Better said, excellent client service is a culture, not a project. You may initiate specific projects or install a process to improve the levels of client service you provide, but organizations that live and breathe doing the things that improves client relations truly stand out from the crowd.
I’ve said many times that it all starts with the IT Manager. When you “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” and demonstrate you understand what’s important in helping your technology clients, it carries throughout your IT Organization.
Not only that, it spreads to other organizations in the company and even to external clients if you have them.
What’s nice is that great client service does spread out to those you touch. The flip side is that poor client service does the same thing and with significantly more adverse impact.
What’s the old saying? “Make a client angry and he or she tells at least 20 other people!”
Well, it certainly holds true in the IT world.
You never achieve great relations with your client unless you are making proactive efforts to help them achieve their objectives. That’s actually what client service is all about: helping others do their job as productively and painlessly as possible.
OK, so how do we begin?
First, determine what it takes to be considered a “world class” client service organization in your company.
To do this, you have to go ask those who you support. Organizations that rely on technology support are interested in the following key areas:
- Focus on their priorities
- Anticipate their needs
- Be responsive to their requests
- Communicate and keep them “out of the dark”
- Provide high systems “uptime” and availability
- Be cost effective
- Fix their problem and fix it right the first time
I’m sure none of this is a surprise. Take these “wants” and formulate your own questions to determine if you are providing support services that address these needs.
The answers will lead you to issues that define where you need to focus energy to improve client service. For example, if your clients are telling you that you aren’t working on their priorities, find out what the priorities are and refocus your organization’s efforts.
Likewise, implement processes that help you become a more responsive support organization if you hear things like, “We never know the status of our projects.” or one of my favorites, “It’s like sending a request to a ‘black hole’.”
It’s really not hard, but it takes a conscientious effort to understand what your customer needs and how well you are doing in meeting those needs. Once you know, it’s a matter of doing things that address specific needs.
Create a targeted “client service project initiative” and watch the relationships improve. Don’t try to do this alone. It helps when you have other department managers involved in your crusade and they like the fact you are doing this to help them.
The result can be a big “win-win” for everyone involved.