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Building a client-focused IT culture

Lou Markstrom, professional development specialist at DDLS | May 23, 2014
Three key elements that you need to consider when adopting a service mindset

When you think of good service, what comes to mind? What separates elevated service from the norm? To answer these questions, let's first understand the difference between customer service and hospitality.

Customer service includes all the things we do for our clients, while hospitality is how we make them feel and the experience we leave them with. The goal is to create positive, memorable experiences for the client.

Clients remember the really good and the really bad. If it is just normal, it is forgotten very quickly. The key to delivering these types of experiences is the mindset that your team and culture brings to the daily interactions with your clients.

I've worked with thousands of clients and have identified three vital mindset factors necessary to build a client-focused IT culture.

1. Learn to love complaints

Complaints are a good thing. It should be much more disconcerting not to hear your clients complaining. Too often, unhappy clients remain quiet, giving you no chance to prove you can do better or solve the issue at hand.

This bad news then tends to spread more quickly than the good news. Complaints are your clients' form of communication and they should be both treasured and encouraged.

They represent a learning opportunity for you and your team, a chance to get it right. You can't fix it if you don't know about it.

With that being said, this is not an easy mindset to develop. This is due to the emotion that gets tied to a complaint. We take them personally and often feel the need to justify or defend.

Complaints often sound disrespectful or even hostile. You need to look beyond the personal and turn complaints into something impersonal, trackable and logical.

What if you stripped away all the emotion from the complaints? What if you simply heard them as information or input that you wouldn't otherwise be privy to?

To accomplish this, I recommend using the following process:

  • Thank the client for making the complaint. This may sound counterintuitive but it assists you in making the required mindset change and lets the client know you are interested and that you care.
  • Gather more information. Get into their world and find out all you can so that you can assist them. The goal is to investigate and not interrogate.
  • Apologise even if you don't think it was IT's fault. Show the clients that they are important and they matter to you. Saying something as simple as 'I'm sorry you had this experience' can make a difference in how the client feels about the service they receive. The one caveat here is that you must really mean it and it must be sincere. A false or insincere apology can be worse than none at all.
  • Ask how you can help. This doesn't mean becoming an order taker or being a door mat. It means really listening to the client, finding out what happened, what is making them unhappy and then making a commitment to take steps to rectify it.


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