Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Customers - Are they always right?

So you finally get a chance to look at your customer surveys. Disappointingly after all the coaching and training and process around your service desk, your customers are still complaining.

What's the deal? you say to yourself. "I thought if we put this Service Management process stuff in place customers would be happy, at least that is what Matt told me. Last time I listen to that idiot."

While not taking my advice is many times a good thing, it's not that the processes did not work, its that the implementation was not taking into the most important aspect of Service Management. It's Customer Service Management, not Process Service Management. That means that you have to take into consideration the customer's unique circumstances.

So while Customers are not always "Right", they can be made to feel like they are getting the service they are paying for, by listening to them and acknowledging their intelligence and frustration.

Too many groups are putting in Incident and Request models that are purely focused on the work flow, not the communication. The customers request or incident needs to be resolved, yes, but they also need to feel like they are getting attention individually. Let me share an example with you.

Recently I purchased a VHS to DVD copier. Upon making my 3rd or 4th copy successfully the device stopped reading the VHS tapes. It was snowy on the screen but with clear voice. I called tech support, where upon the technician following his trouble-shooting steps told me that I needed to plug in the "Yellow" jack from the back of the device to my television.

I explained that I was using the Component cables which were Red, Blue and Green and that my TV did not have a "Yellow" Jack to plug into. The technician insisted that the device could not work unless the "Yellow" jack was plugged in. Mind you I had told him several times that I had successfully made copies, and that nothing had changed with my physical connections. Needless to say a horrible experience, and I ended up returning a product that is probably fine because of someone not listening to the customer.

In a different call to my Internet provider Comcast, I had completely the opposite outcome. After troubleshooting why my connection was not working, I finally called Comcast. Now I know it's been a while since I've got my hands dirty with technology, but I still feel pretty comfortable troubleshooting network issues. Upon plugging my laptop directly into the Cable Modem, I realized that the problem was with their Cable Modem. So I called the Comcast tech support. I explained my situation and the steps I had taken. The Comcast rep told me "Can I put you on hold one moment, you clearly have taken some steps to isolate this and let me see if I can pick up where you left off." Literally within 2 minutes the router was up and running and my Internet was back up. He apologized for the inconvenience and then explained to me that they would add my device to their monitoring solution so that they would be notified again should this happen.

Now that is Customer Service.

Next on my hit list of topics: The mother of all Metrics "Service Outage Avoidance" - how this one set of metrics can be the key to your next raise.

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