There is no substitute for good customer service. Offering an excellent product is clearly important, but if customers’ interactions with your company are poor, the outlook for your business will look equally grim. People are ultimately the clients and people need to be served. Particularly in the case of an engineering software company like ours whose end users are often a wide variety of engineering and consulting firms, the quality of technical support is absolutely vital. We need to provide our clients with the highest level of service so that they in turn can serve their clients.
Trends in Customer Service
Developments in social media and technology now offer multiple ways to solicit and respond to customers’ complaints, suggestions and requests for help. Message boards, discussion forums and automated answering systems that sort and redirect clients through an endless maze of “support” networks are some of the impersonal, cost-saving methods companies use to address the needs of customers.
The truth is that comments and questions often languish on company message boards for multiple days before generating a response. Also, focusing on a narrow “issue” with little or no understanding of the larger context highlights another shortcoming. Failure to interact with the client one-on–one leaves half of the customer’s story untold and the problem unresolved. Needless to say, these negative experiences generate ripple effects. Not only is the business of that particular client lost, but the likelihood that the negative experience will be shared with another potential customer is substantial. Our company understands the problems associated with these mainstream customer service techniques and strives to respond to customers with a radically different approach. We like to call it “fanatical” customer support.
The Golden Rules of Great Technical Support
Let’s start with some fundamentals. What do customers expect? The fact is that while technology now gives us more ways to provide customer service, the classic key principles to working well with customers haven’t changed over the years. These include:
- Get to know your clients and the specifics of how their businesses operate. What do these clients value in their products and what are their principal needs?
- Place a premium on good, clear communication. Listen first with patience and empathy and then respond once you fully understand the customer’s problem. Be prepared to make a case-specific analysis of the customer’s needs at that particular moment.
- Respond to each question with efficiency, diligence and specificity. Provide each client with the expertise that is needed. If you are able, provide more help than is expected.
- Promise only what you can deliver.
- Be prepared to acknowledge mistakes and to apologize if the situation warrants it.
- Know that unhappy clients can teach you a lot about your product and what you can do to improve it.
What do all of these golden rules of customer service have in common? All rules are based on serving people; establishing human contact is absolutely key to how we do things at CivilGEO.
Customer Service: A Case Study in Building Client Relationships
Even before a purchase is made, our account managers and engineers strive to build a relationship with a potential customer. We try to understand the needs and objectives of these potential clients and the kinds of projects that make up the bulk of their business. This information allows us to better serve the particular needs of our industry.
Our clients know that within an hour or two of contacting CivilGEO via a toll-free number or email, an engineer will contact them. CivilGEO understands that an engineering firm using our software doesn’t have the time to wait indefinitely for a response to a question. Our support engineers will try to resolve the problem on the first call or will summon more senior technicians if necessary. On occasion, our support engineers will need to research a question, but the client is regularly up-dated as to the status of the investigation. In most cases, the issue is resolved within 24 hours.
Details related to each case are entered into our client database. This customer profile gives our firm specific information about the customer’s business and gives us the background to help with future calls.
Client-Specific Service and Software Development “On Call”
Following a support call, our engineers will always ask the customer directly if the matter has been resolved to his satisfaction. Our company seriously considers and welcomes all client feedback. On one occasion, our “fanatical” customer service resulted in what you could only describe as “software development on call.” In response to a client’s request for certain capabilities in the software, our software development team implemented the software modification within 24 hours of the request.
We have a great team of engineers and support staff and we encourage you to get to know us. Check out our biographies on our website. Some of our engineers have 30+ years of engineering experience with the average at around 10 years. No issue is too insignificant for our most senior staff. As we said earlier, we are fanatical about our customer service.