IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

CX - Your Magic Pill or Poison Pill?

CX - Customer Experience - is becoming more important every year. Why? Primarily because of two factors: 1) The Cloud and 2) Clients have more choices than ever.

We used to talk about customer service. Trust me, it's still important. In fact it's critical. But the meaning of customer service changes as your interaction with clients changes. If you have a storefront, most of your customer service is face to face and in person. If you have an Internet-only business, then most of your customer service is reflected in the shopping experience, the email experience, and the overall experience when things go wrong.

Thus, the Customer Experience is something you need to think about - and create with intention. If you don't "create" an intentional CX, you will still have one. It just might not be the experience you were hoping for.

Let's start by making this 100% relevant to your company today. What is your clients' experience?

What do clients "hate" about modern tech support? Well, for starters, they don't like entering tickets in your system - especially if they've been your client a long time. They also don't like seeing a different face every time they have work done. They don't want to be shuffled around between technicians.

Clients have never liked being taken for granted. How much of your current CX makes them feel special?

A few major variables are play here. First, we have to acknowledge that the way we deliver service is changed by the fact that we are delivering more products and services over the Internet. O365 supported remotely is different from MS Office installed from a DVD and supported by a technician who sits in the client's chair while working.

Note that newer, younger clients probably prefer the remote support. They are not interrupted. They can sit at their computer and do other things while you work. They appreciate quick support over the personal touch.

Bus a second factor is your history with the client. History always matters! Clients have a right to say, "I've paid you tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars over the years. I deserve to be treated like I'm important." When clients don't feel important, it hurts a lot more when they know they've given you a lot of support and money over the years.

One of the absolutely unbreakable rules of business is:

Don't be more loyal to vendors than they are to you.

Think about it. When your cell phone company pisses you off (or your favorite distributor, airline, or supplier), you make a calculation in your head. You have have been loyal to them due to quality of products, quality of service, and a sense that the two of your are in this together.

Until you're not in it together. At some point you realize that you're in it long after they've stopped caring about your business.

I had this experience with Verizon. I had them for almost 18 years, starting when they bought my old cell phone provider. CX got worse and worse over time, but I didn't pay much attention. And then, one day, I had a truly horrible experience. No one would help. Top to bottom. In the store or online. Supervisors, managers, and up the chain.

That's when I realized that I had been loyal to them long after they had stopped being loyal to me. So I moved to another carrier - and wondered why it took me so long.

Well, in this case, you're the vendor.

What is your client's experience with your company? Do they brag about you? Do they love you? Are they grateful to be in a relationship with you?

What does it feel like to be your client during an urgent situation? Let's say a laptop fails at the moment that the sales manager has to make a live presentation in front of their biggest client, for a project that might increase next year's revenue by 20%.

How do they get a hold of you? How do they get service? What do they do? Does it feel good? How would you like to go through that experience?

I used this out-of-the-ordinary example because those are the kinds of events that make people question their whole relationship with you. Uninstalling and reinstalling a driver has (probably) never caused a client to question a relationship into which they have pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A great CX will strengthen a client relationship.

A bad CX will make a client question the relationship.

A horrible CX will make a client go looking for your replacement.

Stay tuned: There ARE ways to fix your CX with standard operating procedures.

:-)

About the Author

Karl W. Palachuk, is a technology consultant, author, speaker, trainer, and coach. He is the author of fifteen books. He has built several successful businesses, including two managed services companies. His books include Managed Services in a Month and The Network Documentation Workbook. Karl is a frequent trainer and speaker in the SMB Community. His popular blog can be found at SmallBizThoughts.com. He has more than twenty years experience as an I.T. professional and serves on advisory panels for several hardware and software companies.

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