Regarding E-Commerce projects
So for e-commerce projects, agencies who offer fixed bid arrangements with clients for e-commerce plans have something in common – the warranty period. We have been doing some thinking about what an incredible opportunity warranty periods are — and with that opportunity comes critical risk as well.
As with just about any other project, the final stages of a project are often the most daunting. 95% of the site is done. It looks great! The only thing left is some nitty-gritty details. We climb through the final details and launch the site – champagne for everyone!
And then comes the warranty period. That period of time when the site feels finished, we are on to the next exciting project kick-off and the site feels finished, but we need to bring those final bugs and details to completion.
E-commerce projects from the merchant’s perspective:
They are weary too! Projects like these take a lot out of everyone involved! Their new site comes with significant efficiencies to their former system, so they are getting into the groove and getting more done. But there are always some nagging issues to clean up during the warranty period. These issues end up being a major concern for a client if they are feeling uncertain about whether their agency will get to them prior to the warranty period end.
It’s in this context that there are incredible opportunities and significant risks for the agency-merchant relationship.
This is the back door of any agency – the last impression while the merchant decides if they will continue to work with the agency. They are on high alert – they want to make sure they have a solid, complete project before they close out this stage of the relationship.
From the agency perspective, how the QA and warranty period are handled is critical for these reasons:
- Client referrals – We want our clients to rave about us for e-commerce projects! The cost of finding new clients in the eCommerce space is relatively high.
- Client references – If a client is treated well in the last month of the project, they are far more likely to be willing to have conversations with prospective clients, a necessity for a successful sales process.
- Continuing client relationships equals more revenue from a client. If the client goes out the back door because of a bad warranty experience, what an incredible shame.
- Personal pride – agencies and clients partner for the success of both entities! Both entities should benefit greatly from the partnership.
For these reasons, the warranty period is TWICE as critical as any other part of the project. What this does mean:
- Fast response times
- Careful attention to details to make sure we aren’t putting all the after-project QA on the client.
- Attention to the emotional state of client — are they happy, or do you sense some apprehension or frustration? If you can sense negative attitudes at this point — quickly direct it to the project managers, and even to the executive team. Launches and warranty periods should be taken VERY seriously!
- Careful attention to timeline promises — deliver when you promise. Just because the new project we are working with is paying the bills now, doesn’t mean that the warranty client is of lesser priority.
What this doesn’t mean:
- Adding on new unapproved features because the client wishes it so
- Getting sloppy and making changes directly in the production environment. Changes like that should RARELY happen, and never without an executive approval process that includes focused attention by a senior development resource.
Merchants who work with agencies for their e-commerce projects put a lot of trust in their abilities. We have a lot of power to do them good or harm, which is something we all must take very seriously. While we have the lives of our families and employees to look after, the merchant is in the same place. A win for an agency should come from a win for the merchant, and vice versa.