Monday, March 28, 2016

Customer Service Thinking

My definition of good customer service is pretty simple:  deliver what you promise.  Period.  You can over-deliver and still make me happy.  But other than that, it's pretty simple.  Tell me what you promise you'll do.  If I sign up for the service, then delivery that service:  on-time, at the price you promised, and make it as easy for me as you promised.  That's it.

Earlier this week, I encountered back-to-back customer service failures with my preferred airline.  The first fail took place when winter weather struck on the runway...waited in the plane on the runway for two hours because the airline failed to have the wing de-icers ready to go.  The second failure occurred when the plane failed a brake inspection prior to boarding; lost two hours and rebooked a later flight.

In both cases, the airline did quite well in providing details for the cause of the delays and expressed profound apologies.  But here is a tip for the airline:  that is not customer service.  You blew it when you failed to deliver your service on-time at the price you promised.  Providing details and status is about mitigating the damages from your failure to provide customer's not good customer service.  In fact, the line defining a customer service failure has already been crossed.

One more customer experience failure this week; I went to my favorite hardware store to shop for a few tools and place a larger order for some building materials (more house remodeling).  The tool shopping went well, but it took two hours to place the order for materials.  The cause of the delay?  Not one of the five service representatives knew how to enter the order into the store's order entry system.  An utter failure of customer service due to a lack of effective training for the team that works with customers.

Now you may be thinking that I've just had a crummy week and I'm using this forum to vent.  On the contrary, it was a good week...because this experience got me to thinking.

You see, Software-as-a-Service is not just about software hosted on a public cloud.  It's about delivering a service.  Telling customers what you promise to do.  Then delivering on that promise.  Including provisioning, implementing, and support...all the activities and exchanges that go into the "Service".

We see too many service fails in the SaaS world.  All the time.  Every day.  Regardless of software vendor.  The industry is still working through the transition from thinking about providing software applications to providing a service...a much, much wider scope of responsibility to our customers.  We need to up the standard - quickly!

Thoughts?  Find the comments.

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