The Path to Excellence: Asking Clients “How’re We Doing?”

As the leadership team of an Information Technology company, my managers and I could endeavor to get a fix on how our business is doing by looking at the usual metrics. Are we profitable? Is everyone busy and clocking billable hours? Are we innovating new products?

Do we measure those things? Sure. But, when it comes to really taking the pulse of how The Network Support Company is doing, we go straight to our clients and ask them. We’re not talking about tossing out a cursory “Is everything ok?” as we walk out the door. Instead, for the past 16 years, we have sent formal surveys to our clients – at first annually, and now quarterly — about a variety of topics. Our surveys ask how friendly and courteous we are, how knowledgeable our technicians are, how responsive we are to their challenges and needs, whether they feel cared for, if our billing is accurate, and so on.

Why do we ask these sorts of questions, and not about whether they’re satisfied with their internet speed or their data recovery system? It’s simple. Even though we make our living as a technology company, we are first and foremost a customer service organization, and as such, how satisfied our clients are in our service will always be the most important metric we measure.

We believe it is not enough to be the best technical company in our market; what we believe sets TNSC apart is our attention to customer service, and our long-held theory that listening to what our clients want and need from us is the most crucial aspect of our operations. You see, it’s very easy for a bunch of managers to talk about what we think our clients want – but we can completely miss the mark. Without their input, we’re just guessing. And even though our technology is cutting-edge, we can’t yet read peoples’ mind.

Even though many factors – staffing levels, the number of big projects simultaneously underway, even how many people are out sick or on vacation – can impact our customer satisfaction levels, we’re in the practice of regularly adjusting our operations based on survey responses. For instance, we might rework our accounting or reporting policies to give clients information they want to see. We might adjust staffing levels. We might send our technicians for additional customer service training or even terminate the employment of those who dip below our standards. We might add reports to our customer portal, so clients have more information about how we handled a certain issue (stay tuned for an upcoming blog on why TNSC places so much importance on transparency).

Two years ago, we made one of the most significant adjustments in our operations – a direct result of surveying. Clients told us that, as our staff grew, they began to feel less of a personal connection with our company because they were being serviced by so many different staff members. Based on that, we divided our tech workforce into two teams with sub-teams within each, which greatly reduced the number of techs who might service a client. The feedback from our customers after that adjustment was overwhelmingly positive. And our techs also said they knew their clients better. Win-win.

I cannot stress how important is it to us to stay connected to our clients’ needs and desires. Their feedback is of great value to our continued success.

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