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.
To illustrate how important client service is to a company, I’ll use three personal examples. In your IT manager role it is important to understand the value of client service and what it can do for your IT organization. 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 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 we place a high value on our clients.
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 what the status of the situation was 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 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 IT organization or for your company. 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.