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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Customer Service 2

Our story last time was riddled with opportunities for Customer Service excellence or failure.

Let's see what some of them were...

But first, we should have an understanding of what we mean by customer service. And that means sorting out who are the customers in the story, and what we mean by service.

To keep things simple we can say service is the provision of product or activity that delivers a described value to the customer. And that implies that the next person in the chain of provision from the suppler is the customer – whomever is next.

So that use of the word customer does not include notions of purchase or payment, simply the next recipient in the chain. Obviously, the customer of one transaction can then become the supplier of the next.

In our story we have the following customers:
  • the ITIL course participants (who incidentally have paid National Training for the course, and so are automatically perceived as customers)
  • Vickie, who is supplying the training, and is also the customer of National Training in the sense of using their facilities and course materials
  • National Training, who is selling the training, and is also a customer of Way Behind Technologies for training materials, and a customer of Vickie's for training capability
... and the opportunities?
  • satisfaction of the participants with the trainer's capabilities (i.e. Vickie)
  • satisfaction of the participants with the training materials (i.e. National Training through Way Behind Technologies)
  • satisfaction of the participants with the training facilities (i.e. National Training)
Now if you were the trainer, wouldn't you try to do everything in your power to have the participants satisfied with all aspects of the training (as Vickie did) so you would be asked to provide training again?

Similarly if you were National Training you would want to have participants satisfied with the trainer, facilities, and materials.
This suggests the following opportunities:
  • review potential suppliers of ITIL materials with a highly experienced trainer (as National Training may or may not have done)
  • include a probationary period in the materials supply contract
  • have an agreement with the supplier to have materials issues resolved quickly and satisfactorily to the trainer's and participants requirements
And finally if you were Way Behind Technologies wouldn't you want to support your purchaser (National Training) and your potentially best advocate as the delivery vehicle, the trainer?

And even if this trainer didn't fit your pattern or mold, why not consider providing an answer to an immediate question which makes your organization appear competent and attractive instead of inflexible, lazy, and indifferent?

Aha! You say: Way Behind didn't recognize Vickie as their customer. Probably not; however, that is for them to say.
Even if they did, they certainly didn't behave according to our old chestnut:
Rule #1: The Customer is always right
Rule #2: If the Customer is wrong, read Rule #1

The evidence is that they perceived the trainer's difficulty with their material as the trainer's problem, not theirs. So be it. Even if we were to agree with that perspective, the potential end result is:
  • participants and trainer dis-satisfied with the materials
  • participants at risk of failing their exam as a consequence
  • participants and trainer not recommending Way Behind Technologies's materials
  • National Training not continuing to use Way Behind Technologies as their supplier
  • Way Behind Technologies going out of business
All for the sake of providing a quick email with the hidden answer revealed.

But then as we said last time: who can afford to try to meet all the various, and sometimes apparently unreasonable, customer wishes?