Tech Manager—Customer Satisfaction
Ask someone what good customer service is and you will get a wide swath of definitions including many things that make for a satisfied customer. Good customer service equals customer satisfaction. The lists would vary based on subject of the service, but most would include some of the same things that everyone expects to get out of assistance efforts. Rather than try to define exactly what good customer service might be needed to get to customer satisfaction, I want to focus on getting you to think about bad customer service and when you might not be providing what is needed for your “customers” to be satisfied.
But first, who is my customer? I like to tell people that everyone is my customer. Everyone who uses technology is my customer. Every person at my firm. From the top to the bottom. From the CEO to the new hire straight out of school. From the Project Manager to the person picking up the design prints. From the Architect to the builder. From the Designer to the manufacturer. They are all my customers at some level. Everyone uses technology and I can help them all. They all deserve my best and I should be delivering that, every day.
So, if everyone is my customer, who defines customer satisfaction? They all do. Each one individually has a definition of satisfaction. And my goal should be to get as close to delivering on that expectation as I can. Some expectations are too lofty and might need some adjustment, but most people have a reasonable expectation of service and technology dependability. They just want things to work and keep working. They just want you and the tools to do what you and the tools are supposed to do. They want technology to be an enabler and not an annoyance. They want you to be there when they need you, keep things running, fix them when they fail or give them a workaround. Sounds so easy – right?
How do you satisfy everyone? Can you even do that? Everyone knows when they get lousy customer service. You can read reviews of restaurants or products online and see a bunch of bad product or service complaints. Support that does not deliver. Products that don’t meet expectations. Wait staff that seems to be gone every time they are needed. People may not be able to articulate specifically what they are looking for to make them happy, but they sure know what makes them unhappy.
You can’t keep everything running all the time. You cannot make everyone use all the tools the right way all the time. You cannot fix everything with the wave of a wand (that would be nice). All you can do is try to be consistent and deliver what is needed, when it is needed. You may be stretched to the limit, understaffed, overworked and tired… but so are your customers. People just want someone to help them. They want to get back to work.
Here is what I ask myself… If I received the same level of customer service that I provided to someone else, would I be satisfied? This is a good way to put yourself in other people’s shoes and make you think. It lets you see what other see. It allows you to look in the mirror as if you were the customer. And it challenges you to improve.
What do you expect from others and what do you give them? Do they match? Can you exceed what other expect? When I go into a store and cannot find what I am looking for, I ask a store worker where the item is located. They tell me where to look. They tell me what aisle it is on and where to look on that isle. The may even tell me if it is not there, to look in another location one isle over. That is helpful. They told me where to look. That is good customer service. But if they offer to show me where it is located and escort me to the aisle where it is located and then point right to it, that is great customer service.
They showed me how to get there, went along with me and pointed me to the product. Happy customer.
So how do you achieve customer satisfaction with technology? We will cover it in depth in the future, but for now you deliver more than is expected. You respond quicker, you fix things faster, you tell them what went wrong and how to avoid it in the future and you circle back after a while and make sure it is still working.
Why do you want happy customers? No one wants unhappy customers. But you also don’t want apathetic customers. You are not striving for, “Good enough,” you want them to be happy. Happy customers become repeat customers. They come back to you with other issues and don’t have to figure it out themselves. They learn directly from you and not by guessing at answers. They tell others about your help and recommend that they come to you also. It is just like good retail or product delivery. It increases the value of your product (which is support), reduces undetected issues (like complaints that are not brought directly to you), and defines your brand (as being there for people).
When you are providing support to your staff, team, office and firm, they have expectations. Each person may expect something slightly different. Some may want you to take on the entire trouble and let them work on something else. Others might want you to tell them a list of steps so they can fix it themselves. Some may just need to be pointed in the right direction or given another option for a fix. You can provide superior customer service by going the extra mile. By doing for them what you would want done for you.
It may sound like an old cliché, but it still applies… treat others the way you want to be treated.