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10 Simple Actions to Adopt to Improve Your Service

By Steven West, Product Consultant at Marval Software


1.   Avoid making quick, on-the spot assumptions                                                                                                            

Take the time to review, assess, research and verify before delivering your conclusions. Whatever you do, you need to use a systematic approach to identifying the best solution.

Be empathic, think before you speak - customer  perception of you and your team is important. Be professional at all times (no matter what the  provocation!).

2.   Make sure you are supplied with accurate / complete information                                                                                

Listen and collect all the facts available. The more details you have to work with, the easier it will be to reach a satisfactory conclusion. This is often not  taken seriously enough, defining a problem is merely the start; by collecting specific information you can identify specific problems and solutions.

3.   Properly evaluate / reproduce the condition                                                                                                                                                     

If you cannot see or replicate the issue it will be  difficult to investigate and return a solution. Define the problem and address the ‘right’ problem. Solving the `wrong' problem will only create more problems. Wherever possible treat the problem, not the symptom – don’t apply a sticking plaster. This will not resolve the problem long-term.

4.   Do not bow to pressure from the customer / business to deliver NOW                                                                                             

Follow your processes and procedures. They have been established and refined through continual improvements to deliver fast and accurate solutions. Do not be concerned about telling the customer you cannot immediately solve their issue. Ensure however that you give the customer confidence that the team will professionally look after their interests and keep them informed.

5.   Fully understand the issue, impact, risks and resource requirements before agreeing a time frame for resolution                                                                                                                                                         

To avoid customer disappointment and dissatisfaction do not offer promises that cannot be backed up. Ensure you ‘understand’ their issue, ask again if you don't understand something they say, re-state the ‘problem’ for clarification, and consider the implications and customer perception of your responses.

Once the situation is evaluated, you can make accurate estimates of the complexity of the issue and time required to solve it.

6.   Only try to fix things within your skills and knowledge

The place for an ‘IT hero’ has long gone, we need to adopt a team culture approach. Use the skill sets and experience of other members of your team to achieve the common goal of resolving the customer’s issue.

7.   Escalate the request early enough                                                                                                            

Knowing when to escalate is essential, many IT specialists mistakenly believe that escalating a problem is an admission of incompetence, so they violate established escalation guidelines. As a support service your focus is to ensure your customers, both internal and external, are able to resume normal working as soon as possible. 

It may need additional support to achieve this, by escalating you are ensuring that all parties will be aware of the issue and can work together on the common goal. 

8.   Involve the right people                  

Your organisation will have the people with the skills, knowledge and experience to resolve the issue. Share ideas, record everything no matter how crazy or simple it seems. Don’t evaluate or throw out any possible solutions. Leave them for a period of time and then return to them. Keep an audit trail so that you can explain clearly the reason for the decision you came to.

9.   Keep the customer / business informed                                                                                                                                             

No one has ever complained about being kept informed. It’s imperative that the correct people are kept informed. Customers experience major frustration when they have to wait for a status update. Managing customer expectation is one of the keys to success. Customers appreciate knowing what’s been done, the current status of their issue and when to expect a resolution. N.B. Don’t forget about your own management team – they won’t like to be embarrassed.

10. Review, document and learn from each new experience                                                                                                      

Build-up of knowledge items will not only help you but will also be invaluable to other members of your team. Make sure you have the answers to the  questions:

Did the solution work?  

Why did it work?  

What factors or information were missed? 

Were there any flaws in the solution? 

What did it cost against budget?  

Was it worth it?


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