Put a Little Personality Into IT! - 15 May 2008

Personable, respectful service nets major customer satisfaction points

I recently read the article “Four Secrets to Becoming a Rising IT Star” in CIO Magazine, and it really got me thinking. Customer service is everything. How many times have you heard someone fume (often for painful hours on end) about working with customer service reps who just don’t get it? (Granted, this is often because the reps live halfway around the world, speak English less than perfectly, and have no technical experience.)

While customers’ frustration often occurs because the problem is left unresolved, it also feeds off a larger issue: People want to be accepted. They want to be catered to, empathized with, and understood. (Not just understood by those stupid, voice-activated phone trees that never work, but actually understood emotionally.)

To make a long story a little shorter, a little personality makes you a hero. And trust me, the stars in their eyes translate into gold stars with corporate in no time. So, here’s what it takes to skyrocket customer satisfaction:

Know the customer. Would you explain a disk boot error in great detail to a receptionist? How about joking how technology is built to break with a business manager? Your attitude and demeanor should depend on the person on the other end: If the user is busy and frustrated, put your nose to the grind. If the user is chatty and curious, don’t be afraid to joke and explain.

Ask questions. This is especially relevant if you aren’t the person to take an initial request or complaint. Take the time to confirm the situation and ask questions, even if you’re positive you know what to do. Talking through it may get the user to remember something he or she forgot or request additional, needed help. If nothing else, asking detailed questions will boost the user’s confidence in you.

Follow up. This tip should be obvious. Follow up to make sure everything’s working. Follow up to say thanks. Follow up to say you’re available if the user needs anything. Follow up to say the weather’s nice, but do follow up!

Michael Dragone, a Windows IT Pro contributing editor, also has a few tips about how to be proactive in providing customer satisfaction. You can read about them here.

If your customers still proclaim “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto!” after a job well done, you’ve got work to do. But who knows: With a little personality, understanding, and investment in your customers, you might even get a number on their speed dial.

What are your techniques to leave an impression on users? Post a comment and let me know.

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