I work in IT for last 20 years or so. I remember, DOS 3.1, GEM, Novell 3.x networks and BNC connectors. Of 20 years only 1 (one) year I was customer. All other time I was on vendor’s side.
Large portion of that 20 years I worked for three companies. In each and every of them I have to take care of customers. As most of service providers know, it is quite important that customer is happy. 😉
That’s what I do. Keep customers happy in every possible way. As a vendor it is not simple task. There is almost always discrepancybetween customers expectations of amount of value getting for money and vendor’s will to give for same amount. But every single time they have to make business together. Otherwise there is no deal.
Almost every customer/service provider relationship which includes services got defined Service Level Agreement (SLA) of some kind, Rules of Engagement or something similar where relationship has to be very well described. Otherwise deal is no good for any part in such agreement.
There is one thing most of us hate. Sheer and simple – Please Wait. Years ago almost everyone cursed Microsoft Windows due to sluggish performance. There is no need for that any more. I actually do not remember where was last time I had to wait for something due to computer as a reason. I am writing this on Lenovo Chromebook.
Most of waiting now I can put in two different boxes. First one, totally normal and simple, is waiting for response on mail (or something similar); David Shipley and Will Schwalbe even wrote a book about that (Send, like 10 years ago). At that particular time everyone usually answered mail in a minutes or so. Research in Motion (now Blackberry) manage to build business empire on that fact. Fortunately, that time is behind us. No one really expects to get reply on mail right away. It is normal to get response next day or when other side just find time to answer. People suddenly realized that constant mail checking is no friend of productivity.
Second type of waiting is when I wait for something to happen or some condition to fulfill. For example, quite often I wait for a quote or someone to make decision which can be important for ongoing project or something similar. In operations there are lot of such waiting (I know someone would put it in first type of waiting but that is wrong if I ask me; yes mail can be medium for notify but it is not same).
Few days ago I had an appointment at customer premises. We spoke few times about work we have to, agreed of work scope, timeline and everything (it was a simple task really, nothing complicated) but what happened?
I had to wait. 🙂
For more than hour I had to wait. Customer identified something fishy is going inside their complex system on and decided to solve that right away. As I am not in position to override their decisions I set in their caffe and wait. In the meanwhile I done some work waiting to be done, had a nice coffee and great cookie.
Customer apologized. Of course, all apologies were not really necessary but accepted without any problems or hesitation. There is nothing wrong in such scenario. Someone decided you are not most important thing at particular moment.
Everyone of you dealing with customers know one thing for sure: they always wait for us and we are taking that for granted. They do not have to wait for us, there are someone else who will be quicker and will put customer less in “please wait” position.
As long as your customer knows she or he can put you “on hold” and ask to wait for something more important to be solved and as long this customer will have patience to wait for you – you are in clean and clear relationship. As business relationships should look like.