Tag Archives: it support fundamentals

How much is client service worth?

3 examples of companies that will show how you should never underestimate the value of client service in IT.

Client service is a big and important part of your IT organization’s support. In fact, it may be worth a lot more than you think.

In your IT manager role it is important to understand the value of client service and what it can do for your IT organization.

To illustrate how important client service is to a company, I’ll use three personal examples. These three company examples will give you a sample of just how important it is with companies that understand the value of client service.

Example 1: IBM

I worked for IBM way back in the “mini-computer” days when small and medium companies were buying their first computer. It was an exciting time that included lots of fun as well as hard work.

What I initially thought was that IBM’s revenue came mainly from new client sales. I was wrong and quickly learned that about 70 percent of the revenue at that time came from existing customers. This is true in many companies today if you look closely at their revenue makeup.

What this means is that existing clients are very important to a company’s success. So, retaining clients and maximizing the sales potential from existing clients is going to be a strong focus.

IBM placed a huge emphasis on client retention. The way they did this was to build incentives into their sales plan for marketing reps. If a company left IBM and went to a competitor, the marketing rep accountable for the client paid IBM back the current commission value of the lost business.

That’s right, you paid IBM back even if you did not sell the business many years earlier.

The message was simple: IBM marketing reps need to be on top of the client satisfaction of their assigned clients. Future business is dependent upon it so IBM places a high value on their existing clients.

I can assure you that the risk of losing real dollars creates real incentive.

Example 2: Infiniti

I have owned five Infiniti automobiles and still drive one today. A major reason is due to a client service experience I had with my first Infiniti car in 1990.

What happened is that I got in my car one Monday morning to go to work and the car wouldn’t start. The reason I learned later was because I had accidentally left the car door ajar over the weekend and the battery was dead.

I went to work in my wife’s car and asked her to call the Infiniti dealership to see about getting the car checked out. At this point we were not sure what the problem was although we suspected it was simply a dead battery.

To make a long story short, Infiniti received the “support call” and took care of the situation.

While they were doing all of this, they called my wife six times to keep her updated on their progress and the status of the car. Here is how it went:

  • Infiniti receives the support call.
  • Infiniti calls owner, “A technician is on his way and will be there in approximately 30 minutes.”
  • Infiniti technician arrives, charges the battery and transports the car to the dealership to inspect it more fully to insure there were no additional issues.
  • Infiniti calls owner, “Your automobile has arrived; we are checking it out and will call back once we know what the issue is.”
  • Infiniti calls owner, “We have inspected your automobile; the problem was a dead battery. We are charging it fully and will call you once the repair is completed.”
  • Infiniti calls owner, “Your automobile is repaired and should be returned in approximately 30 minutes.”
  • Automobile is returned.
  • Infiniti calls owner, “Calling to confirm you have received your automobile in good working order.”
  • Infiniti calls owner, “How did we do in taking care of your problem?”

By this time, my wife is saying, “Enough already!”, but she was also very happy.

Here is the key point and something IT managers should think about when supporting their clients. Infiniti communicated often to keep their customer aware and in the loop. My wife never had to guess about the status of the situation and this creates a “peace of mind” that is valuable.

It set the tone for me purchasing more automobiles from this dealership.

Example 3: 4imprint

Recently I ordered 50 personalized journals for a class reunion we were having from 4imprint, a company I had ordered similar journals from before.

The journals arrived in three boxes. We opened the smaller of the three boxes to inspect the journals and were very happy with them. All is good, or so we thought.

Fast forward a month later and it is Thursday around noon only two days before the big reunion. At the last minute I decide to put an ink pen in the journal loops. I assigned this important task to my wife and she starts adding a pen to each journal.

Then I hear those terrible words, “Mike, we have a problem!”

The ten journals in the small box we had inspected were perfect, just what we ordered. But the two large boxes had some other company’s journals which were completely different from ours.

It was our fault for not checking all of the boxes when we received them, but we still have a problem. I’m thinking we will probably not be able to give our classmates a journal at the reunion. Instead, I’m preparing to hold one up and tell them, “This is what your journal will look like.”

I call 4imprint and get routed to one of their client service reps. I explain the problem, she asks me a few questions, and then she tells me she is going to contact their production facility to determine what options we have. She also says she will call me back as soon as she talks to the production people.

The end result was that we received the replacement journals within 24 hours of my call, unbelievable client service. The other thing that impressed me was how well the client service rep communicated the status of our situation; I was never left in the dark.

I was so impressed that I sent the president of the company a nice note and told him how happy I was with their products and client service. I will order more from this company in the future.

What does this all mean?

Great client service creates advocates for your company, , , or for your IT organization. These advocates buy more products and services from you or they become partners and support agents for you and your team.

Plus, and this may be the biggest benefit, they tell others about their positive experience.

Great client service adds tremendous value to your company or to your IT organization. The bottom line is that client service is important and providing excellent client service reaps big benefits.

And what do you think is the key component to delivering great client service?

You bet, , , it is communicating well. That’s the trick.

So, you want to take full advantage of creating great client service by communicating and following-up well. It pays real dividends.

Coach employees the fundamentals of IT support

Excellent client service does not happen on its own. It happens because IT managers create the proper environment and teach their IT employees what is required to deliver effective client service.

 

A big part of a manager’s job is teaching and coaching. It doesn’t matter if you are on a sports team or in a professional IT support environment.

 

Good managers coach and reinforce the fundamentals of what it takes to be successful. They teach at the individual level to help each employee succeed. When individuals succeed collectively, the team succeeds.

 

What are IT support fundamentals?

Well, my list is pretty simple as you might expect. They include the following:

 

1.  Follow-up  –  This is one of the most important of all traits we need. Simply put, when something is committed to a client, our staff needs to follow-up and close out their promise. In other words, “Do what you say you will do.”

 

2.  Communicate effectively  –   IT people tend to lack good communication skills. It’s important for you to coach your employees on what and how to communicate with our clients, senior management, and each other.

 

3.  Project management  –  Delivering  projects successfully is how IT organizations achieve credibility. You may need to teach your employees how to work on projects or how to manage them. In fact, you may need to create a project management culture if it does not exist.

 

4.  Quality  –  We want our employees to do the job right and to do their tasks completely, , , high quality. Finish the job and do the work once by doing it right.

 

5.  Productivity  –  At the end of the day, how much an employee accomplishes is as important as how well they do something. Time management is essential and is a great coaching opportunity.

 

6.  Professional conduct  –  “Dress for success!”, they say. Coach employees how to conduct themselves at work and understanding the importance of looking professionally is very important for IT success.

 

7.  Being on time  –  Seems like a small point but it’s a major issue. Being on time for meetings, completing tasks and other commitments on time says a lot about you as an individual and an IT organization.

 

8.  Be conservative  –  When making a commitment, be conservative so you can “over deliver”. No one gets upset if we complete the work earlier or less costly than expected.

 

9.  Teamwork  –  Whether working with a client or with other IT employees, we are all on the same team. Respect for one another and working together as a team is an absolute requirement to achieve success.

 

10.  Positive attitude  –  People who have positive “can do” attitudes achieve higher levels of success than those who do not. IT managers must not only coach this but they need to lead by example and become the IT organization’s best cheerleader.

 

Don’t assume your employees understand all of these fundamentals.

 

Professional sports team coaches constantly teach and reinforce the fundamentals of a player’s position with them, , , and these guys have been playing the sport for years.

 

What you see consistently is that teams who execute the fundamentals of their sport the best are the winners.

 

Instill the fundamentals of IT support within each of your IT employees and your IT organization will achieve many successes.