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Don’t Overlook Best-of-Breed Solutions for Customer Service

white computerOne of the funniest words I’ve learned in German is eierlegende wollmilchsau. Roughly translated, it’s a pig that lays eggs, gives milk, and produces wool. If that sounds odd, it’s a phrase used for something that can do it all, but which, of course, doesn’t exist.

While a major platform vendor may seem to offer a do-it-all solution for your organization, that’s about as likely as the magical beast I just described. Whether we’re talking software, sports or the tools in your garage, specific problems require specialized solutions. Aside from duct tape, perhaps, nothing can do everything. Yet, when it comes to the software your organization relies on, your higher ups, your pesky IT department, or your sourcing and procurement people may want one-size-fits-all.

The Volkswagen Group is made of ten brands and does business on six continents in dozens of languages. How confident would you be as an agent to quickly find the answer to an engine issue on any one of those within one minute?

To even begin figuring out the problem, you’d need:

  • Basic customer data about who you’re talking to
  • The customer’s current physical location (more on this later)
  • The car’s make and model
  • Error code from the vehicle
  • The car’s service history to check for previous or existing problems

All that information is going to reside in several tools, your CRM, case management system, and knowledge management system (KMS). You’d not only need to access many different data points across several systems, but you’d have to quickly combine them into a clear and actionable overview. The best CRM vendor on the market doesn’t specialize in ticketing, knowledge management, or CCaaS, nor are their tools necessarily built for customer service.

Why are platform solutions such a tempting mistake to make? Because they are easy for the people who don’t use them daily. For a sourcing manager or someone in IT, the benefits of using Microsoft, Salesforce or ServiceNow for everything are huge. There are fewer systems to learn and maintain, fewer integrations to deal with, fewer vendors to deal with, and pricing discounts by sticking with one vendor.

To be fair, these are all legitimate points and real advantages. The problem is, it’s only true from the perspective of those who don’t rely on the software to do their jobs.

This is why best-of-breed, or the best system or tool for each specific task, may be best for you:

  • You get the best purpose-built software for each specific job.
  • It can future proof your business by not putting all your eggs in one basket.
  • It provides increased flexibility to change individual tools to meet new challenges without having to replace an entire platform.
  • There’s less risk of vendor lock-in.
  • You might save money by not buying platforms or suites with tools you don’t need.
  • Best of breed solutions are more likely to adapt faster to market trends than platform players.

Now, I’m not saying you need to have 10 different tools, either, because that also brings with it additional configuration, setup, integration and training time, and costs. You may go with a platform vendor for multiple solutions, and justifiably so. They make the most sense when the requirement is company-wide, something that is more likely to be one-size-fits-most.

Choose the best individual solutions for your needs, even if they are from a platform vendor, but don’t hesitate to look elsewhere for the rest. Integrations are not just standard nowadays, but a key part of mastering service challenges. And if you’ve learned nothing else from this, you at least know a fun new German word you can impress friends with, but good luck pronouncing it!