resource was responsible for reviewing partner claims, tickets, and payments daily. This approach enabled us to focus on two critical obstacles impacting partners: one-on-one training for new partners and attention to detail for those struggling with longer turnaround times.
We knew from the start that communication across all levels of the partner support matrix would be critical to guaranteeing pilot success. We set clear expectations with partners and account managers that regular communication would be a key element for the program. Account manager participation was instrumental to each partner’s success during the pilot, because they understood the partner’s business and had the direct responsibility of helping the partners submit their POE correctly. Partners who proved most successful during the pilot program were those who attended calls on a regular basis and had heavy account manager involvement. Ensuring partners had a forum to ask questions and uncovering insights into their inquiries was also imperative for the pilot tiger team.
The Results: Partner Satisfaction Increased, and Claim Auditing Costs Decreased
The results were undeniable; when comparing pilot partners to global partners outside of the pilot, the global partners had 80 percent of their claims audited multiple times as opposed to pilot partners who had only 35 percent of their claims audited multiple times. In reviewing the metrics, we saw a significant drop in audit per claim ratio from 2.0 to 1.4 for pilot partners and a 39 percent decrease in special pricing agreements (SPAs).
The pilot has evolved into a special program and has expanded to support 30-35 partners per quarter. As partners better understand the channelConduit platform and show improvement towards lower claim audit ratios, they
graduate, allowing space for other partners who need the heightened service. While the premise of providing one-on-one support to produce results may not be groundbreaking, the magic lies in working in concert with your client to understand their partners pain points and to recommend solutions to ensure partner sustainability.