The focus on customer relations is set to intensify with the new Community Account Management. We spoke to Christoph Witzig, who is in charge of strategic relationships and partnerships, and Tania Stephan, head of Community Account Management and Procurement, about how SWITCH is tackling this project from a strategic and practical perspective.
Christoph Witzig: In the past, SWITCH often discussed strategic issues with its customers at the same time as operative issues. But these are two very different topics: in terms of strategics, it’s a case of getting an idea of the universities’ IT and digitalisation strategies in order to meet their requirements in a more targeted manner and to design and develop our portfolio accordingly over the years. But it’s also about broadening perceptions of SWITCH.
Christoph Witzig: We want SWITCH to be seen as a tool that is used by the ERI community to achieve their digitalisation and IT objectives. Here’s an example: When a research consortium is planning a major research project with a wide range of IT requirements, we want to be speaking to the consortium right from the planning phase so that we can jointly determine whether SWITCH can help with this project and, if so, in what way. It’s always a shame when you only notice missed opportunities in hindsight.
Christoph Witzig: With strategic issues, it’s ultimately a case of where the universities and SWITCH want to be in three to five years’ time. One part of SWITCH’s new strategy is identifying comprehensive solutions that extend beyond the services that are now offered separately and run independently. As a tangible first step, I therefore want to learn more about the strategies and priorities of the IT services and the universities beyond their day-to-day operations. Specifically, I’ll be asking the IT managers about their main objectives for the next three to five years, the areas where they see the most potential for SWITCH services and which new services from third-party providers they would like to use. The responses will give us an initial picture that we can then use to work out how to proceed.
Christoph Witzig: In the future, I’ll be working solely at a strategic level. The new Community Account Management Team will be available to deal with any questions or requirements that arise as part of day-to-day operations. I will of course remain in contact with the IT managers, but just with a focus on the long-term strategic goals of their institutions. And I will also be talking to other stakeholders in the ERI community about strategic issues in order to get the full picture. After all, digitalisation affects the entire ERI community.
Tania Stephan: We want to put more focus on our customers and to improve the support that we offer universities. We’re not just talking about IT services here; we’re taking a whole-organisation approach. We want to have a better understanding of their needs and requirements so that we can make sure that they are reflected not only in our services but also in our negotiations with commercial providers. That’s why the Community Account Management Team works hand in hand with the Procurement Team. We see ourselves as providing community solutions, as both teams are in close contact with customers, which proves mutually advantageous.
Tania Stephan: I’ll try to explain it like this: the Community Account Management Team is the new reception area for SWITCH. If I have a question but don’t know exactly who to contact, I’d go to the concierge, i.e. to us, and we can point you in the right direction in all languages. That’s the thinking behind the new email address email@example.com, as in: Hello, I have a question, who can help?
Tania Stephan: There are no changes to this long-standing collaboration; there’s just an additional service. Existing contact between the technical employees on both sides will continue as usual. The only difference will be that if customers need additional support, the Community Account Management Team will now be on hand to help and advise. For example, they might sometimes need someone to coordinate activities or help with workshops. This is something we would help them with. And you can also come to us if you have any questions about new services or invoices.
The new Account Management Team
Diego Tres (German-speaking Switzerland) and Laurent Combe (Western Switzerland and Ticino) are available to help with your questions in their roles as Community Account Managers. You can reach the team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.