A technical service organization’s ability to bring value to its clients is based on a simple principle: Every service team member must be fully invested in the client’s success. That means a commitment to three things:
- Making sure the job is done right
- Minimizing the number of steps and disruptions
- Going beyond what is required
To effectively help a client realize its operational vision requires a deep understanding of the underlying motivation and goals, and not just “fixing problems” as they occur. Significant consultation should be done before any work begins. This can be accomplished through conversations with stakeholders, surveys of end-user expectations or both. Gathering perspectives and understanding the key issues firsthand, before crafting a solution, establishes service level expectations and goals for success.
Success factors need to be shared with the entire office and field support team. This enables technicians and the support team to fully understand how their work will add value to clients.
For example, imagine that an executive is meeting with an important customer. Every minute that the presentation is delayed diminishes the company’s credibility and threatens the authority of the team responsible for implementation. Putting executive management at a disadvantage in this scenario could mean the loss of an important client.
Knowing a client could lose tens of or hundreds of thousands of dollars for any delay is motivation to maintain systems to prevent problems or complete service visits as quickly as possible. The provision of great service requires good processes, which are also established or adjusted to make them mutually effective and relatable to everyone involved.
Establishing a Service-Oriented Culture
A technical service company’s investment in delivering exceptional support should begin at the recruiting stage. Service companies need a hiring process that screens for recruits that exhibit traits of caring and commitment as well as attention to detail and good communication skills, which are critical to success in a support function. To select and cultivate the right candidates, the hiring process must be thorough and extensive in seeking these characteristics in addition to technical expertise.
New or existing team members should have a natural orientation to differentiate between just fixing the technical issue and finding ways to interact with clients that will prove beneficial well beyond the completion of the assignment at hand. Further to the prior example, once the AV issues are quickly resolved during the executive presentation, the technician should follow up with the client to help them understand what went wrong and how it can be avoided in the future.
Any client service contact should have above average communication and interpersonal skills. These are critical to enabling thorough root cause analysis to get to the heart of a problem. Once a solution is found, the technician must be able to effectively summarize the work that was performed so that both the client and the rest of the support team understand the issues. In some cases, written or verbal guidance is required to provide instructions that will help avoid recurrences.
Investment in Ongoing Training
Given the rate of technology evolution, service team members must have access to ongoing training. Continuous learning is necessary to instill the knowledge and experience required to resolve issues on first call. In the case of an initial service contact, by either email or phone, a knowledgeable Level 1 technician should be able to achieve a high ticket closure rate. If a site visit is required, a Level 2 technician needs to have the training and understanding of procedures to ensure they are effective.
When on-site visits are required, clients should not be subjected to technicians who arrive unprepared, without the basic skills needed, and simply escalate to a more capable technician. This can cause often unnecessary delays in resolution. If a meeting space is left unusable for extended periods, it can have a dramatic impact on the ROI of a client’s technology investment.
It’s essential the technical services team understand as much as possible about the issues before trying to provide support. This can be done with an up-front needs analysis and a formal goal-setting process to ensure service partner excellence.
An effective technical services provider serves as a proactive partner in anticipating and crafting a plan that meets and exceeds long term client expectations. The return on this type of investment is a fast and positive improvement in technology utilization rates and user satisfaction.
Establishing good services practices early on, with ongoing continuous improvement, sets the stage for valuable partnerships that can benefit both service providers and end-user for years to come. It is this type of commitment to a client’s success that makes a technical services provider exceptionally effective.