I started my career in sales and soon determined that I loved it. While many people avoid sales like the plague, I embraced it because I was helping others solve problems. It never dawned on me to try to talk people into buying things they didn’t want or need. Rather, if my product was a good fit for their needs then I wanted them to buy. If it wasn’t a good solution for this situation, then I encouraged the person not to buy my product.
One challenge of my chosen career was that my “reward” for achieving my targets was often a higher sales quota the following quarter or year. Over time, I got used to it and would often joke that my boss’ default attitude was: “what have you done for me lately?” It didn’t matter that I had exceeded my goal last quarter by 200%, I hadn’t done anything yet this quarter!
It seems the same in the service industry. Whether evaluating restaurant service or a hotel stay or travel with an airline, our sense of quality is often determined by our most recent experience. Many positive interactions can be quickly forgotten by a current bad one.
At Howard Tech, we work hard to do the right thing every day by providing friendly and timely service. Yet, all the effort put in over time might be for naught, if a client of ours has even one bad experience. In our business, it’s not a question if a piece of hardware will fail or if a user gets a virus, it’s just a matter of time – when? Things will break. It is our responsibility to handle it as quickly and professionally as possible, and to advise on how to avoid that issue in the future.
Our first goal is to identify problems in advance where possible. This helps us build workarounds to reduce the impact if things go down. Our team works hard to repair and restore broken systems so our clients can continue to serve their customers. I feel that we sometimes don’t communicate as well as we could through the process. People expect technology to work all the time, like the light switch turning on power – “just make it work!”
Communicating well for us means explaining the reality in simple terms, providing regular updates, and offering realistic timelines on when things may be resolved. When we do this, we often receive positive feedback. Likewise, we may cause unnecessary frustration when we don’t communicate well. One bad experience can quickly undermine many years of great service. Reminds me of my sales manager – what have you done for me lately?
What about you?
If you are in the service industry, are you communicating well? Do you set proper expectations with your customers? Are you providing regular updates, as you work through issues? All of us serve clients, whether you’re small, large, for profit or non-profit. The more we get our message out to our customers, minimize surprises and deliver as we promise, the happier our clients (and we) will be. Good luck with serving this week!