IRIS chiefs tackle customer support issues

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Senior IRIS Group executives this month responded to the customer support issues that were recently debated by users on AccountingWEB.co.uk. John Stokdyk reports.

Until 2006 - around the time that IRIS received backing from US private equity group Hellman & Freedman and embarked on a series of acquisitions - the company's tax and practice wing fielded more than 95% of support queries by telephone. In the subsequent years, email queries and direct customer access to the IRIS Knowledgebase on the web have both expanded rapidly, noted new IRIS Accountancy Practice Solutions managing director Phil Robinson.

According to customers who include ICAEW Tax Faculty chairman Paul Aplin, one of the IRIS's strengths is the direct relationships it enjoys with its users.

"Although IRIS has grown as...

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20th Apr 2009 11:21

the 'blame' mentality in Iris
Yet again we have encountered problems with the new software, an Iris engineer came out and eventually managed to resolve the latest one and in doing so appeared to create another! He is vehemently trying to shift the blame and his terse Email was not well received.I am fed up with reporting a problem and being told that no body else has had this one, when I have discussed it with other users!
thankfully the new MD has advised us to send him ALL problem information...he may regret this! Can I suggest that we ALL do this and just maybe things will improve.

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"We're listening..." follow up from IRIS's Phil Robinson
IRIS Accountancy Practice Solutions managing director Phil Robinson has been monitoring the recent conversations on AccountingWEB.co.uk and contacted us to reaffirm his commitment to customer support and giving value for money.

"IRIS takes customer service pretty seriously. On the whole majority of users are happy. Our revenues continue to grow and our customer retention figure exceeds 97%. If people were unhappy, we would see a decline in that figure."

January had been a challenge because of the 38% increase in call volumes relating to the new online forms, but in the consequtive months, the IRIS support teams have exceeded its 2.5min target for handling customer calls. "Would it help if we publshed response times so people could see the speed of response at particular times?" he asked. "That's one thing we are considering."

Having joined the company three months ago, Robinson said it was difficult to respond to issues about "how things used to be". But he reiterated that he was genuinely interested in hearing customers' feedback. He acknolwedged that support call times and retention figures could not provide a full picture of customer satisfaction: "Retention doesn't tell you how people feel."

As a result, IRIS has started to survey customers to around the net promoter measure - the likelihood that they would recommend products to other users. "We'll also be doing it on customer support cases, where we will send an email asking how we did. We will measure satisfaction and net promoter scores against the industry average so we can target intitiatives where we are falling down," he said.

John Stokdyk
Technology editor
AccountingWEB.co.uk

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By jacp400
02nd Apr 2009 20:22

Flawed System
Unfortunately when the primary metric for support is response time and/or time to close a call the temptation is to;

- put no or low skilled people as first line support to improve response times (ie "sub 2.5 minutes")
- close calls when a possible solution is given to the client without waiting to check if the solution is successful.

This is especially relevant in those larger aquisitive businesses where department heads are responsible to group directors, and group directors are sufficiently removed from the front line operation that the metrics are all they have to rely on as a judge of performance.

I have no direct experience of the Iris Practice helpdesk so this isn't specific to them, but I have seen the above in other support operations.

John Clough
www.tmcs.co.uk

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03rd Apr 2009 11:06

to plaigiarise John Major
they may be listening but have they got the message

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03rd Apr 2009 09:27

IRIS losing focus
As with any software supplier, it is easy to believe that IRIS are suffering from a reduction in quality of service as, by and large, only those with issues tend to add comments.

That said, I think IRIS need to take note of the tone of complaints from customers who were previously satisfied. My personal experience is with IRIS Accounts Office - a product developed to encourage clients away from Sage, but without the need to invest in the full blown Exchequer.

This product does not run under MS Vista, and there is no known date for it to be upgraded to do so. When challenged, the response is 'you could use Accounts Office Online' - a product costing considerably more and only of any use when an internet connection is available. This smacks of the online grocery startegy of lemons being an acceptable alternative to bananas because they are both yellow!!

IRIS need to remember that their primary clients are accountants. Alienate them and they will find their revenue streams from other products drying up as the level of recommendations drop off.

I can hear Sage looking up my old contact details already....................

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02nd Apr 2009 09:12

iris support services
Having recently converted to Iris I have been extreemly dissappointed with how inefficient the basic prrocessing is and as for the " market leading demonstrable response time " it has been utterly dreadful. How does anyone make money with this system?


In the last week of jan all i got was an engaged tone for two days and when i finally got through after a 45 minute wait I was passed on for another 45 minute wait to talk to someone.

I send a set of accounts with a problem off last week being lold they could deal with it that day. fine . but a week later nothing.
Utterly unacceptable

Mark m

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By bobhurn
26th Mar 2009 18:27

In support of Iris Support
My experience of Iris support continues to be excellent as it has been for the past 8 years. I tend to use the telephone support less these days as the knowledge base answers the vast majority of queries. On the one or two occasions I have used the email support the response has been quick and helpful.

When compared to other software providers support Iris is very impressive. Investing in iris remains the best decision this practice has made.

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By leeholb
26th Mar 2009 19:54

IRIS - are they the company they once was
I was recently shocked to receive my annual Company Secretary licence. Having been on unlimited number of clients it was capped at 150 clients with no prior warning, in fact the invoice never arrived and my account manager went on long term sick.

We currently have 600 registered clients on company secretarial and that is growing weekly. So to have a capping of 150 clients is not feesible.

However having spoken to my new account handler I was told this was going to be the policy going forward. Shock Horror, have Iris turned into Sage? Have their knowledge that clients are reluctant to change caused them to become greedy. I await to see developments.

Needless to say after serious complaint I was told the licence would be reverted back to unlimited numbers FOR NOW!!!!!!

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25th Mar 2009 17:19

blah blh blah
hot air abounding...

why is the chairman of the tax faculty promoting iris.. ridiculous if was wearing his faculty hat

how do we know that the response times etc given are correct

there are many of us who still remember to our cost the freeway paye debacle - very few people got time cost restitution

i could go on

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A second bite at the debate
I only had a short time at the London press conference with Phil Robinson and Martin Leuw, which meant I wasn't able to put forward all of the points raised by AccountingWEB.co.uk members.

To make sure they get a fair crack at the whip - rather than just quoting snatched comments - I have gone back and asked if either wants to add to their comments.

I'm still waiting to hear back, but will update this page if they do respond.

John Stokdyk
Technology editor
AccountingWEB.co.uk

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