Most people who have a great experience at a top rated hotel remember it for years, tell others, and come back again and again. Conversely, if they have a bad experience, they painfully endure it, tell others and never return. The Ritz-Carlton hotel stands out as the gold standard for delivering outstanding customer service at every opportunity with a guest. All great companies that truly understand customers’ needs and wants follow three service strategies that make customers feel great. The same can be said of IT Managed Services Providers (MSPs). Customer centric companies will benefit if they ensure their partners follow these three strategies. They include personalized service to customers with technology, investing in training and developing and empowering employees.
Before moving forward, it helps to clarify what a Managed Services Company does. Wikipedia defines managed services “as the practice of out-sourcing a company’s day-to-day IT management responsibilities to a third party as a strategic method for improving operations.” Companies that focus on what they do best understand that outsourcing their IT department often leads to happier more productive employees with less stress and peace of mind. Additionally, company executives have access to strategic IT guidance about the best technology to support business decisions.
When a customer checks into the Ritz-Carlton, they want their stay in their “home away from home” to be a satisfying and memorable experience. In the same way, IT managed services providers that provide support and management to employees both in and outside the office must provide outstanding service. They follow the same strategies used by the Ritz-Carlton to WOW customers.
1. They provide personalized service using technology
Prior to checking, Ritz-Carlton staff record detailed information about a guest’s preferences wants and needs in the reservation computer system. For example, a agent in reservations noticed one guest used the tennis courts when they stayed at other properties. The guest had not stayed at this location and was unaware about tennis. The agent informed the guest about the tennis courts at this location and that court time and lessons could be booked with the reservation.
In addition, employees personalize a guests’ room according to their precise preferences, such as room service preferences, choice of newspaper, contents of mini-bar and any modifications to the room. Frontline staff update a guess records in the system in real-time after learning something new from an interaction. This often includes special requests, specific personal, family or work related interest and problems or complaints.
In a similar manner, a managed services company needs to closely work with management and each employee to understand their needs, wants and preferences. Every employee must be heard such that face-to-face and phone support is resolved clearly and quickly with fast response times for any technical issue.
For example, when a new employee is hired, the human resources department or manager communicates with the IT department. The expectation before the new employee arrives is to set them up with logins to email, a computer, tablet or smart phone locally and remotely. The employee is assigned a phone extension, voicemail, and access to enterprise wide software applications and other specific applications for their position. To ensure a smooth transition with the correct configuration for a new employee, the IT service company needs to record detailed information after speaking with the appropriate individuals and departments. Conversely, when an employee resigns, takes a leave of absence or is terminated, a different set of steps is required for suspending or revoking employees privileges.
2. They Train, develop and mentor your people
The Ritz-Carlton takes training and development seriously. Frontline employees who interact with customers like receptionists, bellhops and wait staff receive four to five weeks of formal training their first year. Employees – both new hires and veterans – meet for 15 minutes each day, exchanging stories about how they wowed a guest. Each day, they review one of the twenty guidelines from the Gold Standards, a wallet-sized card that describes the company’s customer service philosophy (Source: Joseph M. Hall and M. Eric Johnson, “When Should a Process Be Art, Not Science?” Harvard Business Review,” March 2009, pp. 58–65)
Similarly, IT service companies match veterans with junior professionals, spending many weeks reviewing best practices, policies and procedures. They visit customer sites, make introductions and describe subtle differences about employees’ computer preferences. Cross training ensures familiarity with the environment if the assigned consultant is unavailable or on holiday. Whenever possible, the goal is to minimize the number of handoffs such that another consultant resolves the issue as quickly as possible.
3. They empower employees and practice empathy
The Ritz-Carlton empowers employees to quickly make decisions in order to recover from errors and solve challenging situations, when guest satisfaction is foremost. For example, frontline staff can spend up to $2000 to solve a customer problem or complaint. However, in many situations, an employee who shows empathy by taking the time to listen and puts themselves in the customer’s shoes is often enough to solve the problem. The Ritz also makes it a practice to under promise and over deliver because if a promise is less than what is delivered, a guest will usually feel delighted.
Similarly, great IT service companies empower their people to solve customer problems and complaints by doing whatever it takes. That may mean staying on the phone until the issue is resolved, driving to the customer site or getting support from other team members to quickly solve a problem. When a customer is experiencing pain, the IT professional needs to not only solve the problem but also make them feel better by being kind, sensitive and understanding.
Great service companies truly understand their customers’ needs and wants. To succeed, the notion of service must be taken to a whole new level. This is true for all companies, all IT Managed Services Providers and even for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel to maintain the standard. The next time you are looking for a service partner, check if they offer this level of service.
Source photo is here