Customer Service in IT

By | 2012/10/04

This week is customer service week. Other departments in my organization did fun things and I realized (too late) that IT should have joined the fun, because we should be as focused on customer service as the rest of the company.

I was privileged to hear motivational speaker James Lloyd at the 2nd annual DSS Tech forum this week.  His topic was customer service and he made several very excellent points.

First, if you are ONLY meeting customer expectations (and doing nothing more), your grade is a C. Customers want to work with people, departments, and firms who provide A or B level service.

Here is the report card grading:

B=exceeds expectations
C=meets expectations
D=Annoyed or upset
F=Annoyed, but has no choice (victimized)

Customer Loyalty occurs at levels A & B, but not at level C. If we’re only meeting expectations, the customer is loyal ONLY until a better deal comes along.

The difference between D and F is also important – specifically for IT departments. With a grade of D, the customer is annoyed, but can go somewhere else. A restaurant is a good example of this. If you have awful service at a restaurant, you can eat elsewhere.

But with most IT departments, employees have no other option – they can’t go elsewhere. When IT departments annoy or upset their customers, they get an F because the customer feels victimized. They can’t go somewhere else.

The next important point made by James Lloyd is why customers leave. The #1 reason is this: they were turned away by an attitude of indifference on the part of an associate or company. This reason represents 68% of responses! The next highest category is “dissatisfied with product” at 14%.

Think about this – more than half of customer dissatisfaction comes from an attitude of indifference. Not rudeness. Not anger. Not bad product.

And it only takes one person (indifference on the part of an associate). This means one single person can ruin the reputation of the entire IT department, simply by not caring enough.

So, what should IT members do to ensure we portray an image of caring customer service?

1. CARE: The problem being presented may not seem like a big deal to you or I, but for the person with the problem it may be HUGE. Sympathize.

2. FOCUS: Even if you have 10 other tasks swirling around on your desk, give the person in front of you the focus they deserve. A concept from martial arts is especially helpful here — it’s called kime, or tightening the mind. Give 100% attention to the task (in this case person) in front of you.

3. COMMUNICATE (overdo it if necessary): If the matter is urgent to the other person and it will take some time for you to complete, follow up throughout the day with updates. Even if progress isn’t being made as quickly as the customer would like, he/she will be happy to know you haven’t forgotten about the issue.

Think about this: if your company decided to outsource the entire IT department, how will your customers (employees in other departments) feel about it? Ideally, you’d want them to respond with “NO – we need to work with our own IT folks because they do the BEST job!”. That’s the goal I’ll be working toward…



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