Customer Service, the Magic Revealed
by Scott Eastin
Customer service is a competitive advantage for STS. It is woven into our organization beginning when we recruit new hires, to when we come to your office and all the way through to the completion of your project. Perhaps it's better to say that customer service is THE competitive advantage for STS.
I'd like to share with you the four tenants of customer service that we preach inside of our company:
- Be on time. Trust begins for STS by being on time for all of our meetings regardless of the location. We realize how valuable your time is and being on time is the best way to maximize this limited resource.
- Call if you will be late. The reality of doing business in Atlanta and modern life is that there are some circumstances where events beyond our control mean we will be late. When this happpens, we call you to let you know we are running late and give you an estimated arrival time so you can plan accordingly.
- Do what you say you will do. Our goal is to provide you with high quality service at a fair price delivered in a timely manner. When we meet with you and review your systems and applications needs, we strive to understand your business requirements and apply the appropriate technology to solve the task at hand.
- If you can't do what you said you could, be proactive with explanations and solutions. No one likes last minutes project surprises. If there's a significant issue that impacts your timeline, we alert you as soon as we know and have a viable alternative.
The above four tenants may seem like common sense, and most of you have probably implemented one or more in your organization. Your other vendors may do some of these as well. What sets STS apart is that these rules govern our entire organization and our operations.
For example, we tell our employees that the quickest way to succeed at STS is to return client phone calls and emails promptly - even if it's just a note stating we are with another client but we will respond as quickly as we can. We strongly believe that if you are requesting information or assistance from us that we should quickly acknowledge your communication. Since we may travel to a variety of client sites on a given day all of our employees have realtime e-mail access via their BlackBerry to ensure that STS can respond to your needs in a timely manner. A BlackBerry-enabled workforce allows us to be very client focused and it reduces the cycle time for us to respond to you. We have extended several important customer service related applications to the BlackBerry for this very reason, see Darren Duke's BlackBerry Mobile Data Services Article for details.
Conversely, we tell potential recruits that the quickest way to end their career at STS is to not return phone calls, to be consistently late to client sites, or to not respond in a timely manner to e-mails. This is a non-negotiable agreement at STS. The risk posed to our reputation by an employee's poor customer service is simply unacceptable.
After 10+ years in the consulting business I am constantly amazed at the number of IT firms and personnel who fail to deliver great or even decent, customer service and then wonder why customers leave or careers fail. I tell new recruits that the secret to our success is founded on our four customer service principles, which are not rocket science. Our sales team often tells me that we pick up new clients simply because we are the first vendor to call them back. Most IT firms believe that they are in the technical service business. STS is in the customer service business delivering technical services.
Some time ago, STS completed a management exercise where we created our mission statement. For those of you not familiar with it, it is:
To create solutions in Information Technology through mutually beneficial relationships with our clients by delivering service, knowledge and education.
The word service is what stands out in this statement. It is not technical skill or knowledge, simply because we know you can find someone with the skills you need if you look hard enough. There is, however, a shortage of technical resources who can deliver those services in a customer-focused manner with an eye towards how these solutions can improve your business. This is STS's core value and why we hope that you will continue to do business for many years to come.
On that note, I would like to thank each of our clients for your trust and confidence in us. As we embark on our third year in business and we look forward to many more years of service to your organizations.
For those of you that are not yet our clients, I ask that you to allow us to show you what service truly means. To allow STS to provide service to your company please contact Lisa Duke at 678-378-4278.
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