How to Build a Totally Kickass Partnership Program
The team at Winworks auto shop management software was not looking for a new credit card partner. They had already invested significant time and energy into integrating with one processor, and while things weren’t perfect they were good enough. So when Marketing Manager Luke Folsom was approached by Steve Ciabattoni and Jesse Meddaugh from 360 Payments, he was pleasantly surprised.
“Jesse and Steve approached us like friends and not salespeople and impressed us with the way they genuinely wanted to learn everything they could about our business, product, and users,” he says. “It was clear from day one that they truly value the relationships they have with their partners and don’t just see them as a means to an end.”
Fast forward a few months, and Winworks is one of 360 Payments’ best partners and strongest advocates. “They really convinced us that they exist to make it easier for businesses to accept credit card transactions, a pain point that many of out customers had shared with us wasn’t being resolved with our old partner. They involved us significantly in the development of the integration and made extensive customizations to meet the needs of our customers. They were willing to craft a solution that was specific to our software and our team, and that meant a lot to us. They proved they are really invested in our success.”
Steve Ciabattoni, co-CEO of 360 Payments, agrees: “The last thing we want to do is not listen to our partners. We don’t have a one size fits all solution that we force on everyone but rather work with each individual partner to find what will work best for them. We pride ourselves on soliciting feedback early and often and then actually acting on that feedback. We want candid communication from our partners on how we can better serve them as it lets us build better and better solutions that benefit both sides.”
Strengthening the Bond
The most critical aspect of any business partnership is communication, and 360 Payments and Winworks have worked hard to make sure theirs is as open and transparent as possible. Dedicated 360 Payments sales reps have been assigned to the Winworks partnership and have become experts on the software and the customers that use it. A Slack channel serves as home base for both teams to share questions and new information and stay up to date on installations, technical issues, and more. A Google Doc tracks every Winworks customer throughout the installation process so both teams can immediately respond to problems if they arise. Plus, the 360 Payments marketing team created a landing page and press release specifically for the partnership to streamline the signup process.
For their part, Winworks has been enthusiastically involved with all parts of the process. “We offer these kinds of collaboration tools to all of our partners, and Winworks has been one of the few that has really taken us up on all of it,” says Ciabattoni.
“The result is that Luke feels like part of the 360 team.
We can always reach him via Slack if we have a question, and he knows he can do the same. We regularly trade feedback on how things are going and make changes as necessary, and the Winworks team even created a demo video to show their customers how our integration works. It’s a great give-and-take that to us really symbolizes what a partnership can and should be.”
A Shared Vision
To really build products that partners want, companies have to be willing to compromise and redesign their offerings to meet the needs of their audience. It requires total immersion in the partner’s industry and day-to-day business practices, something that Steve and Jesse took very seriously.
“Although we’ve worked with other partners in the automotive space previously and had a general understanding of the industry, we threw all that out the window and started from scratch to see just how Winworks views the space and is impacting it,” says Ciabattoni.
“We listed and asked questions about not only the current version of the software but also future builds and showed that we plan to be part of the Winworks story for a very long time.”
Acting on Feedback
One of the most frustrating aspects of communicating with a team outside of one’s own organization is feeling like feedback or concerns go nowhere. Both Winworks and 360 Payments have worked hard to create a culture of openness where feedback isn’t just heard but actually considered and acted upon.
“When I tell the 360 team that something isn’t working, I’m confident that I’m going to get a real conversation with someone about where the disconnect is and how we can fix it together,” says Folsom. “I never get a form email or a brush-off. These guys really care about what we think and how the product is working for us.”
Ciabattoni even has a plan for the feedback that doesn’t or can’t be implemented right away. “We always want to explain why things can’t be done a certain way or why a fix isn’t possible at this time. We never want Luke to think that we’re not being truthful with him or ignoring his concerns. If we can’t take action, we want him to know why so he continues to trust us.”
A Little TLC Goes a Long Way
There’s very little that can kill a partnership faster than failing to respond quickly and thoroughly to customer concerns. “360 Payments does a truly exceptional job of taking care of our customers,” says Folsom. “If a customer can’t process credit cards and is trying to close out a big service order, that’s a serious problem that requires an immediate fix. We appreciate that a real human being always answers the phone at 360, without forcing a busy or stressed customer to listen to recorded menu after recorded menu.
Issues are resolved quickly and professionally by a knowledgeable team, and because of that we have no problem telling customers to call 360 Payments directly if something isn’t working properly. We know they’ll be taken care of.”
“We take customer service very seriously at 360 Payments,” said Ciabattoni. “When a customer calls in with a question or problem, it’s not just another ticket in the system to us. We know that every call represents a person, a business, and a livelihood, and we treat each call like it’s the most important one we’ll get all day, because to that business owner it is.”
Building Processes for Growth
The skeptics reading this article are convinced that this level of close collaboration can’t continue as the partnership continues to grow. As more and more customers continue to use the integration, eventually Winworks and 360 Payments will have to change their business practices, right? Ciabattoni says that’s not an option. “While we may have to change the processes through which we communicate and create some new ones, one thing we will never compromise on is our commitment to building outstanding relationships,” he says. “This applies to our partners and to the customers they entrust to us.”
Folsom agrees. “We wouldn’t have invested so heavily in 360 Payments if we didn’t know they’d be there for as we both grow. We’re confident that together we can handle any growing pains that might be associated with scaling our businesses and use them to create even better experiences for our customers,” he says.
“We expect to see incredible returns from this partnership in 2018 and are putting a lot of resources into making that happen,” says Folsom.
“We know this partnership will be successful this year and beyond, in no small part thanks to the efforts Luke and his team have put forth,” says Ciabattoni. “Partnerships are a two-way street, and everything we’re doing works ten times better because Winworks participates and pushes us. The Winworks team is just an extension of ours, and that’s exactly how it should be.”
Want to Learn More?
If you’re looking for a credit card processing partner that’s ready to put in the hard work to make your business successful, 360 Payments would love to talk to you. Give Steve or Jesse a call at 1-855-360-0360 or visit their website. If you’re shopping for a new software solution for your auto repair business, look no further than Winworks. You can reach them at 1-800-WINWORKS or on their website.