ShoreTel Program Rewards Partners For Satisfied Customers

Partners that achieve the program&'s requirements will earn an additional 2 percent discount, while those that earn sub-par customer satisfaction scores will lose 2 discount points and face possible expulsion from the vendor&'s partner program, said Steve Timmerman, vice president of marketing at ShoreTel, Sunnyvale, Calif.

To qualify for the extra discount, partners must earn a score of 90 or better out of 100 based on third-party customer-satisfaction surveys from at least five clients over the previous 12 months.

For channel partners that earn scores below 75, ShoreTel will shave 2 points off the discount level, Timmerman said. ShoreTel plans to grant those partners a four-month “cure period” during which it will work with them to help raise their customer-satisfaction scores. “If, after that, we have not seen a change in their scores, we may terminate them because we believe strongly that [high customer satisfaction ratings] are key to our partners&' success and ShoreTel&'s success,” Timmerman said.

PlanIT Solutions currently holds a customer-satisfaction rating in the high 80s and is taking steps to ensure that score climbs, said Jim Lewis, president of PlanIt, a Petaluma, Calif.-based ShoreTel partner.

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Lewis has implemented a new bonus structure for the PlanIT employee in charge of ShoreTel project management and training contingent on hitting a score of 90 or more, he said.

As of July, 23 ShoreTel partners carried scores of at least 90. The company has 268 channel partners worldwide.

The channel-only vendor has been laying the groundwork for this new arm of its customer-satisfaction push since last fall, when it began third-party surveys of its partners&' clients to formulate benchmark statistics (CRN, Nov. 1, 2004).

ShoreTel itself is striving to hit the 90-plus mark in its own customer-satisfaction rating. Timmerman said the vendor scored 87.2 in the second quarter, up from 85.6 in the first quarter.

ShoreTel has earned the top customer-satisfaction ranking over IP telephony rivals such as Avaya, Cisco Systems and Nortel Networks for the last two years, according to independent studies by Nemertes Research.