“Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.” – Stephen Hawking.
One important aspect of delivering a first-class support service is ensuring that you do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it.
Our customers rely on our services to keep their operation running smoothly. If we commit to them and then fail to deliver, we are letting the customer down. This can cause knock on problems: For example, our customer may have to deliver commitments to their customers on the back of the commitments we have promised. If we let our customer down, then our customer will be letting their customers down. So, no one wins. Simply put; do what you say you are going to do, and do it when you say you are going to do it.
If for some reason you cannot meet your agreements, make sure you let the customer know as soon as you are aware that you cannot deliver. By doing this, you are ensuring an open and honest dialogue is maintained, and you are giving the customer a chance to do something about it before it’s too late. If one of our customers is experiencing a problem with their software, we may set the expectation that we will be able to solve it before the end of the day. Our customer might then start working on something else, happily trusting that we will solve the problem. Thirty minutes later we may realise that we’re not going to get it done in time. I realise that it can be difficult to tell a customer that what you agreed to can no longer be achieved, but by telling the customer immediately, it gives them the opportunity to maybe meet their objectives another way. It also means that the customer respects your honesty and transparency.
Finally, try to ensure that you are realistic in the expectations you set. The best way to form a lasting relationship with a customer is to give that customer confidence in you and allow them to trust you. I was once asked if we could do something by a given date and I told the customer that we could – I said yes and nodded my head. The customer then said, “Ok, I understand that you are ‘yes’ men, but can you really do it?” To which I replied, “Yes.” The phrase ‘once burnt, twice shy’ came to mind. This customer had been let down by another supplier in the past and now didn’t trust my judgement as a result. I am pleased to say that this customer was delighted when we delivered exactly what we had agreed, exactly when it was required. We now have a great relationship with this customer; we communicate openly and frequently and, above all, we trust each other and are able to depend on the commitments that are made.
James Watson, Global Head of Support