We often talk about how we’re not just an IT company, but a service company. We’re as much about relationships as we are about technology. Well, yesterday, one of our vendors surprised us with a basket of “thank you” cookies. And even though half of the office is mindful of their waistlines, the cookies were devoured in short order. (I confess: they were delicious.)
This led me to think about how service desks spend a lot of energy up front trying to make sure customers have a good experience, but how many follow up after an incident to carry on the positive user experience. Here are three simple ideas you can steal to earn a few points with your customers and create a corporate culture that honors their vital role to your business.
Follow Up on Customer Satisfaction Surveys: In the 2011 HDI Support Center Practices & Salary Report, 44.2 percent of respondents conduct satisfaction surveys on a random sampling of closed incidents, and 21.8 percent conduct them on 100 percent of closed incidents. Others conduct monthly, quarterly, or annual surveys. If you receive a negative response, make sure you follow up with the customer immediately. That’s obvious. If you receive a positive response, consider reaching out anyway in a couple of days to make sure everything is still working like it’s supposed to, and see if there’s anything else you can do for the customer. It’s a little bit like getting a personal phone call from your doctor after a visit. Keep in mind that by the time your customers call you, they’re often frustrated. So responding to their emotional needs becomes as important as resolving their problem.
Throw a Party: National Customer Service Week is about a month away (October 1–5, 2012). While this is generally a time to celebrate those who provide great service, it’s also a time to celebrate those who provide us job security — our customers. Celebrate them. You can do something as simple as inviting your customers to stop by your department for afternoon cake and coffee, as elaborate as renting out a movie theater for a private screening, or something in between like sending a cookie bouquet.
Celebrate Your Customers Every Day: One of the things that intrigued me about yesterday’s cookie bouquet was that, unlike most vendors, the sender didn’t wait until the holidays or a big order to show appreciation. It was just an average Thursday in August and a random act of kindness. This unexpected treat in an otherwise unremarkable week is what created impact. Look for small, everyday opportunities to celebrate your frequent callers and your VIPs alike.
Do you have any ideas for nurturing relationships with your customers? We’d love to hear them.