“Offering second-to-none customer service could help your business to succeed no matter what the economic climate or latest technology craze.”– Forbes Web Contributor Internet blogs, message boards, and networking groups are littered with advice and tips on how businesses can deliver better customer service. However, there is also an abundance of online business reviews written by irate customers. With so many resources available for organizations to improve their standards of customer service, why does it seem that so many consumers are still dissatisfied; where is the disconnect? Why does it seem that the bar has been set lower than ever before where service is concerned? One popular opinion maintains that technology is to blame. With IT progressing, communication is hindered and business has become impersonal. It’s true that technology has the ability to offer indirect routes of communication in place of face to face interaction. But is technology the direct cause of declining satisfaction in customer service? If so, what does this mean for companies that provide cloud computing services, as well as for other IT companies that revolve around technology? To those in the IT industry: do not despair. Technology dependence is not a death sentence! In fact, Cetrom Information Technology, Inc. a leading IT support services provider, has a 4.9/ 5 average customer satisfaction rating and has maintained this record for over 12 years. What are their secrets? Customer service expert Christopher Stark, President & CEO of Cetrom, discusses his insights here: 1. Enough with the robots. As IT professionals, the Cetrom team understands the value and convenience technology provides, but they also understand that customer service is not an area of business to overwhelm with technology use. “There is a limit to the usefulness of technology,” says Stark. As a provider specializing in business IT services, Stark understands that his customers need high quality, quick support so they can get back to work. He says, “Is there technology that can direct support calls– yes. Is there technology that can handle customer service better than an actual Cetrom team member– no, not even close.” Stark continues to say that working personally with customers increases productivity and is a key component boosting Cetrom’s customer satisfaction rates. “Who wants to talk to a robot for 5 minutes, when they could have a live person on the other end of the line ready to help them immediately? Nobody.” 2. Remember, customers are people, too. Granted, this tip seems like it would be obvious to any service organization, but you’d be surprised at how easily they forget. “Personalized attention goes a long way in the customer service department,” Stark says. “When your customers phone in, frustrated with a technical problem they are having, all they really want is to know 2 things: that you care and you can solve the issue.” Stark recommends addressing customers by name, investing some time getting to know them, and making it transparent to them that you value their business. He says, “Customers have to know there is a person inside the suit; they need to see there’s a face behind the company.” 3. There’s no gift like the present. In addition to having team members answering the IT support services line, remember the value of timely solutions and onsite computer support calls. Most companies that provide cloud computing services know that some IT issues are easier to troubleshoot remotely than others. For difficult issues that would take a long time to solve and thus cause a lot of downtime for a customer, there is no greater level of customer service than onsite computer support. According to Stark, there is nothing customers value more than their time. He says, “If onsite computer support is going to get the job done better, faster, then do it. Your customers don’t want to deal with IT issues; that’s why they hired a business IT services provider.” Stark continues, “Offering onsite computer support is sometimes the best way to improve your client’s IT experience. Just because the remote technology exists doesn’t mean it should always stand in place of person-to-person communication.” Timely solutions and in-person support can do wonders for satisfaction ratings. 4. Be the expert. As discussed above, time is everything when you provide business IT services, because uptime during business hours directly affects the customer’s success. In order to maximize availability, it is necessary to make the troubleshooting process as efficient as possible. Stark explains that it makes no difference to have a live person answering support calls if they don’t have the knowledge base or skill level to address the customers’ issues. He says, “At Cetrom, our experienced engineers speak directly with clients when they call in for IT support services.” Many companies that provide cloud computing services have a phone-tree structure for their support calls. Less qualified representatives answer calls and troubleshoot for an allotted amount of time before passing the call to a more experienced technician, and the customer grows impatient and loses valuable work time. Stark says, “Customers have chosen us as their cloud computing services provider over another vendor because they weren’t satisfied with their IT support services. More than once, a competitor of ours offered a better price for their hosting services, and yet clients have chosen Cetrom because of our efficient IT support services.” It pays to be the expert. 5. Follow through with follow ups. According to Stark, it is important to know what separates your company from your competitors. “The Cetrom difference, as the team calls it, is summed up in our customer service practices.” Part of Stark’s routine is “following through with follow-ups”. He clarifies, “Even the best IT support services providers have issues that slip through the cracks and affect clients in a less than desirable way. When that sort of thing happens, I personally follow up with the customer, explain what happened, and answer any questions they may have about the issue.” There is nothing more important than a solid commitment to customer service. Following up with clients is an excellent way to make business conversations more personable and improve customer satisfaction rates. There may be a lot of chatter concerning customer service and the role technology plays in hindering satisfaction ratings, but the reality is that customer service is a choice. If a business is determined to make customer service a priority, following the above tips can prevent technology from interfering with quality service. Cetrom makes a conscious effort to prioritize following good customer service practices, and that decision has made a true positive impact. Learn more about Cetrom’s story here.
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